There are so many changes that happen to the body post-pregnancy. As you’re processing your new life as a mama, there’s so much to think about as your body, mind and even your soul re-adjusts to a new way of living. During this time, you might hear some ‘advice’ as people tell you what you should and shouldn’t be doing as it relates to your body. However, some things you might hear are simply not true about life and sex after birth. To bust some of these myths, we’ve enlisted the help of heymama contributor Kimberly Johnson (aka The Vaginapractor) who breaks down the truth about your body during this time. Read on for more…
Myth # 1: Because you had a Cesarean, your pelvic floor should be fine.
Truth: You may have labored first and even pushed before the Cesarean which put stress on your pelvic floor. But even if you had a scheduled C-section, you still had a baby or babies resting on your pelvic floor for nine or ten months. Sometimes the vagina tightens after a Cesarean birth and is not receptive to penetrative sex. It’s as if the vagina is confused about whether something should be coming in or going out, since the baby never completed its pathway out. I have had amazing sessions where women have experienced uterine contractions completing the birth process and then were able to have sex again.
Myth #2: If there are no open wounds, most women are ready for sex at six weeks.
Truth: Women recover from birth at different rates. Each woman has her own unique path back to sexual exchange- that includes her prior sexual self, her body image, her birth experience, prior reproductive experiences, relationship dynamics and postpartum support. Sex is not just a physical act – while women may or may not be ready physically, they may or may not be ready emotionally or spiritually for penetration. Six weeks is an average time that many women are out of the initial phase of recovery from birth. Often times, this is just the beginning of the return to a sense of self. Our sexuality evolves when we become a mother and it takes some time to discover who we are again. It’s best to go slowly and expand our range of intimacy and connection. Follow the thread of what does feel good.
Myth #3: If there are no open wounds, most women are ready for exercise at six weeks.
Truth: Most new moms can begin going on gentle walks or swimming at around six weeks. It’s a flat-out bad idea to go back to any kind of compressive exercise like running without doing pelvic floor rehabilitation first. Even if it feels okay at the moment, you run the risk of a prolapse or back injury down the line. Recovering from birth requires a rebuilding of core stability so that you can heal and strengthen from the inside out and eventually re-engage with your exercise routine. That usually takes about six months.
Myth #4: It’s your loose vagina that’s causing the problem. Your vagina got stretched out and it’s always going to be loose from now on.
Truth: Not true, after giving birth there is a 50/50 Goldilocks divide between a little too tight and a little too loose. Half of the time post-birth vaginas could use a little more activation and half the time they need help letting go. Tight vaginas needs rehabilitation too. If you are experiencing any kind of pelvic or back pain, or if you are experiencing any incontinence or prolapse, there are many potential contributors (like scar tissue, birth trauma, and muscle spasms). Weak or atrophied vaginal muscles is only one potential cause of discomfort.
Myth #5: You’re alive and your baby’s healthy, so it’s all good.
Truth: You, your life and your body are just as important as your baby’s. Your sexuality, the shape and look of your vulva, your access to pleasure are all essential parts of who you are.
Birth is an intense experience. Coming out of it alive is wonderful, but it’s not all that matters. You may not be able to just “get over” your birth experience, especially if it went much differently than you had hoped or planned for. If you experienced physical injuries or trauma, you may need support to not only heal but to mine the birth experience for the soul lessons it has to offer you. You may need support in how to move forward. Even women who had births that looked ideal to care providers or observers may have moments that need to be digested and understood.