Vaginal Health During Pregnancy & After Childbirth: Dr. Mache Seibel Answers 7 Common Questions From Pregnant Moms by Dr. Machelle (Mache) Seibel
While you're concentrating on your growing baby and belly, you may overlook vaginal health during pregnancy. Moms-to-be should not be embarrassed to talk about vaginal health with their doctors. Here are a few things pregnant moms need to know about vaginal health during their pregnancy and after labor and delivery:
Q. Are pregnant women more prone to yeast infections? Should they be treated the same way?
Yeast in pregnancy is very common. There’s a lot of moisture, a lot of hormones and a change in vaginal pH. Pregnant women can be treated in the same way, but be sure it’s yeast and not something else. So, see your health care provider before going to the store and buying your own remedy.
Q. Why does vaginal discharge increase during pregnancy? When should a mom-to-be worry?
There is a lot more mucus developed in the cervix during pregnancy and a lot more moisture comes with that. Not all discharges are abnormal. If you see blood, foul smell or anything that seems “not normal” for you, see your health care provider.
Q. Are there any other issues pregnant women should know about?
One of the reasons a vaginal discharge deserves a talk with your doctor is because one of the common ones, bacterial vaginosis, can cause preterm labor. It can also increase the risk of HIV if exposed.
Q. What's the best way to care for tearing or an episiotomy after childbirth?
It depends on the size and location of the tear. In general, warm sitz baths are a wonderful and soothing way to help the tissues heal.
Q. Is there anything a pregnant mom can do to help avoid tearing of the vaginal tissues?
If a woman has a healthy vagina, having a baby usually works out fine, if the head comes out gradually and doesn’t get pushed out rapidly and out of control. The use of forceps can increase the risk of tears because they take up more room and don’t mold or yield to the tissues. If it’s a first baby, the tissues haven’t stretched before and are a bit more susceptible to tears.
Q. What's the best way to care for your vaginal area after childbirth if you didn't tear or have an episiotomy?
Give yourself time to heal. Warm sitz baths are comforting. Use sterile water, if possible. You can buy that at the drugstore. Wear a pad for the first few days to keep it dry and absorb the blood, and give it time. Tylenol and acetaminophen are helpful for discomfort. Tears usually feel better in five to 10 days like any cut.
Q. What if you have an episiotomy?
An episiotomy may take a bit longer. Some women fear an episiotomy, and they can be uncomfortable, but by opening up the area when the head of the baby is large for the size of the pelvis, it makes the cut even rather than a jagged tear and may heal better and easier. It can also prevent tearing the tissues next to or into the rectum. Talk with your doctor about his or her thoughts on episiotomy.
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