What Motherhood Does to Your Body
A woman’s body undergoes many physical changes during and after pregnancy. While most of these changes (such as stretch marks) alter a woman’s appearance, others, such as stress urinary incontinence and vaginal stretching can dramatically impact a woman’s lifestyle. In his Los Angeles-area practice, Dr. David Ghozland regularly meets with and treats women who have concerns about bodily changes after childbirth.
The most common concerns that Dr. Ghozland addresses include:
Vaginal Stretching: During childbirth, the skin between the vagina and the anus may tear. Sometimes, an episiotomy is needed to facilitate the birthing process. The end result is that the vagina will feel much looser than it did before pregnancy. For some women, this can result in reduced sensation during intercourse. Pelvic floor exercises can help to some degree, but Dr. Ghozland says new minimally invasive vaginal tightening surgical procedures are now available to dramatically restore the pre-birth tightness of the vaginal walls.
Vaginal Dryness: Vaginal dryness after delivery is typically linked to lower levels of estrogen in the body. This uncomfortable side effect is usually temporary and can be alleviated with over the counter or prescription lubricants.
Stretch Marks: Stretch marks are like the battle scars of motherhood. They occur when collagen and elastin in the skin stretches to the point of no return. While there are creams out there you can purchase that will minimize the appearance of stretch marks, Dr. Ghozland says advanced laser technology is the best method for removing the unsightly appearance of stretch marks.
Breast Changes: The size and shape of your breasts may change dramatically during and after pregnancy, especially if you breast feed. Some women end up with a larger cup size, others lose one or two cup sizes, and sagging is a common concerns. Cosmetic surgery procedures such as “mommy makeovers” can help you regain your pre-baby body confidence.
Bladder control: A weak bladder occurs when the muscles in the pelvic floor are damaged during pregnancy and childbirth. Many women find themselves urinating more frequently after the baby is born. A more serious condition called stress urinary incontinence (SUI) can cause sudden loss of urine from simply laughing or sneezing. If this condition occurs, it’s a good idea to discuss treatment options with your OB/GYN.
The changes many women experience following childbirth are both expected and normal, and can be celebrated as a rite of passage into motherhood. Dr. Ghozland emphasizes that if certain changes such as vaginal stretching and SUI have a negative impact on a woman’s self confidence and quality of life, numerous options exists to correct the problems so that she feel like herself again.