The woman’s body undergoes many hormonal changes during pregnancy. These can lead to extra sweating, discharge in the vagina, less lubrication, nipple leaks, and more, varying in outcomes and intensity in each pregnant mom.
It is a no-brainer that hygiene, at any given point in time, is an important part of self-care but this mundane routine comes into the spotlight during pregnancy. This is because, during pregnancy, the woman’s body undergoes many hormonal changes. These can lead to extra sweating, discharge in the vagina, less lubrication, nipple leaks, and more, varying in outcomes and intensity in each pregnant mom. Besides, since doctors prefer restraint when it comes to prescribing infection-fighting drugs during pregnancy, the onset of any infection can cause discomfort, even leading to complications.
Maintaining vaginal hygiene
Pregnant women experience increased vaginal discharge which sometimes stimulates bacterial growth. It can lead to ‘bacterial vaginitis and, if left untreated, can cause complications for the mother and get passed onto the infant during delivery. A simple solution to maintaining your personal hygiene is wearing only pure cotton undergarments, avoiding very tight jeans or pants to maintain air circulation between your clothing and skin. This will keep your vagina dry and limit bacterial growth. Change your undergarments as many times as you wish since keeping yourself dry should be the topmost priority. During the last few months, with the enlarged uterus pressing down on the bladder, if episodes of urine leak occur, use a panty liner that you can change every two to three hours.
Also, wash well with plain water and avoid any unnecessary products on your vagina, including harsh soaps, since they can disturb the pH balance that is very essential for good vaginal health. Trimming of pubic hair is advised over waxing or using epilator creams to limit any chance of injury or allergic reactions.
Experts do not recommend the use of any OTC lactic acid or lactoserum-based vaginal washes. Douching (the practice of cleaning the vagina aggressively with specialized products) is definitely a no-no since any change in the delicate chemical balance in the vagina and the vaginal flora can create more trouble than good. If you notice an odour or unpleasantness, it is best to consult your gynecologist.
Simple Ways to Maintain the Vagina During and After Birth
Delivering a baby puts your vagina through plenty of trauma. Your little one’s head, which is the size of a cantaloupe, must fit through the opening, inevitably leading to pain and discomfort down there.
After birth, your vagina will likely tear as the baby’s head squeezes through. In fact, 95 per cent of first-time moms will experience perineal tearing. You may need stitches, and depending on the severity of the tear, recovery will take anywhere from weeks to months. Activities like coughing, sneezing, and having a bowel movement will likely cause discomfort. An itchy vagina after birth may indicate that your scars are healing.
Another unpleasant side effect of delivery is lochia—a vaginal discharge of blood, mucus, and uterine tissue that lasts for six-eight weeks. Lochia starts off bright red and heavy, then it fades to dark brown and eventually yellow. It may lead to mild vagina smells after birth, but you should report any foul-smelling odour to the doctor.
Swelling is also common, and dryness may occur because of hormonal changes. Your lady bits will likely return to normal within months, some but women report their vagina feels loose after birth—especially if they delivered a large baby. Sometimes, though, weak vaginal muscles may make you feel loose down there, and you can tighten the vagina with Kegel exercises.
So what does a vagina look like after birth? The labia may appear darker right after delivery, thanks to increased blood flow. Essentially, though, the vagina before and after birth won’t be much different.
How to Soothe Your Vagina After Birth
You knew to expect a sore vagina after birth. Heck, you spent nine months worrying about it. But what you may have overlooked was that aches, ouches, and down-there misery don’t vanish once you’ve birthed your baby. Pain in your privates can linger for days or weeks afterward.
Here, we’ve rounded up 10 mom-loved remedies to soothe your vagina after giving birth. Keep in mind that although they can be helpful with healing, they may not all be safe for breastfeeding moms.
Bottom line: Always consult your doctor before trying any at-home remedy.
A Sitz Bath
It’s common for first-time moms to tear their perineum (the area between the vulva and the anus) during vaginal birth. To relieve the pain, fill a sitz bath or basin with warm water. This increases blood flow to the area, helping it heal and repairing the tissues faster.
You can do a sitz in a clean bathtub or with a kit that many hospitals supply in the postpartum unit. “With the kit, you place a small, shallow basin over the toilet seat, fill it with warm water, and sit on it so that your vulva and perineum are submerged,” says Page. “For the bath, fill with three to four inches of water—just enough to submerge your hips and buttocks—and sit. For both, soak for 20 minutes a few times a day.”
A Spray Bottle
Your torn and swollen vagina after birth makes postpartum peeing a less-than-pleasant experience. Meet your new best friend, the peri bottle: a small, handheld plastic squirt container. Simply fill it up with lukewarm water and spritz yourself while peeing to dilute the stinging potential of urine. Plus, the warm water is soothing to your delicate tissues. “Avoid spraying water directly into the vagina, however, or that’ll cause more discomfort,” notes Kelly Kasper, M.D., an OB-GYN at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis. Give yourself even more squirts post-pee to rinse off blood and urine—and to sidestep the whole cringe-worthy toilet paper situation.
A Hair Dryer
After you finish peeing, peri bottling, or sitz soaking, stand or sit with your legs apart, and aim your hairdryer about six to eight inches away from your damp nether regions. Set the dryer on the lowest setting and on cool, and move it around, much like you would if you were drying your hair, for no more than three minutes. “While this won’t necessarily ease the pain in your vagina after giving birth, it can help prevent it,”