Revealed: the most common post-baby worries we're not talking about
Here at Elvie, we spend a lot of time speaking to women about a whole laundry list of bodily challenges that they face in every aspect of their daily lives, including bladder control issues and fear of trampolines. We hear their worries, insecurities and frustrations. There’s not much that surprises us these days, and yet...
Women still don’t talk about vaginas and intimate health
As if there wasn’t already enough to navigate as a new mum, our research revealed that almost half of mums admit that they have never talked to their friends about how giving birth has affected their sex life or changed their vagina. This makes it a bigger taboo than their mental health, new body hair and insecurities about their weight.
Mum friends are a sounding board for the challenges and struggles that come with the typical rollercoaster of being a mother for the first time. They ‘get it’. But intimate health and changes to our vaginas is one step too far for most apparently.
Reality check: every mother’s vagina changes after childbirth and your pelvic floor health will be affected even if you had a C-section due to the additional weight and altered centre of gravity during pregnancy. It happens to everyone who has carried a baby in their belly and none of us are talking about it.
Why breaking the taboo matters
Despite being a common concern, the stigma of intimate health issues is leaving women unprepared for changes to their bodies after having a baby:
- A third of the women we surveyed said that they wish someone had told them that their vagina would never look the same again
- 31% reported being afraid that they would be left with a “loose vagina” and 30% were afraid of postpartum incontinence.
Turns out, we’re more worried about our vaginas than saggy boobs. But this is not just about vanity. Pelvic floor weakness is a serious concern for new mothers, affecting up to 80% of women during pregnancy or following childbirth. It’s important that women seek appropriate help as soon as possible where necessary but because very few people talk about intimate health issues they become stigmatized and women are currently waiting an average of five years before seeking medical advice from a health professional. This is crazy when most pelvic floor issues are largely avoidable or can be treated relatively easily.
Physical changes were not the only thing the new mums we surveyed felt unprepared for - 48% wish they had been warned how lonely motherhood could be. Surely if we were talking more candidly to our friends about the full experience of motherhood wouldn’t we feel more supported and less lonely?
Happy mum, happy baby
Our bodies go through so much change when we have a baby but all too often, we just think about the baby’s welfare and not our own. There’s nothing selfish about investing in your own well being, whether that’s supporting your physical recovery with rest and pelvic floor rehabilitation or maintaining your mental health by forming friendships with women that you can discuss all of the ups and downs of becoming a mum for the first time.
Our research with Mush has shown that being a new mum can be overwhelming; in fact, 58% of the new mums that we asked said that overwhelm was the overriding emotion after birth. Not having a network of women facing the same challenges can be tough. Mush helps new mums find like-minded friends to talk about all their worries with, making the transition to motherhood that bit easier. You’re one swipe away from a new best mum mate. (And it’s much more rewarding than the time you may or may not admit to having spent on Tinder.)
Physical recovery from pregnancy and childbirth is not a quick fix. New mums need more information and support to help their bodies recover and to avoid issues like bladder control and prolapse. By familiarizing yourself with your body as early as possible (we can help with that) and chatting to your friends about your bodies without any shame and shyness we can close this education gap and help mums feel more confident about their post-baby bodies.