How to Care for Your Vagina after Giving Birth
- By Serre Stick | July 22, 2018
Welcome to motherhood! Very few events in life are as memorable and rewarding as holding your newborn in your arms.
Delivering a baby is a joyous and a stressful experience at the same time. Though you may feel blessed ushering new life into this world, it is also a period of adjusting to the new role and addressing the physical and psychological health challenges it brings along. More often than not, new mothers tend to neglect their health due to the lack of time and change in priorities. They often spend sleepless nights feeding the baby, changing diapers, and meeting the newborn's needs.
Caring for the vagina after delivery is an important aspect of postpartum recovery as this anatomical area undergoes several changes during and after childbirth. Though the vaginal tract is extremely resilient and designed to let a tiny human pass through, it may take months to come back to its normal state.
After delivery, it is normal for a woman to experience dryness, soreness, and irritation in the genital tract, scar tissues, urinary incontinence, and a laxed vagina. However, if not managed well, each of these after-effects can take a toll on your well-being and quality of life.
Here are five effective tips that can help you take care of your vagina after childbirth, thereby enabling you to transition into the new role with ease and stay healthy and happy.
1. Address Medical Concerns
Whether you had a quick vaginal delivery or pushed for hours before going in for a C-section, your body has a lot of healing to do after childbirth. It is normal to experience vaginal bleeding and discharge, urinary incontinence, soreness, and pain when sitting or going to the bathroom.
Some women also experience hemorrhoids (swollen vein in or around the anus) and contractions or after-pains. Moreover, if you have undergone an episiotomy (a cut made during the delivery to enlarge the vaginal opening), you may experience soreness and discomfort as the incision may take some time to heal.
Applying ice packs around the vaginal area is an effective method to reduce the pain and swelling. Gynecologists also recommend making a sitz bath to relieve the pain around the genital tract caused due to hemorrhoids, stitches, or fissures.
Childbirth weakens the vaginal and sphincter muscles, often making it tough for a new mom to make it to the bathroom in time. Treat urinary incontinence by doing Kegel exercises regularly, thereby strengthening the pelvic muscles that support the bladder.
Though the above-mentioned concerns are common after childbirth, it is important to watch out for a few warning signs of an unhealthy vagina such as excessive bleeding, irritation and stinging sensation, fishy smell, and strange bumps around the genital tract. If you notice any of these signs, get in touch with your gynecologist immediately.
2. Don’t Ignore Basic Hygiene
Good hygiene is critical to the health of your vagina as after childbirth it is prone to infections, rashes, and allergies.
You don’t really require anything other than a mild soap and warm water to clean the sensitive area. Avoid douching and using perfumed products to clean your private parts as they cause vaginal irritation and increase the risk of infections such as bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, and pelvic inflammatory disease.
Also, the use of tampons increases the risk of infections and rashes. It is, therefore, wise to use disposable maternity sanitary pads that are highly absorbent and safe.
Several products like vaginal creams and wet tissues claim to be safe for use in the vaginal area; however, it is wise to consult your gynecologist before investing in one.
3. Pay Attention to Your Diet
Childbirth, medications, hormonal changes, poor diet, sleepless nights, and stress can wreak havoc on your vaginal health, thereby causing utter discomfort and irritation in the area. However, research reveals that a healthy diet can significantly improve your sexual health, lubrication, and pH balance, thereby warding off infections and vaginal health issues.
Good bacteria, namely the lactobacilli family, support vaginal health by maintaining a suitable pH and acting as a barrier against pathogenic microorganisms. Consequently, it is critical to consume food items that are rich in antioxidants and encourage the growth of good bacteria. These include plain yogurt, sauerkraut, pickles, cheese, concentrated cranberry juice, green tea, garlic, soy, citrus fruits, green vegetables, and food rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Keep your body hydrated to boost blood circulation and reduce vaginal dryness and cramps. Sugar and alcohol are not vagina-friendly and can promote yeast infections in the vaginal tract and worsen menstrual cramps. If you crave sugar, a little dark chocolate can help you feel better as it is packed with antioxidants, healthy minerals, and a natural stimulant called phenylalanine that triggers the release of dopamine, a “feel-good chemical”.
Furthermore, include fiber-rich food in your diet to avoid constipation and the ensuing pressure on the vaginal tissues.
4. Consider Vaginal Rejuvenation
Satisfying sex keeps the romance alive in a relationship, is an excellent stress buster, and boosts fertility. Though you and your partner are thrilled about having a new family member, physical and emotional intimacy remains a critical aspect of your relationship and deserves priority.
A vaginal delivery often leads to the stretching of the vaginal canal, causing a lack of sexual desire, lubrication and orgasm issues, and dyspareunia or painful sex. Neglecting vaginal health post childbirth can put a damper on your sex life and ruin your relationship with your spouse.
A vaginal rejuvenation therapy can help you overcome your most intimate challenges, boost feminity, and revive your confidence. Whether you go for an invasive or a non-invasive procedure, vaginal rejuvenation can improve the health of your vagina, bringing your sex life back to its normal state.
Talk to a qualified sex therapist or a gynecologist to get the best advice on various vaginal reconstruction options to restore your vitality and feminine confidence. Treating vaginal laxity after childbirth will improve your sexual function and the level of intimacy between you and your partner.
5. Opt for Postpartum Pelvic Therapy
Though the birth canal is intended for childbirth, most women experience a perineal tear (injury to the tissues around the vagina) or need an episiotomy during delivery. This may cause the vaginal area to be sore, leading to pain and discomfort when sitting, passing stools, or having sex.
If that is the case, consult your gynecologist or a pelvic physical therapist who can help improve the health of your pelvic muscles. Besides assessing the pelvic muscle damage and massaging sore areas, the therapist will also prescribe a few exercises to alleviate the symptoms of postpartum trauma, urinary incontinence, and vaginismus (painful spasmodic contraction of the vagina after birth).
Take Home Message
The joy of holding your baby in your arms can make it easy to forget about the painful labor and childbirth you have just gone through. However, failing to care for yourself after delivery can have a lasting impact on your health.
During childbirth, your vagina and the tissues surrounding it are the most affected, severely impacting your sexual health and quality of life. Thus, it is critical to take special care of your vagina after giving birth.
The tips shared in this article will help you recover from a vaginal delivery, thereby enabling you to enjoy a healthy and happy life after childbirth.