Labor & Delivery
Here’s What’s Going On With Your Cervix After Childbirth
Your cervix plays a pretty important role in the delivery process, so it makes sense there would be some changes.
There’s no doubt about it, your body goes through a ton of changes during and after pregnancy. Not only does your stomach stretch so you can provide a home for your growing fetus, but your ladybits have to do some changing as well in order for you to get the baby out if you’re having a vaginal birth. We are talking about squeezing something that’s the size of a watermelon out of something that’s the size of a lemon here, y’all. So it’s understandable if you’re wondering how your cervix changes after childbirth because labor is a pretty traumatic experience.
After labor, your vagina and cervix may feel wider, drier, and sore (the sore part is an understatement). But what changes happened in your cervix exactly, and what can you do to help heal quickly and safely after giving birth beyond the six-week wait?
Does Your Cervix Change After Childbirth?
Short answer is yes, your cervix will be different after childbirth, but it’s only temporary in most cases.
Dr. Daniel Boyer of the Farr Institute tells Romper, “Your cervix will change temporarily in the sense that it becomes thicker and also widens up because it loses muscle tone during pregnancy, however it reverts to normal during the postpartum recovery period.”
How Long Until Your Cervix Goes Back To Normal?
Dr. Yvonne Bohn, an OB-GYN at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, tells Romper that your cervix won’t go back to normal for many weeks after delivery. “The cervix is initially dilated, floppy, and thin after the baby delivers,” she says. “Once the placenta delivers, the uterus starts to contract, and the cervix will tend to close and thicken. This happens quite rapidly, but the cervix will not be back to its normal structure for many weeks after delivery.”
Dr. Yen Hope Tran, an OB-GYN at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, adds, “Usually, it takes six weeks for the cervix to return to normal, but in some women, their cervix never fully returns to its original shape.” And that’s OK, and shouldn’t be a problem according to the National Health Institute (NHS).
What Happens To Your Cervix During Labor?
Once you are at the final stage of pregnancy and delivery, your cervix will make its final and most important change. Bohn says while your cervix is normally located in the back of your vagina near the sacrum, it will move forward during labor and it’s about 3 centimeters long. “It is firm like the tip of a nose and the opening is closed,” she says. “Before and during labor, the cervix will move to a more anterior position closer to the pubic bone, it will thin and shorten, it will become soft, and it will open to allow the baby to come through.”
Can Childbirth Damage Your Cervix?
Your cervix definitely sees some things during childbirth. “When the baby passes through it, they may cause lacerations, especially when patients try to push before they are at 10 centimeters,” Tran says.
Boyer adds, “Your cervix may tear as a result of unbearable pressure caused by the baby's weight. This is known as cervix incompetency and may happen when a woman has given birth more than once or during labor.”
Thankfully, Bohn says, “Most of the time the tear will heal or it may be sutured after delivery if it is bleeding. The tear usually doesn’t have any long-term problems, but when you are having a speculum exam for a pap smear, your provider may see a healed tear or laceration.”
How To Heal Your Cervix After Childbirth
NHS says to prevent urine leaking (incontinence) and help your vagina feel firmer after childbirth, you should work on your pelvic floor exercises, which, consequently, can make postpartum sex feel better. The NHS article noted, “You can do pelvic floor exercises anywhere and at any time, either sitting or standing up,” and they provide the following tips:
- Squeeze and draw in your anus at the same time, and close up and draw your vagina upwards
- Do it quickly, tightening and releasing the muscles immediately
- Then do it slowly, holding the contractions for as long as you can, but no more than 10 seconds, before you relax
- Repeat each exercise 10 times, four to six times a day
Dr. Daniel Boyer, a practicing medical doctor specializing in molecular biology, histology, pharmacology, embryology, pathology, pediatrics, internal medicine, surgery, gynecology, and obstetrics for Farr Institute.
Dr. Yvonne Bohn, an OB-GYN at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California.
Dr. Yen Hope Tran, an OB-GYN at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California.