“Am I going to poop during labour?” is one of the most common – and uncomfortable! – questions expecting moms ask their gynaes. Other most-asked embarrassing birth questions include, “will everyone see my vagina when I give birth?”, “Should I have a bikini wax before I give birth?” and “How soon after giving birth can I start have sex again?”
We asked sexual health expert Dr Jireh Serfontein (who’s not afraid to answer anything), all your awkward birth question. Take note… here they are!
Q. Can I breastfeed if I’ve had a boob augmentation or reduction, or pierced my nipples?
With breast reduction surgery some of the glandular tissue that produces the milk is removed. The milk ducts and nerves are also cut, which can potentially influence the let-down reflex. Fortunately, there are newer techniques that can protect the breast tissue that is needed to successfully breastfeed. Breast milk is produced on a supply-versus-demand basis. The more stimulation there is, the more milk will be produced. The key then is to get off to a good start by feeding on demand.
While any form of breast surgery can cause damage to the nerves or ducts, most women with implants can breastfeed. The implants are mostly inserted behind the pectoralis muscle, which means that the breast tissue is not damaged.
Nipple piercings don’t usually cause any complications with breastfeeding. Piercings in the nipple will not affect your ability to produce milk. However, it’s advisable to remove any nipple rings or jewellery while breastfeeding because they pose a choking risk, and can hurt your baby’s mouth.
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Q. Must I remove my belly ring (and/or piercing down there) during pregnancy?
You don’t necessarily have to remove a belly ring during pregnancy. If you got the piercing before the pregnancy and it has healed then there is no medical reason to remove it. But as the tummy grows and the skin gets tighter, it might become increasingly uncomfortable and even painful. The same applies to clitoral piercings. The piercing itself will not complicate the pregnancy, but the piercing itself can start to feel uncomfortable because your genitals can become swollen and sensitive due to increased blood flow to the area around your pelvis.
Q. Will I poop while in labour, and what will happen if I do?
Unfortunately, the chance of pooping during labour is high. The muscles you use to push your baby out are the exact same ones you use to poop. This is nothing to be ashamed about and the nurse will just clean it up.
Q. After a vaginal delivery, will sex be okay again, or will I be “loose” down there?
A woman’s body is amazing. It’s designed to adapt during pregnancy, making a normal vaginal birth possible. During the delivery process, the muscles and ligaments of your vagina and pelvic floor will soften and stretch to accommodate your baby.
Although you may feel a little loose or “floppy” down there after giving birth, there’s no real cause for concern. Your vagina is naturally elastic, so it will gradually return to its normal state – maybe not exactly as toned as it was pre-baby, but pretty close. You can do your bit to help things along by regularly doing Kegel exercises once your doctor has given you the nod.
Q. Should I have a bikini/Hollywood wax before I give birth?
Not at all. Your midwife or gynae doesn’t care if you are groomed or not. It’s a personal choice.
Q. Will my baby feel it when I have sex while pregnant?
No. Your baby is protected inside the amniotic sac and is surrounded by the amniotic fluid. Your partner’s penis can’t go beyond the vagina, meaning that your baby will not know what is going on. Sex during pregnancy is perfectly safe unless otherwise indicated by your doctor.
Q. My libido is quite high while pregnant. Is this normal? Can I have more sex while pregnant?
Pregnancy changes your body in many ways, one of which includes major fluctuations in your sex drive. It is perfectly normal to have a higher sex drive while pregnant – this often occurs in the second trimester. During this time your body has gotten used to the influx of hormones, which results in an increase in blood flow to your breasts, sexual organs and your external genitals. It is safe to have sex while pregnant, and if your libido is heightened, you might as well enjoy the ride.
Q. Can I still use sex toys when pregnant?
Sex toys like vibrators and dildos are safe to use while pregnant. When you think about it, they are just mechanical versions of the real thing. Just remember to keep your toys clean. Always wash your toys after use to decrease the risk of infections.
Q. I’m worried about everyone seeing my vajayjay in the delivery room… how do I feel less awkward about this?
It’s normal to worry about what will be seen in the delivery room. Remember that the doctors and nurses look at vaginas every day. You won’t feel like you are on display during the delivery process – you will be so distracted by what is going on that your exposed vajayjay will be the last thing on your mind.
Q. Is it true that you need to hold your perineum when you go to the toilet after giving birth?
Not as a rule, no. After you give birth, your perineum (the area between your vaginal opening and your anus) can feel sore and tender for a couple of weeks. This is especially true if you had stitches. Even without stitches, your perineum may be swollen and sore. A lot of women fear that bowel movements after delivery will be painful. While you bear down to have a bowel movement, push up against your perineum in front of the anus with the toilet paper. This will support the area that hurts, as well as any stitches.
Q. How soon after I’ve given birth can I start having sex again?
Regardless of the type of delivery, your body will need some time to heal. As a rule, doctors advise abstaining from sex for four to six weeks. It can take up to six weeks for the uterus to return to its normal size, for the cervix to close, for bruising to settle and for any perineal tears or episiotomies to heal. However, everyone is different, and everyone has different childbirth experiences. Listen to your body. The first sexual encounter after delivery might be uncomfortable owing to vaginal dryness caused by hormonal changes. Take it slow, use lubricant and if the discomfort persists, you should talk to your doctor.