When I was expecting each of my two sons, I felt ripe as a berry, round, and luscious. I bought soft clothes in rich purples and deep blues. I wore jazzy stockings with jagged patterns running down my legs. I hennaed my hair like a pampered Egyptian queen. I was pregnant, and I was sexy.
Far from feeling fat and sluggish, I had never felt so alive -- or so alluring. I sidled up to my husband like a cat. And although he sometimes found my abandon amusing -- my belly, after all, was clearly in the way and only growing more so -- he couldn't help but respond to my desire. What better aphrodisiac is there than feeling good?
Of course, this may sound like heresy. The notion of being pregnant and sexy clashes with most American images of impending motherhood. On television, expectant women are portrayed either as klutzes or as immaculate conceivers whose only rising appetite is for pickles and ice cream. There's a sort of confusion of mother with child; until the baby comes, we're the ones dressed in pink or blue. It's the rare pregnant woman who's portrayed as sensual: When a pregnant Demi Moore posed naked on the cover of Vanity Fair, she never looked sexier, but in some stores the issue was yanked off the shelves.
The reality is that most pregnant women, if they're not nauseated or exhausted, feel like sowing some oats. "I didn't just feel sexier, I was sexier," says Allison Stiles, mother of a 13-month-old in South Portland, Maine. Stiles isn't alone: During pregnancy, levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone surge, increasing the blood flow to the breasts and the pelvic area. Biologically, at least, pregnant women are in a nine-month state of arousal.
Dorothy Foltz-Gray is a freelance writer in Knoxville, Tennessee.