• The Fit Midwife

7 Things That Happen to Your Vagina After You Give Birth.....

I know, I know..... It isn't the nicest thing to think about, I guess it is still pretty taboo for some.

I have read so many posts and articles that don't even use the word VAGINA. So if it makes you cringe then I am sorry, but you should get used to it. You have either just had yours out whilst you birthed your baby or you will be doing so in future.

Why are we talking about it? Well, you spend all pregnancy worrying somehow you will tear from hole to hole. That it will never be the same 'down there'. And in reality.... It won't be.

Mother Nature... as magnificent as she is, can also be a bit of a b*tch. The changes that occur in pregnancy and labour often hang around a while.

The changes that happen down there are quite normal and some will subside as the hormones leave your system and you return to a pre-pregnancy routine with some things. There are certain things you can do (those cheeky pelvic floor exercises) that can help ensure the transition post delivery moves a little quicker.

So those changes we talk about....

1. Loss of Muscle Tone/Strength:

Think about the pelvic floor... It is effectively a sling of muscles holding in the bladder, uterus etc. When that uterus has a baby in it which is getting larger every week the added weight of that on this sling of muscles is considerable. Also, relaxin (a hormone that literally relaxes your muscle) is coursing through your body.

So it is normal that your pelvic floor may weaken slightly. That is why some women wet themselves in the later stages of pregnancy.

My advice... start doing your pelvic floor exercises now and don't stop until you are sure you will never ever need them again. And find a good PT/Exercise group who can work your core and pelvic floor in preparation for labour!

2. It will feel stretched out and 'looser':

Sorry for the use of the word loose there. But let's be honest. You have pushed something the size of a watermelon out of something the size of a lemon.

The muscles and tissues have stretched. There may have been a tear. Everything will feel so different. It may be that it takes a few days before that mind-muscle connection works properly again and you can get back to those pelvic floor exercises again. Don't worry if you are trying but cannot engage them, keep practicing.

Also, it will not feel this way forever. You are not destined to have a vajayjay like a wizard's sleeve...... Well unless you ignore any and all rehabilitation and exercise. Don't say I didn't warn you. Prevention is better than a cure!

3. Numbness:

Fear not, nothing fun is usually left numb by labour. But there is a risk of nerve damage from labour and birth. Some nerves can become impinged during labour. You baby's head can sit and push against these nerves, temporarily giving you the numb sensation either inside or outside the vagina. This can be very common in someone who has stitches to repair any trauma or has suffered a third or fourth degree tear.

If this happens and sensation does not return within four weeks then please go and see your doctor.

4. Tears & Stitches:

First time mums almost always tear. It is just the way it is. Remember the watermelon analogy I used earlier. That is why. It is normal.

If you do tear you may have stitches. Stitches are absolutely necessary if the tear cannot be left to heal well by itself.... you don't want everything flapping around and then healing like a Picasso painting.

Stitches are done under local anaesthetic usually. Maybe a spinal block if the tear is significant and more complicated (3rd and 4th degree). But the aftermath is like having stitches anywhere else on your body. You will experience inflammation, discomfort, some itching as the stitches dissolve. You may scar more than usual (known as keloid scarring) and this may lead to some numbness as mentioned above.

Things will calm down but it usually takes a good 6 weeks for things to feel normal again. As soon as you can start doing your pelvic floor exercises. This will speed up the healing process.

5. It Hurts.... A Lot:

Again. There really isn't any sugar coating this fact. Sorry. One friend (who shall remain nameless) once told me 'It feels like Black Beauty has repeatedly kicked me in the f*nny'.

After the first few days it generally becomes a bruised like discomfort. Sitting down isn't comfy. Which is a bugger if you are sat down to feed baby every couple of hours. Get yoursealf an ice pack, wrap it in a clean towel and stuff it down your pants. It will help. I promise. You can also get one of those sexy foam rings to sit on, for people suffering from piles (which by the way you may also develop too).

Stay on top of your painkillers, change your pads often and do those pelvic floor exercises (cannot emphasis that enough).

Drink plenty of water. If you do this it will dilute your pee and not sting everything as much!

6. Bits may change colour:

Yes you read that right. I mean we are talking about some slight pigmentation changes, largely down to hormones. You will not look like you have the bottom half of the Grinch. If you do I suggest you leg it to the Doctor.

So don’t be worried if your vulva (which in case you didn't know, is the area just outside the vagina that includes the labia, clitoris, and the perineum (the skin between the vagina and rectum)) changes shades after delivery.

Colour changes can also affect women who have had C-sections too. It is still down to hormones.

These changes may fade over time, but they will never go away fully.

7. You will bleed for a while:

It is a bit like the worlds longest period. Sounds amazing right :/

The bleeding you have after delivery is known as 'Lochia', it is a mix of blood, mucous, and fluid. The first few days you will have what resembles a normal period. By that I mean bright red blood, maybe some clots (if they are as big as the palm of your hand then please contact a Doctor) and it will resemble a heavy period.

This bleeding will get less and less over 4-6 weeks. Becoming paler and paler until it resembles your normally monthly discharge. The time this takes will vary from woman to woman.

You only need to refer to a Doctor if you are concerned about any of the following:

- Excessive bleeding (soaking through pads quickly)

- Offensive smelling discharge

- Large clots

- Excessive pain

- Itching

So there you have it.... All the delightful vagina goings on post delivery. Let's be honest, that is probably all that will be going on down there for a while. But now you know what to expect. The bits some people do not actually tell you about. The slightly gross stuff but the stuff that will be your reality nonetheless. I'll leave you with an awesome quote from Betty White because she is an absolute legend and speaks the truth in this particular case.........

Nikki xx

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