In the weeks and months after giving birth, new mothers are full of love, fear, fatigue, and, well, milk. Your body feels as though it belongs to someone else, and your vagina, well, that’s just had a whole baby squeezed through it. And if you had a cesarian section, you didn’t get off scot-free — your pelvic floor still bore the weight of your baby throughout pregnancy.
But the chances are that unless you live in France, where postnatal care covers 10 to 20 sessions of la rééducation périnéale (pelvic floor retraining), you ignore it; ignore the fact that a little pee escapes when you laugh, or sneeze, or cough, or happen to jump on a trampoline in your friend’s garden. You ignore the fact that your vagina feels completely transformed, and you just carry on, too busy to give it much thought. Maybe you’re avoiding sex with your partner, or maybe you decide to “get it out of the way” so it’s one tick off your list of things to do. No wonder, then, that the idea of pleasuring yourself — all by yourself — with a vibrator sounds like an entirely preposterous one. If you’re barely having sex with your partner, you’re hardly going to prioritize having sex with yourself — right? Wrong. Here’s why you should consider buying yourself a sex toy as a “push present,” from you to you:
It helps your vagina relax
Yes, your vagina needs to relax as much as you do.
Ana-María De la Torre Pascual, a physiotherapist specializing in women’s health and the pelvic floor, at physical therapy and yoga center Espacio Kenko in Madrid, tells Yahoo Lifestyle: “It’s normal that each woman after giving birth has tears, stitches, or simply muscle that has been under pressure.” The vagina is, after all, a muscle, just like any other, and it takes the brunt of everyday physical strain, whether it’s coughing, sneezing, abdominal exercise, or carrying a baby to full-term. “This all contributes to tension,” she says, “and tension causes pain.”
Pain during sexual intercourse — or dyspareunia as it’s called in the medical world — is one of several symptoms new moms can suffer, yet ignore. Former nurse and co-founder of luxury sex toy retailer Jo Divine, Samantha Evans, tells Yahoo Lifestyle that a vibrator can help with the pain, “by improving the tone and elasticity of vaginal walls and improving sexual sensation. Sex toys can also keep the vaginal tissue flexible, preventing it from becoming too tight and also promoting blood flow to the area to speed up healing.”
In a nutshell, a vibrator can help your vagina breathe a little, helping you to breathe a little too.
It makes your vagina young again
You’ve heard of vaginal rejuvenation treatment or surgery. Well, get yourself a vibrator and get the same effect without, well, surgery. Along with strengthening the vaginal walls, a vibrator promotes lubrication to the area, which will have been off-balance since pregnancy due to decreased estrogen levels, and will remain lower if you breastfeed. Vaginal dryness can cause small tears and cuts within the vagina, increasing your risk of infection, and further dampening libido. By promoting lubrication to the area, your vagina is likely to feel healthier, happier, and more partial to romance.
It helps you get to know the new you
You have just undergone an all-encompassing transformation, and that includes your vagina. Kimberly Johnson, author of The Fourth Trimester: A Postpartum Guide to Healing Your Body, Balancing Your Emotions & Restoring Your Vitality, and founder of Magamama, a hub whose aim is to empower new moms naturally, firmly believes in the energy that is released after a woman gives birth and says that “for many, the window into our womanhood and sexuality is birth.” So, give yourself a chance to explore your (new) self.
De la Torre Pascual of Espacio Kenko agrees, saying that it is paramount that we “know ourselves.” You have to work the pelvic floor muscle postpartum, and before pregnancy too, she says. “You have to know what you like, what you don’t like, experiment with yourself. There’s no need to be embarrassed when it comes to knowing yourself and touching yourself.” After all, how can you tell your partner what you want, if you don’t know? That’s why De la Torre Pascual recommends using a vibrator alone for a minimum of two weeks, before using it with a partner, or having sex with your partner. “You’ll do much better work and be able to explore,” she says, if you’re alone and without any interruptions. She also recommends manual massage with oil and fingertips to aid the care of scar tissue or tears, as this breaks the fibrotic tissue and helps it to become more elastic, aiding healing.
It helps you find your sexual side (she is in there somewhere!)
Get in touch with your sexual side. It’s so easy to get bogged down in diapers and feedings and so difficult to find the sexy you. Take a moment — maybe after a shower so you can block out some you-time — with a toy and enjoy some clitoral stimulation. The sexy vibes will come knocking at the door.
“Full female arousal takes 35-45 minutes,” says Johnson, adding that “full arousal should be a prerequisite for penetration, a fact that many women don’t know. What we need is what I call the feminization of sex,” she continues. “We need to bring female pleasure to the center of the equation, because female pleasure takes longer.”
It makes you happy
Having an orgasm releases the happy hormones, endorphins. So through reaching orgasm, not only do you decrease the physical tension you may have in your vagina, but also you’re less stressed, less anxious, and happier. That’s what they call a win-win.
What sort of vibrator should you use postpartum? Many women’s health physiotherapists recommend using a slim vibrator, says Evans of Jo Divine. And how soon after giving birth can you give it a go? Treat it like sex and give the body at least six weeks to heal undisturbed. And how often should you use one, postpartum? Three times a week, says De la Torre Pascual, stressing that the key to success is consistency.
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