Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sex, Childbirth, and Tight Vaginas

It's been raining for days on end here and, as a result, I've spent a fair amount of time goofing around on the internet while my son totally destroys my living room.  I came across a thread on a website I frequently check and it left me more than a little disgusted.  The article was about the alarming rise of unnecessary C-sections, unnecesareans if you will, that are being foisted upon American women.  The comments on the article were mainly about whether a woman should always opt for a Cesarean so she can keep a "perfect" and tight vagina.

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Nearly 33% of babies are now born via C-section and that percentage has risen for the last 13-years.  If that doesn't alarm you, then you just don't understand why a Cesarean should only be used in a legitimate emergency situation and you don't realize that 32.9% of births are most certainly not emergency situations.  I wonder why no one brings up the incredibly high C-section rate in this country when discussing maternal mortality because it most certainly has an impact on that number.

I understand why Obstetricians may push for a C-section.  They do have prohibitively expensive malpractice insurance costs because parents want blood, or money, if their child is born with anything that can remotely be considered a "defect."  Doing something, even if it's a major abdominal surgery, is viewed as better than nothing; that is, letting a baby be born the way nature intended - through the vagina. 

A certain John Edwards, yes that John Edwards, and his lawsuits concerning cerebral palsy (basically he blamed vaginal birth and, though there is no real evidence to prove that, juries bought his argument) can certainly be thanked for a sharp rise in C-sections.  Practicing defensive Obstetrics and adopting the line of, "when in doubt, cut it out," absolutely has to do with bloodsucker attorneys.  It is interesting to note that the cerebral palsy rate is roughly the same though Cesareans have increased dramatically in the last several years.  But this really isn't about a womanizing failed political candidate who fathered a child while his wife was dying of cancer.  This is about how the medical & legal system, and society in general, is failing women and failing newborns.

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A Cesarean isn't something to be chosen lightly.  It is a major abdominal surgery.  Major!  Understand that a mother who has experienced (in my opinion, suffered is the better word) a C-section will have to recover from a major abdominal surgery while caring for a newborn and any other children at home.  She is more likely to struggle while establishing a breastfeeding relationship because she probably didn't get to nurse her child for an hour or more after delivery and a six-inch scar across her lower abdomen doesn't particularly make it comfortable to have an 8-pound bundle of joy resting on the incision to nurse.  She is more likely to have complications while recovering from childbirth because, in addition to delivering a baby, she experienced a major abdominal surgery.  She is also more likely to die from childbirth (during and after) than a mother who delivers vaginally.  And that's just negative impact on the mom! 

The baby is more likely to have breathing difficulties because they didn't get the benefit of having their chest squeezed through the birth canal, thus helping to clear their lungs.  The baby doesn't get the benefit of the exposure to bacteria present in normal vaginal flora, which is thought to help reduce asthma, allergies, and various infections.  The benefits of breastfeeding for infants is well-documented and babies born via C-section are less likely than their vaginally delivered counterparts to enjoy these benefits for any length of time.  The baby, a newborn, is exposed to the analgesics and anesthesia required to perform a major abdominal surgery.  This one really gripes me because I lived a very clean life when I was pregnant and I believed that a spinal would not reach my son. . .guess what?  Regional anaesthesia does reach the baby.

Before I get a bunch of breastfeeding Cesarean survivors all up in my grill, let me be clear that I'm living proof that it's possible to establish a good nursing relationship - even if you had what is called an "elective" c-section, but it will be a more difficult endeavour than if you'd had a vaginal birth or at least experienced some labor.

I'm not against necessary Cesareans; they do absolutely have their place in Obstetrics.  They absolutely can save the lives of mothers and children.  But they are performed far too frequently in America and hopefully everyone understands why a vaginal birth is preferable to a Cesarean (in the absence of a true emergency) in terms of maternal and infant health.  Even the word "emergency" might be confusing because many women have been lied to about what is a true emergency.  For the record, "failure to progress" does not usually signify an emergency; it signifies that the OB wants to go home for the day.

I might add that the true disservice being done to the unnecesarean victim isn't even apparent until the woman wants another child.  In some areas and with some doctors, a woman who had one C-section will deliver all future children in the same fashion.  Kinda makes you question the motivation behind the actions of some "cutters, " doesn't it?  After all, Cesarean deliveries are billable for far larger amounts than a routine vaginal birth.

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It's hard to argue with what I've written thus far because I haven't just been spouting my opinions today.  Note though that my position about Cesareans, vaginal births, and vaginal birth after Cesarean (VBAC) have only been strengthened by the facts that I've learned about childbirth in America while I researched this post.  Needless to say, I will absolutely prepare myself as much as possible to have a VBAC when it's time for this baby to be born and I'm thankful that our HMO does encourage women to have a VBAC if possible and if the woman so desires.

I've written how the medical and legal system fail women and now I want to focus on how society fails women on this issue.  The myth of the "perfect" vagina is just that - a myth.  The "perfect" vagina does not exist.  Unfortunately, a lot of women do strive to achieve vaginal perfection and they are disappointed when they realize that it is not realistic.

Outside of mainstream porn with their proliferation of vaginas that have clearly had vaginoplasty and labiaplasty, most vaginas are pretty damn weird looking.  It's a dark and mysterious place that looks funny inside and out.  But guess what?  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I'm willing to bet that the individual you have sex with thinks your vagina is freaking spectacular and they probably would love to get in it every single day.

Does vaginal birth "wreck" or "blow out" your vagina?  I don't know because I've never experienced a vaginal birth, but I'm inclined to say that it does not get ruined by childbirth.  If it did, no one would have more than one child.  Seriously, think about it.  If vaginas are left permanently floppy and sloppy after childbirth, why would it get penised enough to get the woman pregnant again?  The man would have a really difficult time ejaculating if his penis didn't get any friction from the vaginal walls and no ejaculation equals very slim chance of pregnancy.

I'd imagine that the first few times having sex after a vaginal birth aren't really all that great.  Perhaps it might still feel a little slack weeks later or maybe stitches (if she was cut or tore) are still irritating.  Well, women who have vaginal births aren't the lone rangers when it comes to awkward post-childbirth sex.  In my typical way of sharing way too much information, sex after a Cesarean isn't exactly awesome and it very nearly brought me to tears (and they weren't tears of joy) because my incision site was so damned painful more than six-weeks later.  And that's not even the entire story.  I know it makes no sense, but things somehow felt different on the inside to me too and not in a good way.  I guess what I'm trying to say is that I figure that post-childbirth sex isn't going to be the most mind-blowing sex ever experienced so get back in the habit and eventually it will be great again.

Have you (or your partner) experienced vaginal birth?  Were Kegels practiced prior to birth and afterward?  Long clenches, short & rapid clenches, or a mix of both?  What was the end result of the vagina?  Did it feel any different?  Was sex better, worse or about the same?  Am I crazy for throwing caution to the wind and risking the size of my tiny vaginey by deciding to have a VBAC?

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I know that I've touched on some fairly controversial issues in this post today.  I hope that any comments can be respectful and that we can express ourselves without belittling or attacking each other.  Remember to fight the position, not the person.


  1. I had a good-sized baby out the vajayjay (8lb 14oz, a large head that was completely round - never moulded - and a hand up by his face as he delivered). Even with all of those factors, my tiny 'giney was back to normal when we got the all-clear at 6 weeks. Sex was, and still is, just as awesome as ever!

  2. I have had 3 kids come out of my vajayjay and all is good. I did get cut all 3 times and had stitches. It actually felt a bit tighter afterward. Yes my vagina looked a bit different on the outside than it did prebirths but still works the same and the hubby says I have a "pretty pussy". Lmao.

    Also, if u can Heather, go all natural, no epidural. I did all natural with all 3 and glad I did. Adrenalin kicked in and pain was not as bad as I thought it would be but don't get me wrong, it still hurt.

    1st baby weighed 8lbs 9oz, 2nd baby weight 8lbs 14.75oz and 3rd baby weighed 8lbs 7oz

  3. Thanks, Mandi & Stacey, for the feedback and encouragement!

    Stacey - I plan to go totally natural too. It's nice and somewhat unusual to hear someone giving much encouragement in the way of a drug-free vaginal birth so I really appreciate your comment. And a big LOL at your hubby's compliment!