But first, let’s have a brief anatomy discussion. Having a baby changes everything, including your pelvic floor. The pelvic
floor consists of the sling of muscles, tissue and nerves that supports our
pelvic organs. The hormonal shifts of pregnancy, combined with the weight of a
fetus crouching and kicking at our lady parts, can stretch and weaken these
muscles. Even women who’ve delivered via C-section can be affected. Vaginal
birth increases the risk of pelvic floor damage—particularly with a large baby
or a prolonged pushing stage.
A bad head cold with a cough can set me back five to six pairs of underwear per day.
The effects of a weakened pelvic floor can range from the
annoying—like the frequent need to pee—to the embarrassing and smelly, like urinary
and fecal leakage, also called incontinence. (Fun fact: Even a few drops of pee
or poo leakage are considered incontinence.) Extreme cases can show up as
prolapse, which as far as I can tell means body parts are falling out of your vagina and/or anus.
After birthing two kids, one of whom took FOUR HOURS of
pushing to eject, my pelvic floor went from being a taut little Kegel hammock
to a slack mess. I became afraid to go to playgrounds without bathrooms. Once
when I was visiting my parents with my kids, my preschooler announced, “I’m
going to poop all over Papa.” This made me laugh so hard that I peed myself and
had to go home wearing my mom’s panties.
Walk of shame, indeed.
At first I thought I was unique, with my poor broken vagina.
But after talking with some friends, it became clear that many of us are
suffering. Here are what some of my friends had to say about their postpartum
“I keep an extra pair of panties in my glove box, just in
“A bad head cold with a cough can set me back five to six pairs of underwear
“I used to sit on my heel for a cheap thrill. Now I do
it to hold the pee in when I sneeze in my office.”
“I had zero issues after my first vaginal birth. Fast-forward three years to my 9-pound, med-free vaginal birth and my woo muscles
“I had two C-sections and still have leakage. I dread
allergy season. I had no idea. I wish the doctors and nurses would have been
more adamant about doing the (Kegel) exercises.”
“A friend and I were recently talking about how we
position our bodies when laughing or coughing. We take a similar approach; if
standing, we try to discreetly press our knees together and bend at the waist.”