To say your body changes a lot during pregnancy is an understatement. Some of those changes are temporary; they only affect you while you're pregnant and eventually, they go back to the way they were before you became pregnant. Others are more longterm changes that stick with you postpartum, some in a permanent way. Like, for example, your vagina. Between pregnancy, birth, and postpartum recovery, what happens to your vagina after pregnancy can only be described as mind-blowing.
When you first become pregnant, you may notice it take on a blue-ish tint. Also known as Chadwick's sign, OB-GYN Dr. Brett Worly told Parents that the blue tint to your vagina can be the first sign of pregnancy. He also said that it can appear as early as six weeks after you become pregnant, and results from a higher-than-normal amount of blood flowing to the area. It might freak you out a little bit, but it's nothing about which you need to be worried. Additionally, after you give birth, your vagina, vulva, and labia might take on a darker hue. In an interview with Redbook, gynecologist Dr. Alyssa Dweck said the dark postpartum hue is caused by hormonal changes and may or may not go back to normal after your hormone levels even out. Whether the color does or doesn't go back to normal isn't really anything you should worry about. Either way, it's natural.
The color isn't the only thing about your vagina that changes. In an interview with SheKnows, sexual medicine expert Dr. Michael Ingber said that during pregnancy — and especially as you get closer to delivery — your pelvic floor muscles will become looser, which can result in organ prolapse. If you experience vaginal, bladder, bowel, or uterine prolapse, you may have to have it surgically repaired.
Even if you don't experience any organ prolapse, you may still notice that those muscles just don't seem to be as tight and strong as they used to. Because they loosen during pregnancy and vaginal delivery, you could develop stress urinary incontinence after giving birth, in which you leak a little bit of urine when stress is put on your abs. As Dweck told Redbook, performing Kegel exercises can strengthen those muscles.
In addition to discoloration and muscle weakening, you'll probably experience bleeding and spotting after giving birth. In an interview with Glamour, OB-GYN Dr. Pari Ghodsi said that it can take up to six weeks or so for your vagina to heal, so the bleeding may be heavier at first and then taper off. There's also swelling and soreness down there to go along with the little bit of bleeding. Your vagina has been through a lot.
If you tore at all while giving birth vaginally, you'll have stitches to content with as well. According to The Bump, your stitches will probably be sore at first and then itchy later, as the area continues to heal. Although you may have scar tissue after they dissolve, you probably won't notice it too much. Ghodsi told Glamour that stitches normally take about six weeks to fully absorb, though, according to The Bump, they may absorb in as few as three weeks.
Regardless of the changes your vagina undergoes after pregnancy and birth, you'll probably need to give yourself some time to heal and adjust. And if there are any changes that seem especially bothersome, talking to a health care provider may help. They can give you advice about treatments and anything else postpartum vagina-related that you need to know.