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Pregnancy

How is my Body Different After Having a Baby?

Jennifer Lincoln, MD, IBCLC, Board Certified OB/GYN
January 3, 2019 . 2 min read

Having a baby changes so many things, including your body. Celebrities make it look easy…but that is definitely not the real story!

If you had a vaginal birth, your perineum had to stretch so you will probably be swollen or sore after delivery. If you had a laceration or episiotomy, that will need to heal. It can be normal to feel numbness, tingling, or even occasional pain as this area heals.

Many women wonder if having a vaginal delivery permanently “damages” the vagina, and the short answer is no. Talk to your provider if you have ongoing concerns, but rest assured that symptomatic prolapse is rare in the childbearing population. Doing Kegel exercises can help prevent issues with prolapse later on and is beneficial for your overall pelvic floor health.

You may also notice hemorrhoids or varicose veins in your vulva. It is important to avoid straining as this can make them worse, so be sure to use stool softeners if you are constipated. Medicated sprays and sitz baths can provide some relief, too. These tend to shrink or go away with time.

Leakage of urine can sometimes show up for the first time during or after pregnancy. Kegel exercises and the tincture of time can help with this too, but if this is very bothersome to you or doesn’t seem to be improving, be sure to check in with your doctor as treatments do exist.

Many women wonder about long-term breast changes after having a baby. A common question is “Will breastfeeding leave me with saggy breasts?” The good news is that breastfeeding is not to blame. The “bad” news: your breasts will be different, but it is because of the pregnancy itself (the hormones and growth). That is, avoiding breastfeeding won’t change the outcome.

Sex may be uncomfortable early on, and this is usually because of the normal healing process. Additionally, breastfeeding lowers estrogen levels in the body, so that can cause vaginal dryness. Topical lubricants and appropriate foreplay can help, but be sure to seek care if you are having persistent pain.

Keep in mind that it can be normal to have a diminished sex drive after having a baby. This can be chalked up to physical recovery as well as fatigue, fear of pain, and life with a newborn and lack of opportunities. Try to reconnect in different ways, and give yourself the freedom to take your time.

If you had a C-section and are worried that your scar is very dark, keep in mind that it will continue to heal over about a year’s time. Numbness or tingling around the scar can be normal for many months, but if you are in pain you should talk with your doctor.

Reviewed by Dr. Jen Lincoln, November 2018

Sources:

  • The American Congress of Obstetricians/Gynecologists
  • Your Pregnancy and Birth
  • 4th ed.

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