Whether you are anticipating a first-time delivery or are just even comparing this article to your own personal post-partum perineal experiences, this blog is all about what to expect down there after the birth of a baby. Some of the most common questions asked of those that are first-time mothers is whether or not their vagina will really be able to stretch enough to accommodate their baby’s head. They may also wonder whether or not the perineum (the tissue between the vaginal opening and the rectum) will stretch or tear on its own or if the expertise of a practitioner will encourage an episiotomy which results in an incision in the perineum that allows Baby to come out a little easier? And, of course dependent upon all of the above, how long recovery will take and what to expect during that timeframe.
Of course, every woman is unique and her labor and delivery will be also… even varying between each child should she have multiple births. Still, sharing some of the miraculous ways that the vagina is set up for childbirth success are sure to ease your mind some surrounding what is more-than-likely to happen.
Since the beginning of your pregnancy, your body began releasing pregnancy hormones specifically meant to prepare you for the birth of the baby. Estrogen has been increasing to bring more blood flow to the folds of the vagina so that this elastic connective tissue is capable of stretching during childbirth as you push.
Your vaginal ligaments and tissues in the pelvic area will also expand to meet the needs of pushing the baby through the canal more easily. It can vary between bodes, of course, depending on the size of your baby(ies), genetics, physical health and physicality of your pelvic area. If you did kegel exercises, these too can help with the strength and elasticity of your vaginal muscles.
If this is not your first delivery, you may find that your vagina is less tight and that you’re able to deliver with a little more ease the next time around. If you have a vaginal delivery and the perineum does not tear, you can expect to feel sore and uncomfortable as well as feel the stretching that took place and has likely left visual bruising. This can last about one month or so and is best discussed during your postpartum check-ups with your primary care physician. When you cough or sneeze, you may feel more discomfort and you may even urinate a little as the muscles that typically tighten to hold urine are weakened during this time. This is one of the main incentives behind our Apele everyday undies.
If the perineum tears during delivery or you have an episiotomy, you’ll feel sore and experience some burning due to the tear. You also may notice some light bleeding from the area, coupled with heavier bleeding that accompanies the release of placental fluid and other uterine lining from the pregnancy.
Be sure to take it easy and to share the levels of discomfort openly with your OB at return visits for postpartum care. Remember that your body knows what to do and billions of women have given birth over thousands of years. Trust your body and your instincts!