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Does Your Vagina Hurt After a C-Section? An OB-GYN Explains

There are many things to “recover” from after childbirth — whether you have a C-section or deliver vaginally. There are definitely pros and cons for each method of delivery, and both come with their own sets of recovery rules and pains. But is there any overlap? Does your vagina hurt after a C-section? I mean, you can expect your abdomen and incision to hurt enough for everyone, but bonus points if your vagina comes out unscathed, right?

Unfortunately, Dr. Jamil Abdur-Rahman, an OB-GYN and medical travel blogger along with his twin brother for TwinDoctorsTV, says it certainly is possible for your vagina to hurt, depending on the circumstances surrounding the C-section. “For example, if a patient has been laboring prior to a C-section, then she is likely to have post-operative vaginal pain. This is because during labor, with each labor contraction, the baby's head is thrust upon both the cervix and the vagina,” he explains to Romper. “Now, consider that during labor, the uterus can generate a force that is up to 100 Gs or 100 times that of gravity. So, if a 7 or 8-pound baby is being thrust upon the cervix and the vagina every two to three minutes with uterine contractions for an extended period of time, that is the equivalent to 700 or 800 pounds of weight being pressed upon the cervix and the vagina every two or three minutes for an extended period of time.” Well yikes, when you put it that way.

It also depends on how long you’re in labor prior to your C-section, according to Abdur-Rahman. “After all, if a woman has 700 or 800 pounds of weight being rhythmically applied to her cervix and vagina for 10 hours before having a C-section, she is more likely to have more vaginal pain than a woman who had the same weight being rhythmically applied to the cervix and the vagina for only one or two hours,” he explains.

Unfortunately, not only will you have some vaginal pain after a C-section, but also incision and pelvic pain within the first two or six weeks after a C-section. But Abdur-Rahman says that the pain is the most intense the first two or three days. “After the first couple of days, while some degree of post-op pain may be present for as long as six weeks, most people should notice that their pain is getting better and better each day." He notes that if your pain doesn't start getting better and better with each day after post-op day two, or if your pain gets worse, it could be evidence of a complication like a uterine or wound infection.

How long until you’re healed, both vaginally and otherwise, and able to move around comfortably and pick up your baby and other kids? “Most moms are up and about and walking the halls the day following their C-section, and are also able to pick up and hold their babies within two days of their C-section. Depending upon their pain tolerance however, some may require a little extra help, and if they do, that's both normal and OK,” Abdur-Rahman says. “In terms of moving around comfortably, most moms are able to get around with little more than mild discomfort within two weeks of their C-section." By the time six weeks has passed, the tissues that were cut during your C-section have "largely healed," he explains and "regained about 90 precent of their pre-surgical strength."

Apparently, none of the tissue will be back to their “pre-surgical strength” 100 percent, and there might be some mild discomfort, but you should be able to resume normal activities after six weeks.

Unfortunately, it looks like you may be coping with some vaginal pain even if you deliver your baby via C-section. Thankfully, you should be almost back to 100 percent six weeks after you deliver your baby, vaginally and in your pelvis and incision. Just be sure to listen to your body and monitor your pain levels — this is not the time to be a hero. If you don’t notice a change toward feeling better after a couple days, that should warrant a call to your doctor.

Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.