Your beyond birth vagina -- how long to heal, really? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 24 Old 01-30-2009, 12:07 AM - Thread Starter
 
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After reading that Chinese medicine considers the postpartum period to be two years, and that the UK considers it one, I'm beginning to think that six weeks is a far from realistic length of time to be healed from birth!

I'm 12 weeks pp. I had the "perfect" home water birth with just a minor tear, but I feel kind of depressed about my vagina. It doesn't hurt, and DH assures me that I feel like the good ol' me, but my "ladyfriend" just doesn't feel like herself. I'm also not sure she looks like she should . . . why didn't I look down there prior to pregnancy to have a reference!! The only illustrations I can find are super cartoony and it's hard to tell what "normal" should be. I used to have a very free and relaxed attitude towards sex, but now, the few times we've DTD, I feel so nervous, and that does not help.

At my 6 week check, the midwife said everything looked fine, but I'm going to see an OB/GYN next week to make sure. I mean, I know I should expect things to be different than before a baby passed through, but I can't shake this feeling of fragility. Is this in my head? (Maybe this is really a touch of the baby blues . . . I should have that addressed as well).

Anyway, I'm looking to hear from you mamas on how long it really took you to feel normal and comfortable with yourselves again.

Thank you!
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#2 of 24 Old 01-30-2009, 01:22 AM
 
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Five months before sex felt good again. Honestly though, it's only recently (19 mo PP) that I feel back to normal. Of course I'm pregnant again so it will be short lived.

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#3 of 24 Old 01-30-2009, 05:34 AM
 
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Well, I'm 14 weeks PP & things are not the same. For the most part things seem ok but at times I'm still a little achy (I had a 3rd degree tear). But she does not feel the same at all - I kind of feel like she's sunk deeper into my body & is trying to take my urethra with her. And she definitely does NOT look the same. But I know the healing really is going well & I'm trying to just accept the changes (while privately hoping this isn't the permanent state of affairs).

Surviving sleep deprivation one day at a time with dd (Oct '11) & ds (Oct '08).

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#4 of 24 Old 01-30-2009, 11:37 AM
 
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After the first baby, things never quite go back to the same. It is just a part of life. As long as your DH is happy, try not to obsess about it. I know it's hard, I have been there myself!

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#5 of 24 Old 01-30-2009, 02:18 PM
 
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My vagina has never been the same since my first birth 12 years ago. It does take time to get used to the "new normal" down there and it is longer than 6 weeks, at least for me. I think it's ridiculous to expect women to be back to normal after only 6 weeks. Get checked if you need the reassurance but try not to stress too much. With sex, take things slow and give yourself some time to adjust to what's normal for you now. It probably took a good 6 months after each birth for sex to feel really good again but I'm sure that has to do more with hormones, breastfeeding and being tired than actual healing. Once my period returns, around 6 months for me, I think my hormones shift back to normal and that helps.
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#6 of 24 Old 01-30-2009, 03:38 PM
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In 4-5 mos things felt sort of normal, sex was okay but not that great. Things didn't get really back to normal until about 19 mos pp when my dd decreased nursing a fair amount and my cycles resumed.

J, mama to H (8/05) and F (3/09)
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#7 of 24 Old 01-30-2009, 03:43 PM
 
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I remember it taking about 4 months or more until sex felt "normal" again.
I know what you mean op about the fragile feeling. It's a good idea to have an ob check you if that would make you feel better. I actually did that after my last birth. I had a small tear and the midwives said it looked fine but I had it looked at again before dh and I tried for the first time, just to be sure.
I think it's more in our heads but having someone check to make sure never hurts.

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#8 of 24 Old 01-30-2009, 03:58 PM
 
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First baby, we DTD at 3 mo pp and everything was great, except I had no sex drive due to breastfeeding so we didn't really start up again until 6 or 7 mos pp.

Second baby, things were still "healing" per the midwife at 8 wks. I didn't want to DTD anyway. I think we waited until about 5 mos, and everything was fine, but again, no sex drive thanks to BF. Just got my drive back at 10 mos pp now.

Sometimes when I cough hard, I can feel something down there. I HAAAATE that. However, in terms of sexual function, everything is great. Husband says everything feels perfect and it feels completely normal/pre-baby to me also (DTD).

ETA: There are things that have changed down there, function-wise, that I will *never* get over. I've come to accept that it's different in some ways and that I hate that. I try to be healthy and I get a lot of hugs and love from my husband. Having the kids and a supportive husband make it all worth it - but there are definitely differences. I guess that's only to be expected, but it is disappointing and it can ding my self-esteem at times. However, I would say that sex itself is just as good as pre-baby. It's other things that don't work quite as well as before.
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#9 of 24 Old 01-30-2009, 04:52 PM
 
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I had a 2nd degree tear and it was about 10 mo. things felt somewhat normal (meaning DTD didn't hurt). When DD turned a year old and dropped a few nursing sessions things got much better. When she got around 18 mo, my drive finally came back. I finally got up the courage about a month ago to have look down there. Things look pretty normal, except for a big blob of scar tissue on one side of my vaginal wall. I'm pretty sure it was that "2 stitch tear" my MW told me about. I kinda wish she hadn't stitched it because maybe it wouldn't look so wierd.

On the positive side, DTD feels better now than it ever did pre-preggo. I think I'm more sensitive or something. So, at least for me, there was a happy ending!

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#10 of 24 Old 01-30-2009, 09:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for all of the responses so far -- it's nice to know that I'm not alone and that there is plenty of healing left in store (be it for my mind or body). Please, keep the stories coming!

Big hugs.
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#11 of 24 Old 01-30-2009, 10:13 PM
 
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Originally Posted by jecombs View Post
On the positive side, DTD feels better now than it ever did pre-preggo. I think I'm more sensitive or something. So, at least for me, there was a happy ending!
That's what I found too.

I didn't tear enough to stitch for either birth and I did have fairly comfortable DTD at about 10 weeks PP after both kids. I say fairly because I drank wine before the first time to relax. I can say that things have definitely changed a bit down there but I really am finding that I enjoy Post Baby relations better than pre baby # 1.

Wife to DH, Mom to my Intact Boys DS1: Born 02 Pain Med Free Hospital Birth, BF'ed for 9 Months, Partially Vax'd DS2: Born 06 via UC, BF'ed 3 years 10 months, and UnVax'd
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#12 of 24 Old 01-31-2009, 03:50 AM
 
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a midwife I worked with said - 4 or 5 months before you should expect to feel 'normal' (in many senses not just your vagina ). And that was about right for me. I didn't have sex for oh, about 9 weeks? Minor tearing too, so it was mainly just first-baby-coming-through feelings of swelling/pain/bruising/mental trauma. Sometime in between months 4 and 5, sex was great again

finally midwife mama to my home-birthed nurslings: Noemi Sakura 16.10.07 & Seder Pádraig 13.7.09 and partner to their lovely daddy
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#13 of 24 Old 02-01-2009, 05:37 PM
 
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Originally Posted by jecombs View Post
Things look pretty normal, except for a big blob of scar tissue on one side of my vaginal wall. I'm pretty sure it was that "2 stitch tear" my MW told me about. I kinda wish she hadn't stitched it because maybe it wouldn't look so wierd.
I was checking things out today and noticed the same thing- I have a big blob of tissue on once wall of the vagina near the entrance (or exit from baby's view I guess). I didn't know that it was scar tissue, but obviously that makes sense. I had an episiotomy that didn't heal properly and then had to be cauterized, I wonder if that had anything to do with that or if it was more just from the tissue being pushed down towards the "exit". In any case, for OP it took two months before I stopped bleeding and had that "granular tissue" fixed, then at least a month before I would let DH near it at all because all that was painful and I was anxious about it. I think being treated like a piece of meat in the hospital made it worse, like having the doctor show the nurse how to apply an internal monitor while I was trying to push DS out or him calling over a nurse to see what unhealed granular tissue at an episiotomy looked like and how to apply the silver nitrate- sigh it still makes me mad to think of it since I never intended my vagina to become a teaching case for presentation. So it took at least 3 or 4 months before I was willing to even think about trying again or looking to see what it looked like.

You're right though, it isn't like you can just find pictures of vaginas and say "Oh mine looks like that one so it must be just fine". I mean women actually get cosmetic surgery on their nether regions to make it conform to the images men want to see in magazines and movies. I don't feel as confident of the area since having a baby for sure, but DH loves it and assures me its perfect and says he even likes it better now. Of course he's biased.

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#14 of 24 Old 02-01-2009, 06:21 PM
 
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I think that my body was forever changed by pregnancy. Not a ton, but enough.

I agree that the pp period can be two years. There are still times that DTD hurts a tiny bit.

I do wonder if I will feel a little more back to normal after I am finally done nursing the next one. Because I've been nursing DS since he was born, even with losing all of my pregnancy weight, etc, I still never quite felt like my body was back to being "mine." And ATM, I am definitely sharing it!

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#15 of 24 Old 02-19-2009, 01:25 AM
 
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It still feels 'different' (not sure how). I had lateral labial tearing (no perineal, oddly enough). Baby is now 9+ months old. Mostly I don't feel the scars any more.

Several weeks before I felt remotely 'recovering', and months before anything like 'close to normal'. Now I would say mostly normal, though again, not quite 'good as new.'

But DH can't tell, and now that the scars have relaxed I am good with it. I probably should have rubbed olive oil/Vitamin E on the scar like the MW suggested... but I didn't.
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#16 of 24 Old 02-19-2009, 09:54 AM
 
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I think the 6 weeks is a myth pushed upon women in contemporary society.
I think 1-2 years sounds about right. I am now 5 months post partum and wow, I cam *just* starting to feel like I can stand up straight (very tough birth). Really! I was also in very good health and excellent physical condition prior to getting pregnant and I just cannot believe how I feel now. I am enjoying my baby and just had to let go and give my body time to heal: I half-expected to bounce back into my pre-pregnancy clothes and routine, right away!

Also had some 2nd degree tearing/stitching and I can still feel it. My MW said I would probably feel the stich area for @ 6 months, and it's true. We're not designed for episiotomies! (long story about why I had one, I know there was no other way to do it, but knowing how uncomfortable it is physically and emotionally, I feel so bad for those that had unnecessary episiotomies).
My vagina is healing and doing what it was designed to do and I still can't believe a baby fit through there The scarring down there : will take a long time I think for me to get over!

I felt better at the 6 week point than I do now (having heard many mothers say they feel great at 6 weeks then not so hot later on).
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#17 of 24 Old 02-19-2009, 10:10 AM
 
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Thanks for the post. I had already blown off the "it takes about 6 weeks." I was not back to normal then and just assumed that I was a slower healer. I am at 12wks pp and probably just now turning the corner to feeling more "normal." I am glad to know that others have had similar situations.
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#18 of 24 Old 02-19-2009, 10:19 AM
 
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Originally Posted by jecombs View Post
On the positive side, DTD feels better now than it ever did pre-preggo. I think I'm more sensitive or something. So, at least for me, there was a happy ending!
I'm one too who has that same experience.

Personally, I have a kegel exerciser, and I think that really helps things go back super quick! I'd say about 4-5 months here to feeling exactly like before, but it still feels good only weeks after. I'm talking sexual function. I have not had issues with anything else, maybe it's because of all the kegels. I had a first degree tear with the first and nothing with subsequent births.

Perpetually breastfeeding or pregnant ENFP mom to a lot of kids...wife to a midwestern nice guy...living in tropical paradise...pink cats and homebirths rock!

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#19 of 24 Old 02-19-2009, 05:40 PM
 
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I had a 3rd degree tear and am now almost 3 years out. Feeling pretty normal except mentally - that feeling of fragility you described nails it for me. I can look at the area in the mirror and it has healed beautifully, hardly a scar, no pain, sex is good....but I am almost 4 months preggo and TERRIFIED of tearing again. It was just so traumatic. I couldn't walk upright for 6wks and didn't ever think I would be able to have another BM in my life. So yeah, I'm totally on the 2 year recovery bandwagon - longer for the mental feeling of everything being OK.
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#20 of 24 Old 02-23-2009, 12:53 PM
 
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I tore *a lot* with my first baby because her arm was stuck under her chin and I had to push her out fast because her heart rate not good. I was literally stitched up for about an hour.

IMO, it does not look the same down there, but it's not super freaky or anything My man doesn't even notice, I think he's just glad I like having sex again.

Kegels are helpful, both during pregnancy and after.

Also, the six week thing is wacko, and just made me feel bad that I wasn't feeling great at six weeks. I've heard that it takes a year post-pregnancy for your hormones to be normal again. I don't know if this is accurate, though.

Also, you're so busy and sleep deprived with a new baby and nursing all the time, and being a first time mom takes a lot of adjustment... It might be a while until you really feel like yourself. Actually, I don't think I ever felt like the me I was pre-preggo. I just had to relax into the new me, you know?
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#21 of 24 Old 02-23-2009, 01:17 PM
 
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What does it matter how it looks, as long as it feels good?

A lot of it is hormonal, and sometimes breastfeeding interferes with the production of sex hormones (that's NOT universally true, though.) I'd say just don't have sex until you're physically healed and capable of becoming VERY aroused, and it'll take care of itself.

The six-week thing is really arbitrary, some women are physically healed and hormonally ready to go well before that, for some women it's well past that mark. If you've had mental or physical trauma, it can be a year or more.
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#22 of 24 Old 02-23-2009, 01:58 PM
 
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I guess I'm one of the fortunate ones then. DTD got better with each baby.

And down below doesn't really feel much different. I tore both times and it took a while to heal but by 8 weeks dh and I had resumed our normal relations.
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#23 of 24 Old 02-23-2009, 02:44 PM
 
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There's a chance it's in your head. I didn't have sex for 3 months after my first one and even then I felt nervous and like something bad was going to happen. I was fine and totally healed, just not over the mental hump of giving birth yet.

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#24 of 24 Old 02-23-2009, 04:02 PM
 
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For me, sex was not enjoyable AT ALL until 15 months pp and that was after I got my first pp AF. My "lady friend" lol also seems different, feels different, etc. However, now that my cycles are back my libido is WAY up and in some ways sex feels better than before!

me, dh and 2 boys = our family (oh and a cat...who is also a male...lol)
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