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We all heard the rumours that things aren't 'quite the same' when it comes to your vagina after you give birth (opens in new tab).
We also all know someone who knows someone who's got a post-birth vagina horror story that would make Jaws look like a Disney movie.
But pre-childbirth, we all kind of hoped it wasn't quite true, or that it wouldn't apply to us. And though some of the anecdotes were clearly engineered and exaggerated for our listening pleasure (... or maybe not so much), there's no getting away from the fact childbirth has left us changed 'down there', despite all the work we did on our pelvic floor (opens in new tab).
Truth is, it happens to basically everyone.
So here's just a few of the 'horrifying' things that can happen to your vagina after having a baby, and a friendly reminder that, hey, we're all in this together...
1. It gets a little roomier down there
Hey, you've just pushed a small human out of a hole that's usually no bigger than a two pence piece. [insert another reminder about the important of pelvic floor exercises here].
2. And it doesn't just 'spring back' into shape, either
Much like the rest of your post-baby bod, getting your vagina to look halfway like it did before takes WORK, people.
3. Your stitches itch like hellfire
If you're one of the estimated 50% of women that need them after episiotomies or natural tearing, that is.
4. And the whole area just hurts, period
Even if you haven't torn or had a vaginal birth, pillows will probably become your new best friends.
5. The thought of anything going inside it fills you with fear
Tampons, toys, your husband... GET. AWAY. NOW.
6. And natural lubrication becomes a thing of the past...
Invest in a water-based lubricant, if you haven't already.
7. Unexpected leaks happen
At the worst. Possible. Times. Did someone say 'pelvic floor'...?
8. Everyday infections become much less bearable
Medication for things like cystitis, thrush and BV is often not compatible with breastfeeding - as if you didn't have enough on your plate.
9. It gets a little overgrown
Because personal grooming is the last thing on your mind.
10. It might not recover the way you'd expect
Everyone's experience of pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal recovery is different – and just because Martha from the baby bounce is in 'pristine' condition (she's not) doesn't mean you should be too!
11. Yet despite all this, you live in constant awe of it regardless
Now you know exactly what it can do. And isn't that incredible?