When you’re pregnant and imagining the days and weeks after the birth, you tend to focus on your baby, not so much your own body and recovery. Maybe that’s why so many new moms who deliver vaginally head to Google to find out what they can expect from their vagina—specifically, if and when it will ever be the same. We also search for info about healing from tearing, unusual discharge and the dreaded first postpartum poop; there are also longer-term challenges like prolapse, incontinence and prolonged pain. There are so many vag-qualms that no one ever taught us and that we are too embarrassed to talk about, which is why we take to Google. It’s actually kind of sad.
Kate von Schellwitz, a pelvic floor physiotherapist in New Westminster, BC, agrees, and wishes moms would talk more openly about their vulvas, both among themselves and with their healthcare providers. “If somebody brushes you off or says, ‘Oh, that’s just normal after you have a baby,’ find a different practitioner,” says von Schellwitz. “Leaking pee is not normal. It’s common after childbirth, but it’s not something you should be expected to live with.”
That said, there may be some changes to your lady bits that are permanent. You might, for example, look or feel a bit different to your partner when you’re being intimate. And that’s OK—motherhood changes you and it can be empowering to find acceptance for your new kick-ass bod.
One last thing: If you’re experiencing actual pain in your vagina or vulva, and it’s been more than six weeks since you gave birth, something might be up. There are a bunch of different reasons your vagina might hurt, either during sex or otherwise (one of the most common reasons is pelvic floor muscle spasms, for the record). But vagina pain isn’t something you need to simply accept. There are plenty of treatment options to talk to your healthcare provider about, such as pelvic floor therapy like the kind von Schellwitz offers, vaginal dialators, Botox injections, psychological therapy (not because the pain is in your head, but because pain affects your life), and more.