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During a vaginal delivery, the vagina has to take the maximum toll. Just imagine your baby comes out through the small opening which otherwise seems real narrow. But nature has devised our body in such a way that it can make the most unimaginable things possible. The stretching of the vaginal opening to bring the baby out from the womb is one such miracle. Click next to know happens to the vagina during labour.
The vagina is a long and slender tube that stretches from the vaginal opening (the part that is visible to us) to the cervix. As a woman progresses into labour the cervix starts to dilate or open. During labour the cervix is almost 10 cm dilated. This is when the doctors ask the mother to push the baby out. The vagina also dilates with the cervix to help the baby have a smooth transition through the birth canal.
Estrogen increases the blood flow in the vaginal area so that it is able to stretch to its maximum during childbirth.
The hormone relaxin secreted during this time (in fact throughout the pregnancy) helps the body to relax and loosens the joints and ligaments in the pelvis area helping in expanding and stretching of the vagina and preparing it for the birth.
How much your vagina will stretch depends on your genes, size of the baby, number of deliveries, pelvic muscle strength, etc.
As the baby’s head enters the birth canal it pushes on the vaginal wall and tears the perineum. In most cases, the perineum tears during the vaginal delivery to make space for the baby’s entry. If it doesn’t tear on its own the doctor has to make a cut which is sewn after the childbirth (episiotomy).
Till the baby comes out of the birth canal entirely, the vagina remains stretched to its maximum. Once the baby comes out the vagina also helps in expelling the placenta out of the body. Once the delivery is over the vagina relaxes and one might feel some burning or soreness down there, which settles with time.
It takes the vagina some time to heal after childbirth. Around three to six weeks is needed for the vagina to get relief from the soreness, burning sensation and the discomfort faced during childbirth.