For many new moms, the pressure to "bounce back" to your pre-baby body can be tremendous. It's easy to be inundated by social media posts from new moms who get back into their pre-maternity clothes in almost no time at all. And to be pretty blunt, this pressure fir pre-baby perfection can apply to your nether regions as well. That's why it's important to know how giving birth vaginally affects your vagina later in life, so you can have realistic expectations of your bits in the coming years.
Even when you're caught up in the whirlwind of new motherhood, it's normal to wonder about your healing process from time to time. Just how different will your new normal be from where you started? You recognize that the idea of birth "ruining" your body is ridiculous and cruel, but it's OK if you're also somewhat concerned about the changes and how they will continue to affect you. The body is designed to withstand the birthing process, sure, but pregnancy and birth are still major undertakings.
Oh, and as far as "bouncing back" goes? It just adds unnecessary pressure on new moms who have literally just created a life. Really, it's OK if any part of your body is forever changed by the experience.
But just incase you're wondering, here are a few of the ways your vagina changes forever after giving birth.
1It May Feel Looser
Assume your delivery goes as well as can be expected, and you don't have to suffer from any tears or other complications. In this case, it's still common for your vagina to feel a bit looser or more open after giving birth, according to the National Health Services. It may not completely revert to its pre-baby state, but for most women this is not a problem.
2It Could Make Future Vaginal Deliveries Difficult
Unfortunately, complications during birth are far from rare. But according to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, most women recover well from perineum tears, although in some cases you may have difficulties with future vaginal deliveries. A C-section may be needed for the next kid.
3It Could Affect Your Sex Life
If you have to undergo an episiotomy, the American Pregnancy Association noted that it may lead to issues with scarring that affect your sex life. These procedures are becoming less common, so it's a smart move to see whether you really need an episiotomy for any future pregnancies.
4It May Require Exercise To Tighten Up
Almost every piece about the post-birth vagina sings the praises of pelvic floor exercises. In fact, according to Baby Center, doing pelvic floor exercises may help you tone the vaginal muscles so you'll enjoy sex more. Also, stronger pelvic floor muscles may help any subsequent pregnancies go more smoothly.
5It May Take A While To Recover
If you have an exceptionally big baby, will this stretch out your stuff forever? No, but it may affect your recovery time. As explained in Baby Center, having a big baby may cause your vagina to feel larger after you give birth. But, as further noted by Baby Center, some Kegel exercises can help you tighten those muscles up.
6It May Result In Sex Feeling Different
Will it ever be the same? According to the Mayo Clinic, sex after birth may feel different because the loss of muscle tone may reduce your sensations, although that tends to be a temporary thing. And of course, you can always do Kegels to help those muscles regain their strength.
7It May Get Worse The More Time You Deliver
Well, there may be some difference. As noted in Psychology Today, women who have had multiple vaginal births may notice some persistent "looseness," although this can typically be counteracted with (you guessed it) Kegels. Remember: you body was designed to do this.
8It Could Cause Intercourse Issues
For many women, post-birth stitches are a necessity for the healing process. But can they also cause problems down the road? According to Baby Center, around one-quarter of women who required stitches after giving birth go on to experience painful intercourse or bladder issues. You can always talk to your doctor if these side effects interfere with your daily life.
9It May Be Different For Every Person
For better or worse, there is not a one-size-fits-all answer. What your friend, mother, or cousin dealt with after vaginal birth may be very different from your experience. That said, it's always smart to listen to your body and speak up with a healthcare professional if something seems amiss.