Whether you’re a new mum, or have a brood of children, gave birth naturally or via caesarean, there’s one thing you can expect - your vagina will probably change after childbirth.
It’s no surprise that your body transforms during and after the miracle of birth. For some, this can be a change in the ‘look’ and ‘feel’ of the vagina, for others it may be pain, incontinence, scar tissue, or a prolapse.
In this feature, we look at some of the most common ways a vagina changes after childbirth, and some helpful steps for a speedy recovery.
All Natural 🌿
During ‘natural’ childbirth, a cervix can expand up to ten centimetres, then of course a tiny human to push out! It can be no surprise that this can result in pain and the feeling of being ‘stretched’ for some time after. If you have stitches, this can take up to 12 weeks to heal.
The NHS advise that swelling should resolve within a ‘few days’, and many women also swear by Epsom salt baths to speed healing and reduce tenderness.
In the following weeks and months after childbirth, things should settle down. However, women with fourth-degree tears or episiotomies may have scar tissue down below, and vagina changes after childbirth may be more visually apparent for some time.
Check out our video here with Clare Bourne a women's health physio on how to look after your vagina in those early days, and how to deal with scar tissue once you are healed….
Pelvic floor 💛
Carrying a baby, along with the muscle strain that comes with giving birth, can take its toll on one’s pelvic floor. This isn’t just resigned to women who give birth naturally – those who’ve had cesarean sections are also at risk. Some literature suggests that “pregnancy itself is likely to lead to some degree of pelvic floor dysfunction regardless of mode of delivery.”
As such, it’s important to do pelvic floor exercises (or kegal exercises) to keep muscles and the pelvic floor toned to minimise vagina changes after childbirth. This may also help prevent incontinence, an issue that a third of new mums suffer with in the first year after having a baby.
Another great option which you can start as soon as your stiches have healed is pelvic floor massages, which can help strengthen the pelvic floor post-birth, as well as loosen scar tissue that may have formed. For this, you’ll need a suitable oil, such our NESSA’s Vagina Victory Oil, which was designed with your vagina wellbeing in mind :)
Check out the full demo here with Clare on how to perform this massage here
You may feel like you left your vagina to dry in The Outback. With lower levels of oestrogen in your body postpartum, it’s not uncommon to feel a little dry downstairs. If you’re breastfeeding you may be especially aware of this.
Whenever you feel ready to have sex again, and if you feel dry, reach for your Vagina Victory Oil to help overcome any discomfort, especially around the perineum, regular massages to this area will help. If this continues to cause pain or discomfort, be sure to check with your GP that it’s healing adequately.
Scar Tissue 🌟
Women who have had an episiotomies or stitches (90% of us) will probably have some scar tissue. This can cause pain and tightness around the area. It is important to massage this area regularly to loosen any scar tissue. If you feel tight, sore, and uncomfortable down there after an episiotomy be sure to book an appointment with the GP or a women’s health physio.
A lot more common than you think, and ladies, it is treatable...
The science behind it - A pelvic organ prolapse is when 1 or more of the organs in the pelvis slip down from their normal position and bulge into the vagina. It can be the womb (uterus), bowel, bladder or top of the vagina. It is not life threatening, but it can cause pain and discomfort.
There are several treatments available depending on the severity of symptoms. Some of these include:
- lifestyle changes
- pelvic floor exercises
- hormone treatment
- vaginal pessaries
Be sure to talk to your GP and also see a Women's Physio to discuss treatments.
A Final Thought 🤔
Vagina changes after childbirth are common and natural. However, in time, and with some of the self-care tips above, you can minimise the impact of these, and get back to your pre-birth self.
Remember that no two births, babies or mums are the same, and your body is made to bounce back, so give it time.