"Oh my God will my vagina ever stop hurting?" They aren't words I ever thought I would utter to husband, and I'm far from being prudish about my language. But then our daughter came along and cracked open any remaining reserve I had about sharing personal details, especially those that involved the ongoings of my nether regions. Turns out, I'm not alone. In fact, most women I asked about the state of their lady parts during the postpartum period said something similar and it sounded a lot like, "Ow." But how long does your vagina hurt after giving birth?
"Depending on the extent of the damage will determine how much vaginal pain you will experience," Dr. Sherry Ross, OB-GYN and Women’s Health Expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California tells Romper. "The first couple days you will be swollen and sore even if you didn’t tear or have an episiotomy."
Ross, who is also the author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women's Intimate Health. Period., says if you needed stitching, the recovery process will take four to six weeks since the sutures take that much time to dissolve. "The pain from stitches will be more noticeable during the first one to two weeks," she adds.
Also notable: If it’s your first baby, you have a likely chance to have some form of tearing, Ross says. "I always reassure my patients the decision of cutting the vagina or letting the tissue tear naturally is determined at the time of the delivery," she says. "There are many factors determining how much tearing will take place during a vaginal delivery." That includes how long the woman has been pushing, how large the baby’s head is, how swollen the vagina is, and whether or not there is any reason to deliver the baby quickly due to fetal distress.
And, while it is true that every woman has a different childbirth experience, one thing is for sure: They feel pretty similar about the ouch-factor.
"Yep I thought my insides were just gonna fall right out," Dana wrote when I posted the question to my social mediums. "It's like you've been horseback riding for a really long time."
Katy agrees, telling Romper, "Two words: sitz bath. My vagina was so f**king beat up I welcomed and used that bad boy. It was the best five minute breaks for the first four to six weeks. Ten years later and [my daughter] still is a pain in my ass!"
Jana says she too found relief in uncommon places, particularly from that nifty plastic bottle they stash in your bag as you are leaving the hospital (hint: it's for cleaning your lady parts to avoid excess wiping and it's a godsend). "I have never looked at a squirt bottle the same since," she says. "It is a sacred object full of divine power."
You're laughing too, right? Not because it's funny, but, because, man, can you relate like no other.
My sister Amanda had her first baby nine months after I had my daughter. I remember her calling me about three weeks in and saying that she had said to her husband, "I just want my vagina to stop hurting."
Like my sister, Brittney commented and told Romper that it's funny how quickly women get over what they once may have categorized as embarrassing. "The day I got home from the hospital, I realized I couldn't get up onto our bed. Like, it hurt way too badly and felt like I would rip in half if I tried to climb up. Luckily, my father-in-law was on his way over to visit and brought a step stool so I could get into bed. I was partially mortified, but mostly grateful."
Other women weighed in and said the resulting pain of childbirth surpassed anything they could have imagined. "I was in labor for 31 hours with my daughter, and pushed for three — apparently the wrong way," Crystal wrote. "Eventually she was vacuumed out. I was not able to sit directly on my butt for at least seven weeks. I had to sit kind of cocked on one side of a cheek. That first car ride home was agony."
Misty agreed adding, "I remember it being OK, as long as I didn’t move. But if I so much as lifted my eyebrows, I thought I was done for. The thumping in my pelvis was unreal! And if I took a long or wide step, my pubic bone felt like I broke it in half."
And then there was Norma who noticed an audible snap during the birth of her daughter — it was her tailbone. She says 22 years later and it still occasionally hurts, and, like Katy, she teases her daughter that she is also no less of a pain in the butt.
Like Norma, a couple of decades allowed Karen to find a bit of humor in what went down during the delivery of her daughter. "The doctor had to sew me up with three packs of suture material," she says. "As he finished his last suture he leaned back, turned his head to the side, and announced that I looked like a patch work quilt."
Ross says the silver lining at the end of all of this is that "the vagina is very resilient. The vagina will be close to 'as good as new' within six to 10 weeks."
Which, as any mother will tell you, is how you are able to do it all over again, right? Because you forget the pain of it all. Well, that and those cute baby faces. I mean, they're pretty freaking worth it.
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