When women talk to each other and new moms about childbirth, they talk about the pain or how it's all worth it to have their beautiful baby. You rarely ever hear anyone talking about what happens to your vagina before, during, and after giving birth.
Let's be real! You just had a human baby make its way through your vagina and out into the world. This has to have an effect. It's time to have a serious conversation about what you can expect to happen with it during and after you give birth.
No, it doesn't really look like an old shoe. Here's what you need to know:
Typically, What Happens to the Vagina During a Vaginal Birth?
It can take anywhere from a few hours to a day or longer to give birth. However, your vagina isn't doing all the work during this time. As your labor progresses, the child eventually enters the vaginal area.
When the baby enters it, the muscles and skins located inside it begin to stretch and widen to provide space for the infant that's making its way through the area. In some cases, you might feel a burning sensation as they stretch.
When you feel a burning sensation, it's typically because the labia and perineum — this is the area between the rectum and the vagina — have stretched as far as they can go. In the chaos of childbirth, you might not notice this pain.
You might experience a tear between the vagina and anus when the muscles and skin have stretched as far as they can. In some cases, your ob-gyn might perform an episiotomy to avoid a tear.
An episiotomy is a surgical procedure, where your gynecologist cuts the skin between the vaginal opening and the anus to provide additional room for the baby. In the past, it was a common procedure. However, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that the procedure only be used when absolutely medically necessary.
How Long Does It Take to Recover After a Vaginal Birth?
Your body may have been designed to give birth, but that doesn't mean that the process doesn't stress your body, vagina, and mental health. Of course, the amount of time it takes you to recover depends on a variety of factors. It can take several months for you to feel like yourself again.
When it comes to its recovery, it doesn't take that long. Consider this, each time you have a Pap smear done, your doctor places their hand, wrist, and part of their arm into your vagina to get a culture from your cervix, and by that evening you feel fine.
Giving birth to a child is a more extreme event, but your body and ligaments are designed to stretch that way. If you give birth normally and don't need an episiotomy, you can expect it to recover in around two weeks.
After an episiotomy, it takes between four and six weeks for it to recover. The stitches the doctor placed in it should absorb into your body. An episiotomy might cause additional pain and soreness during the recovery period and create scar tissue.
Do Vaginas Go Back to Normal After Birth?
While it isn't exactly the same after you give birth, it'll feel very close to the way it did before birth, especially once you're fully healed. It stretches a lot even if you don't give birth through vaginal delivery.
You can expect it to return to almost normal although a little of the stretching might not bounce completely back. With each subsequent birth, you may experience additional stretching that doesn't return as tightly as it was.
There are factors during birth that determines the amount of stretching you experience. You can expect it to be very close to "normal" in around four to six months after birth.
If you're concerned with a permanent enlargement of the vaginal tissue, you can practice Kegel exercises, which are an exercise designed to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. These exercises will help to strengthen the vaginal muscles and minimize the stretchiness created during birth.
You can also utilize the services of a pelvic floor physical therapist or specialist. They can help you with customized support and exercises for your unique situation.
You may experience some vaginal dryness and lubricants can help, especially in the months following birth because lower estrogen levels have thinned the skin on your vaginal walls. This may pass in the months after birth or continue to be an issue.
How Long Does It Take Your Pelvic Floor to Heal After Birth?
Your pelvic floor muscles get a workout during the birthing process. There are a variety of factors that affect the time it takes to heal. This can include factors, such as the use of forceps or a vacuum during birth.
The pelvic floor muscles support your bladder and other organs. When they weaken during childbirth, you might experience symptoms, including vaginal discharge, odor, and leakage of urine, especially when you sneeze.
Each symptom decreases when you strengthen the muscles in the area. You can expect the muscles to mostly recover within four to six weeks after birth. In order to return to full strength and avoid a prolapse, you might consider Kegel exercises to condition and tighten the muscles of your pelvic floor.
When you strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, the inside of your vagina should feel tighter as well. Kegel exercises are key to offsetting any permanent stretching that occurred when you gave birth vaginally.
How to Take Care of Your Vagina After Giving Birth
Bleeding, soreness, discharge, incontinence, and odors are all possible in the days and weeks following vaginal birth. New moms need to practice relaxing and taking care of themselves. You need to look at each symptom that your vagina is experiencing.
Soreness might be a sign of an infection, so monitor it carefully, especially if you had an episiotomy. A sitz bath can be created with a bowl placed inside your toilet or limiting the water in your bathtub to a shallow depth. You can add Epsom salt, apple cider vinegar, or baking soda in small amounts. It's always a good idea to check with your ob-gyn before using a sitz bath or adding anything to it.
Now, let's talk about sex. Doctors don't have a set time limit that you need to wait to have sex. However, your ob-gyn may recommend that you wait four to six weeks. The first two weeks after giving birth is the time when most complications occur.
The truth is that you know your body. You don't want to engage in vaginal intercourse until you feel ready. It's always a good idea to communicate with your partner if you begin to feel discomfort or pain. It's important to note that you can get pregnant even when you're breastfeeding, so you might need to use a condom.
After a vaginal birth, your vagina and body have been through trauma. Over time, it will return to almost the way it was before. However, it's essential that you take care of yourself and your vagina during recovery.
Binto has a wide range of supplements made with only the best ingredients to help support vaginal and gut health during your postnatal period and beyond. The right vitamins and supplements can help you feel better and experience more energy when you're recovering.