Author: Jessica Moffitt, BS, CHES
Yes. I said it. I’d like to talk about my vagina. More specifically, let’s talk about all pregnancy vaginas and vaginas after childbirth.
First thing is first- get your pelvic floor exercises in now.
Seriously, even if you are just 1 day pregnant, starting them now will make a world of difference. I found that at the beginning of my pregnancy they were super easy, but by week 30 or so, I could tell things were getting tight. I could tell days that I forgot to do them. And I could feel the support they brought while I was walking. I didn’t have even the slightest amount of incontinence. Which was great because I was definitely concerned about that. I also didn’t have constipation issues or morning sickness either. Which was also wonderful. But I stuck to my pelvic floor exercises with a 90% diligence, did yoga up until 38 weeks pregnant 2x per week (Ya’ll I painted my toes myself at 39 weeks pregnant). I walked a TON. And I didn’t let others help me do things I felt I could safely still do if I tried. Like bending over to pick things up, or get in and out of the car. And it made a difference. My pelvic floor felt so stable in delivery- if that even makes sense at all. I felt the power within me.
Post childbirth (and a million stitches), urinating was an issue.
So here are a few things I learned.
1. Rock back and forth on the toilet to fully void your urine. Especially if you have any sort of numbing during delivery. I don’t know how many times I thought I was done but wasn’t. I did this for a couple of days, essentially until when I rocked nothing extra came out.
2. LOVE THAT SQUIRT BOTTLE. Seriously, its wonderful to have something that sprays “up there” so that you don’t have to wipe. A little warm water goes a long way when you are feeling like a hot mess. Take it home with you. I used mine until my stitches were healed.
Also, while you may not have stitches, it’s still possible that things are going to be overwhelming down there for a moment.
Here are some tricks I learned.
3. Witch Hazel was nice, but I LOVED my Sitz Baths from Earth Mama. It was like a warm bubble bath for my vagina, but safe for my surgery.
4. Herbal Perineal Spray (again, Earth Mama). A little mister bottle to spray down there for instant calm. It was wonderful.
5. Ice was great when it was too painful for me to sit, but remember that ice decreases blood flow and therefore slows healing. A heating pad I found was very comforting as well.
6. Oversized cotton grandma panties. I am telling you. Just trust me on this. It was so wonderful. And I kept my pregnancy leggings and support bottoms for a while as well, as those were super comfortable, too.
And regardless of which route you choose basic hormone response indicates that you will have a dry vagina for a while.
I only found one solution to this- but I had to order it. And I wish I would have already had it.
7. Coconut Oil. In fact, I got organic, beauty grade, fractionated coconut oil in a pump bottle. It was money! Side note: you cannot use coconut oil when you are using latex condoms. It eats away the condom, and you know what that means. You’re welcome.
Pelvic Floor strengthening.
I tried this right away. Bad idea. It took some time, but I got there. I did the exercises I was doing before pregnancy, and a lot of walking. Stairs also seemed to help a lot, which was great exercise and I could do those in the comfort of my own home- and my grandma panties.
You can find a local physical therapist certified in Pelvic Floor Therapy using this directory
Mostly, above all else, I was patient with myself. I didn’t compare my progress to that of my friends. I didn’t read blogs from other moms about how long it took. I ignored the Instagram pictures of moms doing back flips with 6 pack abs 2 weeks postpartum. I took care of me, loved me, waiting patiently for those stitches to dissolve, and followed the doctor’s suggestions on how long to …. wait.
Those other areas, while we are at it.
While we are talking about all the things our vaginas need, let’s talk about the rest of the body. I made it out of pregnancy with zero stretch marks. I gained 48 lbs, of which I have lost 41 thus far, at 5 months postpartum. I have a few small stretch marks on the underside of my breasts, as they tend to go from Ds to DDDs in a matter of a few hours. But otherwise, the stretchmarks are non-existent. I used Earth Mama’s Belly Oil every night before bed starting at roughly 10 weeks pregnant, and the sweet orange baby lotion after the shower. I put lotion on my entire torso, and an extra heavy coat on my sides and flanks. I avoided varicose veins, which I contribute to my husband’s obsessed desire to walk miles every day during my pregnancy. I didn’t have Diastasis Recti, but I did get the brown line on my belly, which is also gone. And though we do fairly well with breastfeeding, the Nipple Butter from Earth Mama was extremely helpful the first few weeks. I now use it for all chapped business, including lips, peeling sunburns, and summertime chaffing of the bikini line. So diverse!
As mamas, I find it best for us to be honest with each other. To tell the truth, so to speak, about pregnancy vaginas and vaginas after birth. We are doing a disservice to other mamas by pretending pregnancy and childbirth is all glitter and unicorns. Take a moment to make sure your friends are ready for the most amazing journey (IMHO) yet in their lives, but don’t be afraid to give them the gift of pregnancy vagina products, either.