5 Ways Your Vagina Will Change After Childbirth
If you're wondering how your vagina might change after birth, we're here to tell you what you can expect
After your body goes through labour, it’s normal to wonder about the state of your vagina. Has it become bigger? Does it look loose? Are these vaginal changes after birth irreparable? And why isn’t there a booklet on this?
Well, fret not, we’ve done the homework for you.
We’ll take you through some of the common vaginal changes after birth that are commonly experience by those who deliver naturally and those who go through a c-section.
Vaginal Changes After Birth: All You Need To Know
Now, during a natural birth, as you push your tiny baby out of your cervix all the through the birth canal or vagina, there is bound be some impact. However, it is not always as bad as it is painted. And since every labour and delivery story is different, your experience of vaginal changes after birth may be different from that of somebody else. And still similar to many.
So what can you expect after delivery? Let’s take you through some of the changes.
A woman’s vagina is naturally structured to accommodate delivering a baby. Studies have even found that your pelvic floor muscles can stretch to three times its normal size, during childbirth. But worry not, once it’s all over, the vaginal tissues shrink back to their pre-pregnancy state, for most part.
Consultant in urogynaecology Dr Suzy Elneil from University College Hospital, London, told NHS that your vagina after birth may look wider and would feel “looser, softer and more ‘open’.” It may also appear bruised or swollen, and this state is actually normal after childbirth but is only temporary.
How wide or loose your vagina might end up after delivery may depend on:
- How big your baby will be
- If you have complications during delivery
- How many babies you’ve given birth to
- The duration of labour
- Whether forceps or vacuum extraction was used
- If you took part in pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy
2. Urinary Incontinence
After all the stretching and tearing your vagina goes through during natural birth, you might find yourself leaking urine, especially during strenuous activities.
But don’t get too embarrassed as this is one of the common issues that women experience post childbirth. You may be relieved to know that it’s also treatable. Make sure to ask a healthcare provider how you can strengthen your pelvic floor muscles or if there is any surgical treatment you would need for this issue.
3. Pain During Sex
A woman’s vagina normally turns drier after delivery. This is due to lower levels of oestrogen in your body and the hormonal changes of pregnancy, as well as breastfeeding. While this dryness is temporary, it can also mean sex will a bit more painful for you compared to before.
If sex is still too painful for you after childbirth, you might be happy to know that you’re not alone for experts have found that approximately 91.3 percent of women had experienced sexual problems when they gave birth.
Sex may also feel painful due to the changes or damage in the nerves of your pelvis area.
Just make sure not to push yourself to do it if its pleasurable and contact a health professional if you continue to feel discomfort or pain during sex.
4. Injury From Forceps
As you know, the use of a forcep during delivery is meant to assist the natural birth of your child.
During a forceps delivery, two sterile instruments are applied into your vagina around your baby’s head. As you push, the doctor will use these to deliver your baby’s head.
This isn’t always used and can cause injuries to your vaginal tissue during childbirth. If you happen to still feel pain after a forceps delivery, do not hesitate to contact your doctor.
5. Tears And Episiotomy
In some procedures, NHS says, your perineum which is the skin between your vagina and anus might end up tearing. It may even be cut by the doctor or midwife so your baby can safely come out.
This procedure is called an episiotomy and can heal within three to six weeks. While it could leave a scar, it normally goes unnoticed and would not greatly affect the appearance or the function of your vagina.
If you had this procedure, you can try the following methods of healing, as recommended by the Health Hub website of Singapore’s Ministry of Health.
- Apply a perineal ice pad or ice pack to the sore area to reduce swelling and numb the pain
- Ensure that you keep the area clean and dry to reduce the pain in your vagina and promote healing
- Avoid sitting for too long while your wound is still recovering
- Take oral painkillers that your obstetrician may prescribe you
- Use anaesthetic sprays or gels as prescribed by your doctor
- Prepare a sitz bath which involves a small basin of warm water with a handful of salt to help relieve pain.
- Do pelvic floor exercises post consultation with your doctor
What To Do To Get Your Vagina Back To (Almost) Its Original Shape
It’s not entirely impossible to help your vagina recover to its (almost) pre-pregnancy condition. But you will need to be cautious and consistent with the two most effective methods: kegel exercises and pelvic floor therapy.
- Kegel exercises. These type of exercises can help in strengthening the muscles of your pelvic floor. They can also help in dealing with urinary incontinence and even make sex more comfortable after childbirth.
- Pelvic Floor Therapy. Postpartum pelvic floor exercise can not only strengthen your pelvic floor muscles but also help in reducing urinary incontinence. Although it is advised that you do these exercises under the supervision of trained health professionals.
While some of these changes would be frustrating, they don’t mean that there’s anything wrong with your body. Just remember that your vagina went through a massive change and did something incredible. Don’t be embarrassed to speak freely with your doctor about this so they can help you fix what may be bothering you.