What happens to your vagina after having a baby?
Your vagina may feel torn, bruised, gaping, swollen and of course painful. But fear not, for most women this is a temporary phase that is greatly improved a week later and usually back to normal within 4-6 weeks post birth.
The vagina is the gateway to our female anatomy and it’s right to cherish it for its pleasure giving and reproductive functions. In order to ensure the best chance of a toned vagina following birth, preparation ideally starts in pregnancy (or even before) when pelvic floor (kegal) exercises are commenced. Think of them as a workout to exercise the vaginal and pelvic floor muscles that support your vagina.
Maintaining some exercise helps keep all muscles toned, not least the pelvic floor. Swimming, yoga and pregnancy pilates are especially effective. Ask your midwife if you are unsure what is safe.
Maintaining a healthy weight will help you to grow an average sized baby (i.e. less to push out) and allow you to stay fitter in pregnancy and be more active in labour. An active labour gives you more choice of effective pushing positions when you actually give birth. Less time pushing means less strain on those all important muscles. So as a general rule reduce your sugar intake to none or a minimal amount in pregnancy. Remember that fruit, despite being nutritious, is heavily laden with sugar. Substitute fruit for more salad and vegetables. Ensure a well-balanced, low sugar and only healthy carb diet. Carry plain walnuts and almonds to snack on when you need some calories.
Perinal massage from 36 weeks of pregnancy may help your perineal muscles to stay intact during birth and so definitely worth the effort.
Naturally your vagina will appear a little larger to look at, i.e. it gapes a bit, but within a week it generally looks OK again – that is if you have been brave enough to get a mirror and have a peek. Stitches may be uncomfortable, but again they heal very quickly in this area despite being located in such a confined, moist area. Keeping stitches as clean as you can helps. If pain persists after a week, ask your community midwife to check the stitches.
Its normal for the vagina to feel a little drier than usual after birth, once the blood loss has subsided (usually 4-6 weeks after). This is due to decreased levels of oestrogen, especially if you are breastfeeding. Once breastfeeding has ceased and your periods have resumed the body reverts to the pre-pregnant state and your vagina will feel moist again. If not, mention it to your health visitor or GP, who can suggest ways to help.
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