Throughout pregnancy women have lots to think about and navigate. From where to give birth to how your baby will be fed, there is a huge amount to think about and decide upon. One of the most common worries amongst those due to have a baby is the possibility of tearing during birth and how your body will recover. An understandable concern given that the vagina is one of our most sensitive areas and central to not only a health and happy sex life but to overall wellbeing in the future.
Worry not ladies. We have been doing this for millions of years and your body has capabilities beyond your wildest dreams. Little do most of us know that along with preparing your breasts for feeding your new arrival, your body is also busily getting your nether regions ready for what lies ahead.
From very early in pregnancy there are changes happening. Starting with what is known as Chadwick’s sign which presents with your vagina taking on a slightly blue tinge. This is caused by the increase of blood flow and is nothing to worry about and in actual fact, unless you are actively looking for it you wouldn’t even know it was happening. However, if you are keen to find out about your pregnancy this is one of the earliest signs - appearing from around 4 weeks.
Another unpleasant, but not uncommon change in pregnancy may be the appearance of varicose veins. Caused, again by the increase in blood volume and pressure from above of your growing uterus. Nearly 20% of women will experience this. For many these are not uncomfortable but if you are feeling them you could try a cool compress and / or compression underwear and avoid standing for too long. Make sure you keep really well hydrated too as that always helps.
It is not uncommon to experience a significant increase in discharge, especially soon after conception and towards the end of pregnancy. This is down to all the hormonal changes taking place and works to keep your cervix protected from infection. Assuming that the discharge is of a thin and milky consistency and doesn’t smell this is perfectly normal. Should the discharge change and become offensive in smell or of yellowy appearance you should get this checked by your GP or midwife to rule out infection. This increase in discharge can cause you to experience itching which, again is normal but if it is making things sore get the once over.
These are just some of the changes that can occur however, some women sadly face more anxious concerns if they suffer from a condition called Vaginismus. This presents as a fear of any type of vaginal penetration and can be really quite debilitating and heighten anxiety during pregnancy. For many women who have battled, just to be able to have intercourse, the thought of delivering their much loved and anticipated baby vaginally, can be one that poses some very difficult emotions to navigate.
Whilst there is currently no cure for Vaginismus there are treatments and therapies available that can help. Speaking with your midwife to explain your situation can pave the way for more continuity of care during labour and more time taken during examinations to lessen anxiety.
We are super excited to be hosting an interview with our Resident Midwife Louise Broadbridge AKA The Honest Midwife and Specialist Women's Physiotherapist Michelle Norton-Hughes from Fly Mama, to discuss All Things Vagina on 16th September at 11am. Join us on our Instagram page and we will answer all your related questions.