Here’s the question every woman wants to know but is too afraid to ask: What happens to your lady parts after you have a kid? Will they bounce back, or will you have to live in droopy vagina hell forever?
When I first got pregnant, the postpartum aftermath of my vagina was literally the last thing on my mind. There was a registry to create. A nursery to decorate. A name to pick. Childbirth classes to attend. (And the list goes on.) I was able to conveniently keep my mind off my vagina (and my vagina off my mind), until I popped that baby out and it was just too late.
It happened. I gave birth. And my vagina was ruined forever.
Fortunately, my “woe is vagina” attitude was a touch dramatic. In the vast majority of cases, your lady business does bounce back quite nicely after birth — in my case, two births. But in order to preserve your sanity in those first few hormonal weeks after having a baby, it helps to know what you’re getting into. This is the real deal, from moms who have been there, about what your vagina is going to look like after you give birth.
1. It’s a horror show
There is no mincing of words here. If you look below the waist mere hours after birthing a baby, it may haunt you for all of time. Jill Smokler, mom of three, editor in chief of Scary Mommy and author of Confessions of a Scary Mommy, says, “There is nothing quite like a vagina after producing a child. Actually, think of the nastiest horror movie you’ve ever seen — the one you had to turn away from because it was so grotesque, so unthinkable and so horrific even the mere thought of it makes you shiver? That’s a vagina after birth. Whatever you do: Do not look. Or you will regret it for the rest of your life.”
2. It’s bloody
Speaking of a horror movie, I hope you listened to your doctor when he told you to buy postpartum pads, and plenty of them. Eileen Zyko, mom of two sons, confirms: “Stretched-out, painful vagina aside, it was more blood than I ever thought possible coming out of my body for weeks. I wish that was ever mentioned in any book or by anyone. Seriously, the worst part about the whole thing. That and the sitz bath!”
3. It hurts
I would love to pretend I skipped off into a field of dandelions after vaginally birthing an 8-pound baby boy (twice), but that fantasy did not play out for me, and it did not play out for stylist Jeni Elizabeth either — a “war hero” mom who went through 52 hours of labor with her son. Elizabeth’s biggest takeaway from birth was how much her hoo-ha hurt: “You will never ‘forget the pain.’ It will haunt you forever. However, it’s worth it.”
4. It’s torn
Why is your vagina hurting so damn much after having a baby? It could be because your lady flower just stretched to accommodate a human head like it was no big deal. It could also be because, like so many women before you, your baby cannon tore, and the doc had to stitch it back up. While thinking of a torn vagina is enough to turn any woman’s stomach, one Reddit mom of two remains fairly upbeat about the whole ordeal: “She was 9 pounds, 3 ounces. I had a second degree tear. I had to use a peri bottle to pee for at least three weeks, and thanks to Pitocin (a.k.a. the devil’s juice) my entire body was sore as well. I didn’t get the courage to look down there for two months, and it wasn’t too bad. My labia minora were a little longer, but I wasn’t too upset because they were almost nonexistent previously.”
5. It’s stretchy
There are two words I wish to never hear together again, and they are: stretchy vagina. No, thank you, please. Following the unmedicated birth of her son, Anna Lane of Misadventures in Motherhood said that she mistakenly assumed she could hop off the table and get to mothering. Nope. Lane explains: “I guess no one bothered to tell me that your vagina gets so stretched out that you feel as though you’ve had an instant gender reassignment surgery. And the rug burns on your labia! Oh my goodness, the pain.”
6. It’s veiny
Veiny postpartum vaginas don’t happen to every new mom, but they do happen to some “lucky” ladies. When asked about the state of her postpartum baby box, Jamie H., mom of two and owner of Toys in the Dryer, keeps it short, sweet and very, very real: “Varicose veins! Large, ugly varicose veins on my labia!”
7. It’s inside out
Now we come to the “somebody hold me” portion of the article. Gaby Merediz, mom of two boys and owner of Make Your Perfect, says that after the birth of her first son, her vagina looked surprisingly normal. Fast-forward to baby No. 2, and Merediz was dealing with a whole different animal. “My vagina is now inside out. Yep, that’s right — there is definitely skin on the outside that feels a lot like what was supposed to remain on the inside,” Merediz recalls. “When I was feeling around to see how everything was, um, feeling down there maybe three weeks after delivering my second baby, I noticed a hard spot toward the back wall of the vagina. When I called my midwife to ask her about it, she said, ‘That’s OK. It’s just a little rectal prolapse.’ Rectal what?!? I had images of my butt turning inside out, too. Kegels, she assured me, would hold everything back into place again.”