It’s no secret that there will be many changes in your life as you prepare to welcome your new baby. Between baby registries and new responsibilities, you’ve got plenty to keep track of.
There is one area, the vulva or vagina more specifically, that many new moms fear may be forever changed by childbirth.
I’m not going to sugar coat it for you. Your vulva, your vagina, your lady parts, whatever you prefer to call it, it will change. How exactly it will change depends on a number of factors, like your pregnancy and delivery.
The increasing pressure of your growing pregnancy and the hormones that come along with it, prepare your body for labor. These factors can affect your bladder and your ability to “hold it”, even after childbirth.
What if I tear or have to be cut?
This is a very real fear the many women face going into the childbirth. In fact, first time moms have a 95% chance of experiencing some form of vaginal tearing
There are 4 degree to which one can tear:
- A first degree tear affects the lining of the vagina. Sutures may be need though usually left to heal on its own a first degree tear will heal beautifully.
- A second degree tear affects the lining and deeper tissue of the vagina. This is the most common tear and definitely require stitches.
- A third degree tear affects the lining and deeper tissues of the vaginal as well as the anal sphincter. Your doctor will need to suture each layer paying special attention to the muscle of the anal sphincter.
- A fourth degree tear includes all of the above and also extends through the rectal lining. The repair is delicate and intensive but luckily this is the least common tear, most common in vacuum or forceps assisted births or if the baby’s shoulder gets stuck.
An episiotomy is an incision made to into the perineum to widen the birth canal. Fortunately, they are no long a routine part of managed childbirth as they can slow down the body’s healing process.
What if I had a c-section?
Cesarean recovery comes with its own set of issues to be aware of. It is major abdominal surgery after all.
Even though your main focus is your incision healing, you may still experience bruising or soreness in the perineum area from the added weight and pressure of pregnancy.
Hormonal changes can also affect you libido and lead to vaginal dryness. And while you may not have to worry as much about pain during intercourse, many moms who birthed via cesarean report being afraid to cause damage to the area of their incision.
Will intercourse still feel the same after I give birth?
Let me tell you something about your vagina. It is a magical stretching and contracting organ. It provides pleasure and is a pathway for new life.
Regardless of how you birth, things may feel a little different down there during intercourse. Due to the hormones flowing through your body to aid in breastfeeding and postpartum healing, you might experience dryness or even a new smell.
You may find that your sex drive is out of whack and you have absolutely no interest in any form of intimate activities or maybe you have a heightened desire for intimacy.
If you are eager to reconnect with your body, after giving birth, give yourself time and take things slow. A bubble bath or massage from your partner are good first step. However, if you are ready for solo time, masturbation focused on clitoral stimulation is okay as soon as you feel ready and can even have some benefits to your postpartum recovery.
What can I do?
Regardless of how you birth, you may have, at minimum, some soreness, or bruising in your perineal area after giving birth. This is normal and will dissipate as your recovery and healing progresses.
Keep your sitz bath and peri bottle nearby.
You can fill them with warm water or with a gentle, healing, herbal blend.
Arnica tablets are a great homeopathic remedy to have on hand that won’t interfere with any medications you might be prescribed postpartum. Arnica is used to help with bruising and swelling and can be used topically as a cream or taking internally as a small pill.
Treat your bottom like a queen with an inflatable donut pillow. This will allow your vulva to heal without pressure, discomfort and pain every time you sit down. (#momtip get two and keep one in the car for when you and baby go out for appointments.)
Get as much rest as possible. Sleep when baby sleeps. Let people do things for you without feeling guilty. Your lochia, or postpartum bleeding, will signal to you if you are doing too much and need to focus more on resting. If you notice a change in the brightness or amount of bleeding take that as a signal to put your feet up.
So yes, your vaginal and the other lady parts of your vulva, will go through quite a bit. Some of it may be not so bad, while other parts may be just downright traumatizing.
The good news is that you are not the first and you are not alone.
You have a support network and a community of mothers who have been through this same journey that you are on now and they are ready to support you and uplift you so you can thrive!