Many women worry after a vaginal birth that what they’re experiencing is not normal, or that things like sex won’t feel the same again. Oftentimes they feel uncomfortable asking about it or choose not to talk about it because they’re embarrassed - and let’s face it, talking about healing from a vaginal birth isn’t exactly typical dinnertime conversation.
“Normal” after having a baby is relative, and every new mom's experience is different. But rest assured that what you’re experiencing is most likely normal. If you have concerns, it is always a good idea to check in with your care provider.
The vagina is an amazing muscle, biologically designed to accommodate the physical demands of delivering a baby. However, there are many other factors to consider that may impact how quickly you heal physically after birth, such as:
- How long your labor lasted
- How fast baby came through the birth canal
- If forceps or vacuum were needed to assist the delivery
- Whether your *perineum remained intact or if lacerations occurred, either by naturally tearing or via episiotomy.
*Perineum refers to the area located between your vaginal opening and your anus
Nearly all women will experience some degree of soreness after delivery, as it is very intense for the tissue down there. You’ve also just put your body through intense physical stress for hours or possibly even days.
You have probably heard the saying,
"Labor and delivery is like running a marathon."
This is true! Except this is a marathon you didn’t get to spend days, weeks, or months practicing and conditioning your body for. It is expected that you will be sore after the birth of your baby!
It is very normal for your vulva, vagina, and possibly even your anus to experience some swelling and/or bruising as everything down there has been stretched to its max during a vaginal birth. This soreness can last for a few days to a few weeks.
But no worries-- Your body will heal. You can help it by resting, using ice (those frozen pads or ice diapers may have seemed silly at first, but trust us, they can be your best friend!), and if your provider recommends it, taking an anti-inflammatory and pain relief medication can make all the difference.
As for sex? There really is no rhyme or reason for determining the best time once you have been cleared by your OB or midwife. Most care providers recommend waiting at least six weeks simply because it's important to ensure you’re fully healed. Waiting this length of time will allow swelling and bruising to go down as will also allow your perineum to heal if tearing occurred during delivery. Waiting will also reduce the risk of any infections.
Most importantly; you should wait until you feel comfortable and ready to begin having sex again. Once that time comes you can hop on over to our blog post for 8 Tips for Having Great Sex After Baby!
Authored by: Trish Morfitt
Edited by: Kaity Klotzbach