Congratulations! You’ve just given birth to a gorgeous babe and have gone through the most strenuous workout of your life. Recovery from childbirth can take months, although most women will start to feel like themselves again in 6 to 8 weeks. If your healing takes a little longer, try not to get frustrated; your body is going through A LOT of changes, especially “down there.” Truth be told, some vaginal changes may be long-lasting or permanent.
During the post-partum period, you get a lot of advice about how to adjust to motherhood, how to cope with sore and leaky breast, or even how to deal with your shedding hair, but nobody really warns you about all the possible problem your “lady parts” could encounter. Well, let’s discuss some of these potential changes, shall we?
Heads up! If you breastfeed, you should know that your vagina could become a little dryer. Nursing decreases the amount of estrogen in your system. This important hormone helps to keep your vaginal lining thick, elastic, and lubricated. Without it you may feel more dryness, itching, or burning and this will continue for as long as you breastfeed. If your estrogen levels were any higher, you wouldn’t be able to keep nature’s finest on tap!
To overcome that dry feeling, try using a vaginal moisturizer. This will keep your delicate tissue supple and prevent discomfort. If you’re not breastfeeding but are experiencing dryness, talk to your healthcare provider, other factors such as exhaustion, or postpartum depression could be at play.
Let’s face, your vagina may feel a little roomier after pushing out a tiny human. How much more spacious will depend on how long you labored and the size of your baby at delivery (if you had a C-section, you may not experience any change since your baby didn’t make their way into the world through your vagina). Vaginal laxity can reduce pleasure during intercourse but not every new mom will be subjected to a more relaxed “undercarriage.” There are a few factors that will make you more at risk:
- Age: It’s true! Some women develop looser vagina’s as they get older.
- Multiple births: If you’ve had more than one vaginal delivery, chances are your “lady bits” may not ever completely recover that pre-pregnancy tightness.
- Trauma during childbirth: Damage to your pelvic floor muscles which help to maintain the position and shape of the vagina can create more room “down there.”
Bottom line: If you’re young and have a “normal” vaginal delivery, pre-pregnancy tightness usually returns within 6 months after giving birth. Older women, women who’ve had multiple vaginal deliveries, or those who have experienced a significant injury while giving birth, are more likely to have vaginal looseness beyond the first six to twelve months after delivery.
If you want to regain your vaginal elasticity, consider doing Kegel or other pelvic floor exercises.
To perform Kegels:
- Empty your bladder, then sit or lie down.
- Contract your pelvic floor muscles (the ones you use to stop your urine midstream) and count to eight.
- Relax these muscles and count to ten.
- Repeat this series ten times, three- times-a-day (morning, afternoon, and night).
You should see some improvement in 4 to 6 weeks but if you don’t notice any change speak to your healthcare provider. You may need more advanced methods to help you snap back.
If you have a vaginal delivery your perineum (you know; that small space between your vagina and rectum)may stretch, or even tear causing a lot of pain. You are not alone, almost half of the new moms surveyed in a 2009 study reported that they experienced genital or pelvic pain that lasted for more than 3 months.
Honestly, you’re “lady bits” may feel sore for a couple of weeks but sitting on an ice pack a couple times a day for 10 minutes can help relieve this symptom.
The truth is; post-partum mommies may secretly complain about pain during sex. This is usually the result of having problems in the perineal region. Although my “routine” vaginal delivery resulted in very minor tear, one stitch, andhealed quickly; the first time I had sex after giving birth was painful; not unlike having sex for the first time ever! Apparently, this is not uncommon. Fifty-three percent of Scottish women also reported having problems or pain with intercourse during the first eight weeks after delivery. Although, 13 percent of these women expressed the need forr advice, a quarter of the women didn’t seek any help.
It may feel a little awkward talking to your healthcare provider about your unexpected vaginal problems but guess what? Doctor’s care, they want their patients to be sexually satisfied. Talk to your provider if have ongoing soreness, signs of infection, or any other issues that are of concern to you.
Your body has a lot of healing to do after birth. Do yourself a favor and give your vagina the TLC it deserves during your post-partum recovery.
Photo courtesy of Little Woman Goods’ Etsy