8 Things My Vagina Actually Looked Like After Giving Birth

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I have always been super "in touch" with my reproductive anatomy. Maybe it was due to reading Our Bodies, Ourselves as a teen, being a peer counselor in high school, or working for a reproductive health provider for much of my 20s and 30s, but I have always been comfortable talking about vaginas, vulvas, clitorises, and occasionally grabbing a mirror to check mine out. That is, until I gave birth. There are things you can't un-see, you guys, and what your vagina looks like after giving birth is one of them.

Now, I am quite aware that my external reproductive anatomy is called my vulva, and not my vagina. However, following childbirth, I am sad to say I could see both. My labia was torn, there was a large, gaping hole, stitches on my perineum, an insane amount of bruising, and so much blood. I honestly wish my midwife had warned me not to look. I learned the hard way that when it comes to your postpartum vagina and all that it entails, some things are better left to your imagination.

You would think I would have learned my lesson after the first time, but nope. I looked at my under bits after my second child was born, too. I didn't have any stitches that time, so I though it would be better. Sadly, it was bad in different ways. My labia was dry and cracked and one side was longer than the other. I worried that it would never get back to normal, and that I would never enjoy sex again. Fortunately for me (and the rest of us postpartum women, by the way) vaginas are amazing, and I don't have any complaints in that department.

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So, in case you are wondering (but don't want to look yourself) and want to know what to expect, here's a preview of what you might look like downstairs after birth. My advice is to do yourself a favor and resist the urge to look.

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A Bloody Mess

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There was so much blood, you guys. I bled for weeks, continuing to wear the mesh panties I had stolen from the hospital and incontinence pads to catch the heavy flow that was my postpartum bleeding. No one warned me that pads can stick to stitches, either. Ouch. I discovered that if you rinse, and then apply some Vaseline or Aquaphor to your labia and perineum each time you change your pad, your body will thank you.

A Horror Show

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My vulva looked like a stranger looking back at me from the handheld mirror. A stranger who had been in a horrible accident and now was covered in blood, stitches, swelling, and tears. My poor vagina. I'm so sorry.

A Gaping Hole

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My vagina went from being a narrow ravine to a giant cave immediately after birth. It was huge and scary. I avoided looking too deeply into the abyss.

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Dry, Cracked Skin

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Even if you don't have stitches, your vagina might still be sore, bruised, or, in my case, dry and cracked after birth. Yikes. It should be back to normal in a few weeks and after it has a chance to heal and your hormones start to regulate. In the meantime, though, I suggest you use a peri-bottle with warm water to prevent stinging when you pee.

Raw Meat

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Yeah, so it looked like raw meat — dark, purplish-red, bloody, and bumpy. It was so much darker than normal, and I had freaking varicose veins on my labia. Pregnancy is magical, they said. Uh huh.

An Open Wound

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During my first vaginal delivery, I actually watched my child enter the world with the help of a giant, full-length mirror. It helped me push to see her beautiful, tiny head covered in hair crown. My vagina, however, was not so beautiful. Right after vaginal delivery, I asked them to put the mirror away. It looked like an open wound: red, swollen, and bloody.

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Uneven

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Yeah, one side of my labia was much longer than the other. I mean, logically it made sense, but no one told me that might happen. I was pretty unprepared for my basement curtains to be uneven.

I Have No Idea

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So, the last time I gave birth my son got stuck with his hand by his face and facing the wrong way. Fortunately I didn't feel any of that, thanks to my magical epidural. The doctors finally got him to turn around, and I was able to deliver vaginally. From the way it felt, though, I knew I didn't want to know how it looked at the time. So, I didn't look. I waited to visually check it out a few months after delivery. Can I just say that ignorance is bliss? By then, it was pretty much back to normal. I 10/10 would recommend.

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