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Right from the beginning, I realised the French have a different attitude to childbirth.

Whereas in England, childbirth is all about what is best for the child, in France there is much more emphasis on the mother.

The difference is like the difference between buying your clothes from Camden Market as opposed to Harvey Nichols.

After giving birth in Sussex with no painkillers - due to the fact I stupidly fell for all the propaganda about a natural birth - during which I suffered a tear that was not stitched up ('best to let it heal naturally, dear,' I was told), my first instinct was never to have sex again.

But the French government's magnanimity towards new mothers knows no bounds.

One friend of mine was even offered cosmetic surgery to deal with saggy breasts and a less-than-toned midriff.

Normally within about four weeks.' Frankly, that seemed more than a little hasty to me - so I decided not to tell my husband.

But the obsession in the medical profession with my sex life didn't abate.

I wasn't sure whether to say 'thank you' or 'bloody cheek'.They don't really share intimate details like that, and it would probably have turned into a competition - with everyone boasting about how many seconds after giving birth they squeezed back into their designer jeans.Nicolas arrived in the room wearing a pair of see-through plastic gloves and carrying an instrument that looked a little like something you might have found in one of Pinochet's torture chambers.And by default, the father - or at least his carnal desires.Returning to a normal sex life is seen of paramount importance. I think this gave me a bit of grace from the French emphasis on getting you back in sexual shape - but after my third baby, Leo, who was born naturally, I felt the full force of the French obsession.

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