The vagina is a wonderful organ, and everyone wants to keep their original version. Doctors are usually quick to reassure you that it does indeed go back to 'normal', in terms of elasticity, after childbirth - or close, at least, which is what the research points to. The vagina is, after all, a muscle, and science dictates that a muscle should be able to get itself back into shape Plus, it's self-cleaning, self-lubricating and is a complete pleasure package all in one. This little miracle should be easy to makeover, right?
And yet, a lot of women don’t quite feel right after giving birth. This tends to give them self-esteem and self-image problems. Many get scared that their husbands will leave them if they 'can't go back to the way it was.' Others truly feel like the muscles are looser - which makes sense, especially if you have already pushed out a couple of babies already.
It takes anywhere between three weeks to 12 months for the vagina to return to its normal feeling. Doctors usually recommend no internal contact, particularly sexual activity, for the first six weeks of those 12 months, and yes, that includes tampons.
Soreness when sexual activity begins again is also a normal process in the journey to return, so to speak. This is because your perineum, which is the area through which the baby passes during childbirth and includes the vagina and the anus in females, is still very delicate, so it will be bruised and sore. Additionally, if your perineum tears during childbirth, or you have an episiotomy - when an incision is made on the perineum to make the opening for the baby larger - the healing might take a little more time. This applies for a caesarian section as well.
Sometimes, doing Kegel exercises before you give birth strengthens your vaginal muscles, which not only help you push, but also help your muscles contract back. However, don't do anything that your doctor doesn't tell you to do first. At the end of the day, a thriving sex life is still more than possible after childbirth. As you take time to bond with your baby, bond with your partner too and most of all, take care of your body. Giving birth is a miracle, and you are beautiful - just like your vagina.