After college I secured what’s called a “real job,” but it was definitely my side gig that I liked the best. Twice a week I met with a group of teen girls who had been pegged at risk, and talked to them about good hygiene, safe sex, and being an empowered woman. The first afternoon we met, skipping over the ice breakers, they began asking me questions about childbirth, the main concern being the state of their “down there,” after pushing out a baby. In more ways than one, they were asking: Will my vagina be the same after pregnancy?
Trying to walk a group of rowdy girls, who are competing for attention, through the workings of the vagina is no easy task. But after a few minutes of ridding themselves of the giggles, we were able to get down to business. After all, their question was valid; and it’s not just something curious young ladies are eager to learn about. It’s hard for most people to imagine everything going back to normal after completing the human equivalent of pushing a watermelon through a lemon. But if there is ever a time for lady parts to shine, there’s no better way than childbirth.
To prepare the vagina for a baby to pass through, your body starts making certain hormones from the moment you become pregnant. According to the website for What To Expect, both estrogen and relaxin are the pregnancy hormones that get the job done. These two powerhouses relax your ligaments and make soft tissue more elastic, so those muscles can be stretched. Each woman needs to stretch a different amount depending on how large the head of her baby is. But do all these hormones and stretchy ligaments help return the vagina to its original state after the baby’s out?
What it all boils down to are the conditions of your birth experience. If the delivery of your baby goes smoothly, over time the vagina will regain it’s muscle strength and shape, according to The Bump’s website. However, things may take a little longer if your delivery requires you to have an episiotomy. As the website for Mother and Baby pointed out, episiotomies are use for almost 50 percent of women giving birth for the first time. This is when the doctor makes a small incision in the perineum, which needs to be stitches back up once the baby is out.
Time and care are usually all that is needed for you vagina to return to it’s pre-baby condition, but it you’re eager to move the healing along, there is a way to fast track your vaginal recovery. As Fit Pregnancy magazine reported, doing a vagina workout can help to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. This can be achieved by practicing multiple sets of kegels each day. Simply put, it’s the tightening and releasing of your pelvic muscles.
If you need a visual, use the one I told those inquisitive girls as we sat around a conference room table. Imagine a rubber band stretched, then released. Sometimes it snaps right back, and other time it takes longer for it to regain its shape. But in the end, it’s still a rubberband that works the same each time it’s asked to do its job.