I looked at my vagina for the first time since giving birth the week before my 6-week postpartum checkup.
I'm so glad I did.
I won’t lie, this scared me a little. I had a third degree tear and many stitches along my perineum. They eventually dissolved but turned into bumpy granulation tissue. When I touched my perineum during showers, it felt swollen, tight, and irritated.
It dawned on me recently that I should view my pelvic floor injury from giving birth in a similar way: rehab the heck out of it, and do maintenance when it acts up!
Coming to this revelation took self-reflection. I resented the idea of perpetual maintenance of my pelvic floor. Why can't it just work? I also resisted viewing my experience giving birth as "traumatic" or that it injured me. Those words "injury" and "trauma" are so loaded, especially when it comes to the act of giving birth.
But, then I realized, I don't have to view giving birth as "either/or." Birthing my son was an intense, emotional, difficult, easy, magical, real, out-of-body, in-the-body experience. Regardless of what emotion I attach to the experience, the reality is that I did sustain a pelvic floor injury.
I had my son about three and a half years ago and I STILL have linger issues from that perinatal time in my life. The seven hours of pushing, vacuum assisted delivery, and third degree tearing no doubt have a lot to do with where I am now. As you might imagine, I had persistent vaginal pain, for months. The intensity of it lessened over time, but I was never really comfortable until I sought professional help.
Ever wonder whether to see a physical therapist during and after pregnancy? Folks at Therapydia Denver sat down to ask their in-house pelvic physical therapist (Cami Hatch, DPT) about treatment for pregnant and postpartum women.
Check out their guest post below to learn more about when to get treatment, how to prepare for common postpartum issues, what treatment can look like, and more!
It took me seven months after giving birth to get myself to see a pelvic physical therapist (PT). But I should have gone much sooner. Perhaps around the six-week postpartum mark.
Instead I suffered more than half a year with a wobbly back, unstable-feeling hips, back and shoulder pain, vaginal heaviness, and incontinence (urinary, gas, and ocassionally fecal). I hoped it would all go away on its own since, well you know, childbirth is natural.
Congratulations! You had a baby or you're about to. Your poor awesome bottom is (will be) most definitely sore. In the midst of taking care of that precious little human, don't forget to care for the orifice she came out of. If you didn't already do so, put together a postpartum kit to nurse that vagina and supporting area back to health. Better yet, have someone grab these items for you.
When women have pain for so long, society has said, that’s an expectation for women, and so many women feel guilty about it and don’t want to talk to their providers. Or when they do come into for their 6-week postpartum, or a couple months after, and things still don’t feel good, they can be “poo-pooed” on. The issue is not really addressed to their satisfaction and that can be discouraging.
We were at the “Connect with Your Core” workshop for moms and pregnant women aimed to connect us with our core and feel stronger in our own skin. This workshop led by Frances Darnell of Dynamic Core offered a space for us to be with ourselves, our bodies, and a community of women. We engaged in honest conversations about prenatal and postpartum experiences led by local perinatal professionals.