When a woman is going through pregnancy, it's common for her to have questions regarding birth and post-birth. It's even more common for these questions to address the pain she may or may not feel at the time. When I went through my first pregnancy, I often wondered about birth-related pain, but never postpartum pain. I hadn't thought to ask "how is my vagina supposed to feel postpartum?" But when the postpartum soreness set in, I wish I had.
To be fair, I did think about how giving birth might affect my vagina long-term, but I didn't necessarily apply that to how it would feel the days and weeks following. Or what legitimate changes to expect and the healing process moms go through after birth.
According to What to Expect, it's important to remember that your body is made for childbirth and, in fact, has been prepping to give birth by releasing estrogen and relaxin throughout your entire pregnancy. Additionally, the amount of vaginal stretching that will occur is totally individually based. The overall effects during birth will depend on things like genetics, baby's size, prior deliveries, exercise you've done to prepare, and more. So in the days following, not every mom's vagina is going to feel the same. There are, however, some typical feelings to expect.
One is soreness. After giving birth the first time, I had to brace myself in order to move around on the bed, stand up, or sit down. During my childbirth, there was some vaginal tearing, which isn't as scary as it sounds and totally normal, according information Certified Nurse-Midwife Katie Paige shared with Parents. Tearing did, however, lead to a lot more soreness for me the first time around. Because there wasn't tearing with my second birth, my soreness level was much lower, although still present. So it's fair to assume that any mom who has had a vaginal delivery will feel sore. It's not extremely painful or constant aching; instead, it's soreness that just requires some extra caution and rest while healing.
Afterwards, your vagina also may feel like it will never stop bleeding, according to The Bump. This is normal. OB-GYN Susan Bliss told The Bump that postpartum bleeding can be like a heavy period and last several weeks after birth. Additionally, you may feel some small contractions, cramps, or waves of blood from your vagina, especially while breastfeeding. That's good and means your uterus is getting back to its normal size.
National Health Services shared that you might also feel looser or more open directly following birth for a while. Your vagina may even look or feel bruised and swollen. You've pushed several pounds of baby from your vagina, and so the feeling is to be expected. It won't be that way forever, especially if you're doing exercises to get your vagina back in shape (only after you've gotten the OK from your doctor).
After birth, you can expect your vagina to feel different for several weeks during the healing process. Every symptom from bruising to an episiotomy healing and any other challenges can take up to six weeks of recovery time. For a fairly uncomplicated vaginal delivery, on the other hand, three to five weeks may be all the time you need.