I recently read an article titled, ‘By the Way, You Don’t Have to Breed’ – I guess it was a bit of a click bait article that I got sucked into.
But, It struck a chord. This is something I’ve pondered a bit, and have discussed with childless friends or those who are ‘on the fence’. There’s a lot of pressure on women to have children, and if they don’t then many view their decision as unusual, at best. These women can feel outcast by society when they are questioned and even ridiculed for their choice to remain childless.
To those women who consciously choose and declare they do not want children, well I say BRAVO to you. Congratulations for decisively knowing what you don’t want. I think many women out there have children, because it’s the “next step” in life/their relationship, it’s expected, they feel they should, they’re unsure, they don’t want to not have children (in case they regret it), it’s unplanned/a surprise etc etc etc. It’s not always a conscious choice, if it were, I think the amount of women having children would be a lot less.
Now here’s where I go off on a tangent about my vagina, and why I appreciate it more since having given birth. The article also proclaimed that some mothers are very jealous of childless women’s intact vaginas. While I agreed with most of the article, I took great exception to this bit.
I love my (intact) vagina more since giving birth, than I did ever before.
In fact, you could say that before, I had an unhealthy relationship with my vagina, or more correctly, my vulva.
Because let’s also be anatomically real here, the vagina, is the vagina – the opening or the passage that your baby makes its way down during birth. The vulva is the external part of the anatomy, the visible part. And that’s the part that women often feel self conscious about.
Birth has changed the way I feel about my vagina, and my vulva for that matter.
If I can be completely frank. I did have a vaginal birth, BUT, it was (unfortunately) assisted with forceps, which meant my vagina was indeed cut. An episiotomy was performed. You can read more about my birth story here.
So technically, you might say my vagina was not in fact, ‘intact’ after birth, and while that’s somewhat true, since my postnatal recovery and development of what I call my ‘vagina consciousness’, my vagina has never been healthier.
Yes, I had to recover from the assault of my perineum being sliced. While this was traumatic, I developed a new found appreciation for the healing capabilities of my vagina (and my entire body for that matter). I became more comfortable with looking at that area of my body, I had to check, to see how it was healing, and also having my partner check for me. And that slice, well it’s like it never happened. It seems vagina’s possess the healing superpowers of a mouth, which we all know is a place that heals pretty fast.
Me and my vagina, well we became more – familiar, intimate. I began to appreciate the appearance of my vulva. I had regular physiotherapy over a number of weeks with a pelvic floor expert to improve the tone that was lost as a consequence of pregnancy and childbirth.
It was during this postnatal recovery period that I appreciated how much I had devalued my vagina (and vulva) and how misguided I was about the importance of pelvic floor exercises or kegels, prebirth. I. Literally. Had. No. Idea. Clueless.
I rarely practised pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy, because I was unaware of the importance of the pelvic floor. Fast forward to now. I do these EVERY DAY. And I will continue to do so for the rest of my life. And even though I am a bit late to the kegel party, trust me, it’s never too late. A dedicated daily practice and you’ll start to notice how much more consciousness you can bring to this part of the body to contract and relax.
Despite having an assisted vaginal birth. I feel my vagina is the most toned it’s ever been, and there’s still a way to go! So I do regard it as ‘intact’.
I understand and know the landscape of my vagina much more now than I ever did prenatally. I have more conscious control over my pelvic area, and lovemaking is even better than it was before childbirth. It’s been a journey of recovery to get to a point where I can say that. And that of course, is ignoring the libido issues that still plague me as a breastfeeding/sleep deprived mother.
But I can honestly say – I do love my vagina more now!