It is common for new moms or women pregnant with their first babies to worry about the size of their vagina after birth. It is no wonder that the vagina undergoes tremendous stress before and during childbirth. But this is innate to women. The female body is designed to be able to bear the child for 9 months or so and deliver it through the vagina. It undergoes several physiological changes since conception of the fetus.
Since the beginning, the body starts preparing to accommodate the growing fetus. It starts releasing hormones that help the pelvic floor muscles, tendons and tissues to expand better. This goes on till the child is delivered. Two hormones – Estrogen and Relaxin play very important roles throughout this phase. Estrogen increases the flow of blood to the vagina. This helps the elastic vaginal tissue to expand better during childbirth. Relaxin, on the other hand, helps the muscles to relax. It helps the ligaments and joints in pelvis to loosen. This enables the muscles and ligaments to expand and create space for the baby.
Will the Vagina be Normal After Delivery?
Vagina being normal after delivery depends on the following factors
1} Vaginal Stretching Factors
Your vagina is designed to stretch as you push to deliver the baby. Not only the vagina, but also the perineum, the place between your anus and vaginal opening, is designed to get stretch. But how much the vagina will stretch and whether you would need an episiotomy, depends on a variety of factors.
2} Whether you had a normal delivery or not
If you have undergone a caesarean section, then there is just minimum stretching in your vagina. This amount of stretching is bound to happen as the baby continues to push your cervix to come out. If the baby continues to push and you have decided to undergo a normal delivery, then the stretching grows.
3} The size of your baby
The size of the baby is a critical factor that determines the amount of stretching that your birth canal and the vagina will undergo. Bigger babies exert more pressure leading to more pressure.
4} Your genetics
You may or may not be genetically predisposed to undergo a huge amount of stretching. This depends on hereditary factors.
5} Pelvic floor exercises
Pelvic floor exercises play a vital role in loosening the muscles and tendons of the pelvic floor. The muscles and tendons of the pelvic floor play a critical role in pushing the baby and stretching the vaginal canal and perineum. This makes pelvic floor exercises a critical factor in stretching of the vagina. If you do your exercises regularly, the vagina will slowly undergo stretching to accommodate the baby. If you don’t do it, the stretching may be fast. This may hurt you more and may even lead to tear in the perineum. Pelvic floor exercises can tone up relevant muscles much before childbirth
6} Number of deliveries
If you have one or more delivery before, then your vagina is already stretched, though you or your partner may not notice it. Now it will undergo some more stretching. With each birth, the vagina is likely to stretch a bit more.
7} Other factors
How long you have pushed, whether the doctor has used any device such as forceps or vacuum extraction device etc are some of the factors that determine the amount of stretching that your vagina has undergone.
8} Perineal tear
If the perineum does not tear despite a vaginal delivery, then it is very likely that your vaginal tissue has undergone maximum stress and stretching.
9} Getting Your Vagina Back In Shape
Stretching of the vagina is innate to the process of labor and giving birth. After the birth, it is also natural for the vaginal tissue to go back to the original position. Your vaginal tissue is elastic. It can expand as well as contract. However, some amount of stretching may remain for some time. This is usually not apparent to you or your partner, but doctors can notice this. Given enough time your vagina may return to its original shape. But you can help it by doing regular pelvic floor exercises.
If you start doing some pelvic floor exercise after childbirth, you can help your vagina get back in shape faster. These exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and make them capable of recoiling back to original position. Start with less, but do these exercises regularly. You can do it for two to three minutes twice or thrice a day. Slowly increase it to 5 minutes and thrice a day after birth. You will get used to the exercises after only a few days.