Childbirth, if you didn’t know, is not easy.But once you’re done popping out a sprog, the fun isn’t over.
Mums can end up with torn perineums, wrecked ability to pee, and a damaged sex life.SAD!
Small prices to pay for the joy of bringing life into the world, right?
All the not-so-pleasant after-effects of birth aren’t something we tend to talk about.
Usually we’re more focused on cooing over the new tiny human in the world – meaning that new mums going through struggles can feel like the only ones wetting themselves, feeling pain, and generally not feeling that blissful.
That’s why it’s important that women open up about their experiences.
Zoe George, the mum behind The Subtle Mummy, wrote this week about how giving birth left her vagina ‘broken,’ getting very real about sex after having a baby.
Zoe explains that when she gave birth to her first child, he had to be delivered with the help of forceps, creating a ‘blood bath.’
After that was all over, she looked down to see her vagina. It looked a little different.
‘Describing it as looking like a hamburger, more like a whopper, would be putting it nicely,’ writes Zoe.
‘That image will be forever burned in my mind.If Frankenstein’s monster had a vagina, I know EXACTLY what it would have looked like.
‘I needed about four of those vajayjay icy poles and three overnight maxi pads to contain that Joker’s smile.’
When Zoe returned home, things didn’t get much easier.
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‘I struggled with breastfeeding, struggled to pee, struggled to even sit on a toilet without feeling like my insides were going to drop out of the gaping hole that once was my vagina.
It took six months for Zoe and her husband to even think about sex – but when the topic came up, Zoe says she was ‘petrified.’
They tried, it was awful.
Zoe went to her gynaecologist, who told her that it was perfectly normal for sex to feel pretty different after having a baby – which was probably reassuring.
Another six months went by and Zoe and her husband decided to try for another baby.
Sex wasn’t much easier.
‘By “trying” I mean I would cry whilst biting on a pillow, enduring sex while my poor husband tried to get the job done as quickly as possible,’ explains Zoe.
She went back to her gynaecologist, who examined her and found that scar tissue from botched tissues were the cause for all her sex-related pain.
‘He described it as three bands, like the skin between your pointer finger pulled taut, and anytime anything rubbed on them they feel like they’re tearing,’ Zoe says.
‘Basically, it was scar tissue from my stitches and I could either have surgery to fix it (and then have an elective cesarean so as to avoid the same thing happening again with a natural birth) or “bear through it” until we conceived and then “hope the next baby tears the same spot so that it can be re-stitched more carefully.”
‘I decided to give the latter option a go for one more month, and thankfully it worked.’
Through continuing to try, Zoe developed vaginismus – when the vagina’s pelvic floor muscles tighten so nothing can get in without extreme pain.
Zoe had to go through physio for her vagina, using dilators going from the size of a little finger to a cucumber to relax and release the vagina.
A few months later, Zoe gave birth to her second child. Thankfully, the baby tore Zoe in the same spot that her first child had, meaning the area could be stitched up properly.
‘Within a few days I could already tell that I was feeling more normal down there,’ writes Zoe, explaining that while she’s still not ‘100% relaxed down there,’ she’s come a long way from the painful, tear-filled sex she was having a year ago.
Zoe explains that she wanted to share her story to open up the conversation around sex post-childbirth, and show other women struggling that they’re not alone.
‘I have been embarrassed to write this story for a while, but every time I meet someone in person and tell them they are surprised and feel really terrible for me that I went through it,’ she writes.
‘I told this story to raise awareness of the issue, it was a hard one to share.
‘I am putting the most private information out there for the world to read.
‘Yes, I did put a funny spin on most of it, but that’s how I tell all my stories.
‘If you can’t laugh at life then you cry, and crying ain’t fun.
‘Please respect that I also come from a culture where we don’t talk about these things openly and I am mortified at the thought of my family reading it, but it’s all for the greater good, I say.’