So, you’ve pushed out a baby from your vagina / vulva / kooch / grand va-jay-jay. Congratulations! You’re a mummy now! Oh, and you have a new vagina too. Wait, didn’t anyone tell you?
Warning - this story contains content that may cause you to cross your legs!
I was raised to believe sex was reserved for marriage and vaginas were strictly for making babies. Or periods. Or wees. Sadly, there was little discussion in our household about pleasure.
My relationship with my vagina had a rocky start. Then I hit my twenties.
I discovered I could take charge of my own sexual destiny, and (gasp!) pleasure myself. By my early 30’s, I knew and loved every inch of my body and my vagina. I loved how it felt and how it looked, from the colour, to the folds, inside and out. It was all such familiar territory for me.I’d even reached the point of feeling so comfortable about my body I could happily masturbate while looking at myself in a mirror. Say what? Yes, I could!
I fell pregnant at 34
I’d heard horror stories of what birth could do to a vagina’s appearance, but no-one went into detail about how it might ‘feel’ afterwards. To prepare for childbirth I threw myself into a course called the Pink Kit, designed to reduce the chances of tearing and interventions and arm me with all sorts of bonus information. To be fair, it worked, but in a way that only a first-time mother would, I expected my beautiful rose lady garden to be back in full swing soon after.
How wrong I was.
For the most part, the birth was a calm, collected and connected experience, up until an agonising drive to the hospital where I arrived – fully dilated - ready to push bubs out on the reception floor. By 7 am I had a butt-load of hemorrhoids, a doctor stitching up a small tear, and a baby in my arms. Post-birth, and now home, I discovered the joy that is a freezer full of padsicles, yet I still had no idea what awaited me by the time my vagina healed.
The day I met my new vagina
For those playing along at home, 6 weeks is possibly too early lift the hood on your newly modified nether regions. I know this, because this was precisely when I decided, with one foot propped on the edge of the bathtub, to take a mirror to my still-aching loins.
It was like a car crash I couldn’t look away from.
My vagina’s opening (which I could never really see unless I was pushing down on my pelvic muscles) looked like a dog panting with its mouth wide open. (WTF?) Naturally, I burst into tears! No one told me my post-baby vagina might not be the same colour or shape that it used to be. My once blush-pink punani was now ‘bruise purple’ and looked like it had endured a stampede of elephants. No one told me that sex with my partner might feel very different either (which as I later found out could be a great thing 😉) And nobody mentioned I might struggle to recognise the vagina in the mirror or that I’d need to get to know this part of my body all over again.
My advice on babies, boobies, bodies & vagina's?
Take your time. Don’t expect your body – tummy, boobs, stretch marks, va-jay-jay et. al. – to bounce back straight away, or at all. It’s okay to not fall in love your new body immediately. Give yourself time and permission to get to know your new body; its different appearance; its new likes or dislikes.And one last piece of advice? Swap your handheld mirror for a glass of wine. You may well need one after reading this anyway!
Shannon Gilleland is a mother, entrepreneur and the genius who's making the toughest job in the world easier with Pronto-Bottle, the world's first self-cleaning baby bottle. Find her at @prontobabybottle