Excerpt from Asking for a Pregnant Friend: 101 Answers to Questions Women Are Too Embarrassed to Ask about Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Motherhood
I’ll not mince words (hee-hee) — most vaginas look pretty beat up after vaginal childbirth. With all the stretching and potential tearing, the vagina won’t be easy on the eyes for a while. But the good news is, it won’t stay that way. Tears heal, and stretched skin (slowly) bounces back. The one thing that might be permanent is a darkening of your vulva, as it could experience a shift in pigmentation. So while your petunia will never look exactly like it did pre-childbirth, it will go back to a semblance of its former self after six to twelve months.
Something else to expect from the first few days of life after birth is that you will have heavy discharge. There will be lots of blood, mucus, and tissue coming out of you, requiring you to don a diaper-like pad. While the load will likely lessen within a week, you’ll probably need pads for four to six weeks.
What to do
If you’re squeamish, or if you experience more pain when focusing on a sore area of your body, don’t stick a mirror down there for a while. However, if you want to marvel at everything your courageous vagina went through, take a look — it’s pretty fascinating. And don’t be embarrassed by its appearance. The two of you went through a lot, and you’re allowed time to heal. Tummies are squishy, stretch marks are prominent, and vaginas aren’t pretty in that fourth trimester — and that’s okay. Be patient with your body, and grateful it helped you grow and birth new life.
Regarding how you can minimize tearing and make your perineum more elastic, check out the “What to do” section from question 63.”