Sadly pregnancy ain't all bout 'that glow'.... and that thick, shiny hair.
You've likely heard about the possible swollen ankles, feet and fingers. Or the itchy skin of your growing baby bump. But, we don't often hear about lady bits changing!
Things can often get heavy, swollen, lumpy, juicy and darn itchy down there!
Um, why is my labia getting bigger?
This is often due to a combo of more blood being on board and the ever growing weight of your uterus. As this puts extra pressure on the blood vessels in your pelvis.
This is often worse if you're on your feet for most of the day, particularly in the later parts of the 3rd trimester.
Your labia may feel (and look) a lot bigger than normal!
What the heck is THAT?
If you've discovered bumpy, vein like additions to your lady garden, it's likely to be vulvar varicosities. It's estimated 18-22% of pregnant woman will get these.
These are varicose veins specific to the vulva region. They're usually found of the labia major and minor (the lips and skin folds of the vulva). If you're curious, take a peak via a mirror. You'll likely see twisted looking veins, blue or purple in colour bulging out from your skin. They are soft to touch. Vulva varicosities develop when valves let your blood pool in one spot or flow backward. They are just like those that may appear in your legs, just in your nether regions. The increase in blood volume, plus hormonal changes are at play here. As the massive increase in oestrogen and progesterone increase the fragility and relaxation of the blood vessels walls. They can become painful and give that unwanted feeling of pressure. For the unlucky few they can cause itchiness, pain with sex and discomfort with walking. They are not typically of concern. There's a slight chance they may rupture and bleed a little during a vaginal birth but your caregivers will look out for this. If you're concerned and/or they seem to be getting bigger, check in with your care provider. Otherwise try:
Propping your hips up under pillow when you lie down
They usually pack up shop a few months after the birth. See ya! Pregnancy hormones also increase vaginal discharge which may irritate your vulva, making things feel like a hot mess. And not in a good way. Itch-A-Rama Also during pregnancy the pH of the vagina changes. These changes can lead to an overgrowth of the naturally occurring vaginal flora. This may result in bacterial vaginosis. More commonly though it's often a relative of the Candida family that takes the reins. Candida's 'vaginal flora domination' can result in what's generically known as a yeast infection, or thrush. This is also more likely to happen if your gut microbiome is also imbalanced or your sugar intake is high. These may need to be addressed for better treatment outcomes. The result is often itchiness and general fanny unhappiness. You may even want to wee more (than pregnancy usual) and experience an unusual discharge with a mild yeasty-like odour. Try:
Taking a high quality pregnancy probiotic
Check your diet for high sugar triggers
Include probiotic foods in diet (e.g. sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, yoghurt)
Go easy on the soap action
Don't even think about douching
Go undie-free when you can (definitely whilst sleeping) - air flow to the vaginal area is underrated.
A few squirts of Happy Mama - Soothing Pregnancy Spray (see below)
If it's really bothering you and you're not responding to any home help, get it checked out. Introducing fermented coconut Hasn't the humble coconut had a wonderful resurgence in our lives over recent years? Once frowned upon due to it's saturated fat content, it's now revered for so many health benefits. A less known, but super fascinating one is an antimicrobial peptide created from fermenting coconut (Cocos nucifera) with lactic acid bacteria, Lactobacillus. You may have read how coconut oil has been traditionally used to treat skin disorders, yeast infections, ringworm, even athlete’s foot. This is because about 50% of the total fatty acid content of coconut oil are medium chain triglycerides (MCT’s). These MCTs exhibit natural antifungal activity. MCT’s, such as lauric acid work by disrupting the cellular structures of fungus and destroying them before they can wreak havoc. Ready to take a short, deep dive into this antimicrobial peptide? Let's go! Like many members of the lactic acid bacteria family, Lactobacillus is capable of restricting the growth of other microorganisms by acidifying its environment. However, Lactobacillus also produces novel antimicrobial peptides known as bacteriocins that are capable of providing effective protection against bacteria. Using modern fermentation and bioprocessing technology, within the fermentation process of coconut by Lactobacillus, lipopeptides are catabolised by the MCT’s present in coconut flesh. Lysozyme is added to the ferment filtrate during the manufacturing process to facilitate controlled cell lysis and ensure the release of the antimicrobial peptides for maximised activity. These natural phytocompounds and lipopeptides from coconut are then harnessed to produce a novel antifungal material known as Lactobacillus/Coconut Fruit Ferment Filtrate.
Putting this ingredient into the fanny spray Happy Mama was a no-brainer!
Personally, I had my third trimesters over summer months. I was also living in a climate that did summer humidity really well and most days were 40+ (... you get the picture). If only I'd already created this spray back then!
What is it?
A Naturopath (me) formulated and handmade blend
Contains plant and fruit extracts, plus therapeutic essentials oils
Soothing and hydrating to those tender, irritated lady bits
Contains anti-fungal properties help to calm the itchy farm
Suitable for irritated, dry, swollen, itchy and/or unhappy lady bits
An atomiser spray that works upside down!
Suitable from 2nd trimester of pregnancy onwards
What's in it?
Aloe Vera leaf juice* (Aloe Barbadensis) Certified Organic
It's super soothing with it's demulcent properties. It's also rich in Vitamin C and carotene; the precursor to Vitamin A. It has great moisturising power due to its polysaccharides so is perfect for irritated and inflamed tissue.
Cucumber fruit extract (Cucumis Sativus)
Another cooling and healing plant that also contains Vitamins A and C. It holds an impressive bioactive photochemistry that soothes and cleanses.
Lactobacillus/Coconut Fruit Ferment Filtrate (Cocos Nucifera)
You've just learnt about this super cool antimicrobial and antifungal peptide above.
A natural ingredient derived through a fermented process of sugars and starches. It's part of our skin's 'natural moisturising factor' (NMF). It helps reduce inflammation and irritation.
Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) and Mandarin (Citrus reticulata) Essential Oils
Included for their combined anti-inflammatory, anti fungal, antimicrobial and skin restorative properties.
To use: Spray directly on area, 3-5 x day or until symptoms are relieved. Great for after toilet use (as loo paper can irritate) and also after any intimacy action. You can even refrigerate it for added cooling effect.
Of course, if you're concerned about anything to do with your lady bits whilst pregnant check in with your care provider.
Rest assured, things tend to return to normal (or their new normal) at some point in your postpartum.
This post originally appeared on bodywisebirthwisestore.com.au and it has been published here with permission.