While going through normal delivery, the baby travels through the birth canal (cervix and vagina) to eventually come out into this world through the introitus (entrance of the vagina). During childbirth, all these structures are stretched extensively to allow the baby to pass through. As the birth canal dilates to accommodate the baby, the structures around it—the bladder and rectum, for example—are also stretched by being pushed outwards. The weight of the baby along with strenuous pushing weakens the pelvic-floor muscles, which support the internal organs. When this happens, the bladder, uterus, or bowel or all three can shift from their normal positions. Besides this, the skin between the vagina and anus gets bruised and might tear or be cut (episiotomy) by the doctor to allow the baby out. An episiotomy or vaginal tear might hurt for a few weeks. Extensive tears might take longer to heal.
The most common vaginal symptoms and discomfort a new mum may feel include:
Pregnancy and birth stretch the connective tissue at the base of the bladder and can cause nerve and muscle damage to the bladder or urethra. This might cause leaking of urine on coughing, straining or laughing (also known as stress incontinence). Fortunately, this problem usually improves within 3 months. In the meantime, do Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. Tighten pelvic muscles as if stopping the stream of urine. Initially the muscles don’t appear to move but it is important to go on trying and they will start working. (It’s no differ ent from training your abs or biceps—you want to make your pelvic muscles taut.) Try it for 5 seconds at a time, 4 or 5 times in a row. Work up to keep the muscles contracted for 10 seconds at a time, relaxing for 10 seconds between contractions. Aim for as many sets of 10 repetitions a day at any time during the day, for instance while watching TV or chatting with friends on the phone.
Enjoying Sex Life
Sexual intercourse can be resumed as soon as one desires it and it is comfortable. If delivery causes tearing, or if an episiotomy is done, sexual intercourse should be delayed until the affected area heals to avoid pain. Using Kegel’s exercise while having sex may help make it more enjoyable for both partners especially in the initial phase after child birth, when the vagina is still lax.