“VAGINAS ARE AWESOME!”
What Every Woman Should Know About Her Vagina
Before She Gives Birth.
I have been a vagina specialist for years. Most importantly, because I have one myself (and I pushed a baby out of one). My secondary qualifications are that I have been a labor nurse for eight years, which means I have spent more time (hours in fact) face-to-face with more vaginas, than I believe, anyone of practically any other profession (including anyone in any of the adult industries). If you can correct me on that I would love your info and line of work, please.
Thus I would like to clear up some very important misconceptions about BIRTH and VAGINAS. Caveat: if you have any specific questions about your vagina, please consult with your healthcare professional of choice.
#1 – Vaginas Are Meant To Stretch and Return To Their Normal Shape and Size After Birth
I didn’t come up with this – nature did. One of my favorite doulas during labor once told a hesitant daddy, “Think of how big your penis can get. Vaginas do that too!” Vaginas are meant to push babies out and then return to a normal size. Yes, every vagina is different, and every birth is different. Some women experience physically traumatic births and can take longer to recover. But such experiences have less to do with the BIRTH itself and more to do with the MANAGEMENT of the birth … or provider’s allowing the birth to unfold with minimal management vs. intervention (episiotomy, forceps or vacuum).
I didn’t say that your vagina would be exactly the same as it was before giving birth. It will be different. On an exam its obvious whether or not a woman has given birth before. But remember, different can be good.
#2 – Just Because You Have a C-Section Doesn’t Mean Your Vagina Won’t Change
The changes that happen to your vagina usually have more to do with pregnancy and natural changes in your pelvic floor than the actual birth itself. That said, many vaginal births, especially those managed by midwives, are very minimally invasive compared to the typical scheduled C-Section. Midwives tend to examine the cervix less in labor, allow labor to progress more naturally without labor induction agents, allow a woman to begin pushing spontaneously on her own, protect the perineum with compresses and oils, and are more hands-off during the actual birth. Meanwhile, C-Sections involve a whole lot of pushing, pulling and tugging that can affect the entire pelvic floor.
Image via Pelvic Health Solutions
#3 – Your Sex Life Might Actually Be BETTER After Birth
It’s true – many women find that sex is more enjoyable after giving birth. Women that used to find sex uncomfortable or even painful might find it pleasurable for the first time. A beautiful birth can build confidence and comfort in a woman’s own body that she never before experienced. I found this to be true myself. THAT’S SEXY.
Vagina Watercolor by Liz Darling, for Purchase on Etsy
#4 – You Own It – Now Love It
Believe it or not, you have a huge impact over protecting the health of your pelvic floor, as well as preventing issues later on. Contrary to popular myth, many of us who have given birth before can still jump on a trampoline. Here are some things you can do during pregnancy to prepare your ladybits for birth.
1) EAT WELL
Good food nourishes your entire body, including your pelvic floor and tissues. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables for vitamins and minerals, consume healthy proteins including lean meats, nuts and beans, drink bone broth to strengthen collagen, and get plenty of iron to enhance blood stores and help fight infection.
Try these three poses, especially a regular SQUATTING practice, to strengthen your pelvic floor prior to birth.
3) PLAN A MIDWIFE-ATTENDED BIRTH (Especially at a Birth Center or at Home)
I started my career as an assistant for a homebirth midwife. One of my duties was to compile the statistics for her homebirth practice, including data for lacerations (tears) during birth. Her stats blew me away – one-third of her first-time moms had an intact perineum (no tear) after birth! Midwives let women follow their instincts, move during the pushing stage, and allow the baby to emerge gently rather than forcibly.
4) HIRE A DOULA
Doulas have been shown to reduce the need for birth interventions such as episiotomy, forceps or vacuum-assisted delivery — interventions which all increase the risk for a worse tear and/or lasting damage to the pelvic floor.
5) LOVE WHAT’S YOURS
Be at peace with your body. Love it and nurture it and be proud of what it can do. I honestly believe that when women embrace what’s theirs rather than being embarrassed or ashamed, their birth process (and sex life afterwards) can be pleasurable rather than painful.
Cosmic Vagina Pillow for Purchase on Etsy, Image via @carriagehousebirth