Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The postpartum vagina: a brief owner's manual

So, one of the things that I either overlooked or was not mentioned in any of those prepare-you-for-birth books was the care and feeding of your postpartum vagina.

I'm kidding about the feeding.

Also, you may have guessed from the title, but if not, I should mention that this post contains a lot of the vagina word. And maybe a bunch of details.

In case it makes you twitchy. You've been warned.

It turns out that you bleed for weeks after giving birth. As I understand it, as your uterus contracts, it gradually squeezes all the post-pregnancy stuff out.

And so you need to wear these gigantor maxi pads. These of course are held in place by underwear.

Hospital underwear. Which is not like any underwear you've seen before.

They're a very soft, these hospital undies. They're made of white, fishnet-y mesh, trimmed in the same green stripes as many dishtowels. In fact, they look like something you'd use in the kitchen.

They are disposable. They are shaped like boy shorts. They are fairly hideous.

Actually, like many things, once you get used to them, you might start to think they have a certain charm.

I am in the extreme minority in this opinion.

Mainly, they are remarkably comfortable, even with a C-section scar. I might wear them for the rest of my life.

So when they get you up to pee for the first time, they introduce you to these underwear. You have a large stash of them in a bag on your bathroom door. Along with aforementioned enormous pads.

They also give you a squirt bottle.

On a side bar, the nurse who conducted the departure class from the hospital was Filipina, with strongly accented English. And pronounced it "squarch bottle" - which is now how I think of it.

So the squarch bottle.

You fill it up with warm water before using the toilet. So that you can squarch your vagina clean when you're done.

And every time you bleed, you're supposed to change the pad. As you may assume, you go through a tremendous number of pads.

And you spend a lot of time getting tap water hot, filling the bottle, and squarching your vagina.

Although, truth be told, it's kind of like a bidet - which is something I never actually got the hang of overseas, but it really is cleansing. I kind of like the whole idea.

It's not particularly practical for when you're out of the house. And if you wanted to squarch yourself off regularly, you'd have to carry a big enough purse for the bottle. And then I suppose a Ziploc bag to carry it in. And a cloth to wipe it off...

You see what I mean?

Plus the idea of filling it up in public bathrooms is kind of icky.

And then, at work, you know there would be a whole lot of "what the fuck?" with all the squarching noise coming from your stall.

I'd have to be all, "Don't mind me! I'm just squarching my vagina!"

Yes, somebody is all crashed out and mama got some sleep last night. Hi!


  1. Hi! Oh, it's lovely to have you here, squarching and all!

    Ya know, I wonder if this is one of those things that sucks up the time of a newborn's mom. I mean, you hear about the feedings, and the swaddling, and the attempts at napping... But nobody tells you about the squarching.

    At least, not nearly so amusingly or eloquently.

  2. Hands down funniest post to date. Although, I cant say that I'm envious of your squarching.

  3. I'm sure I'm in the extreme minority by thanking you for this post. Since I have no idea what to expect with the whole birth thing, this candidness is wonderful. So thanks.

  4. Ha! You made me laugh out loud! I'm very glad to have you back even if I'm getting more and more put off by the idea of birthin'

  5. i've so been looking forward to these! i knew you'd give us the unfiltered truth about all those things they don't mention about having babies come out of you! i can't wait to hear more.

    and "squarching" is possibly the funniest thing i've heard all month!!

  6. Hear hear notsojenny! Me too!

  7. Dude - those mesh undies? I actually brought home a huge stash of those from the hospital and I wore them for almost two weeks after I came home. I tried to wear normal underwear but OMG - with a c-section scar it really is not awesome or comfortable or practical. I actually have 1 pair left in my bathroom closet...just in case, I suppose.

    And the squarch bottle (genius, I tell you, genius)? I hated that thing with a passion. I think I only kept up with it for a week or so after I came home. One good thing about the c-section? The bleeding is much less than if you'd had a normal birth because they actually took all the stuff out of you while they were in there so you don't have to worry about it as much.

  8. wow, i had no idea that there would be squarching even with a c-section!

    but as for what to do when leaving the house, i don't know what to tell you - i don't think i even left my room for like 3 months after.

  9. "squarch yourself off"

    That sounds so very, very porny.

  10. OK, I assume you're not going back to work, like say, TODAY, so you won't have to worry about the squarching once you do. In fact, I'm surprised that C-section mommies actually have to do this. I had no clue.

    I stopped wearing the undies once the, um, FLOW, was manageable enough that I didn't think I was going to ruin all my underwear. And again, why do you have to wear a pad? No vajayjay trauma, I would think tampons would be OK.

    See, even those of us who've HAD babies don't know a damn thing about most of this.

    Glad you got some sleep!

  11. I totally see "squarch" getting added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary in a year or two.

    Glad you got some sleep and are able to post! You make my day!

  12. Lisa I saw the title and had to check the calendar - is it (TMI)Thursday? So, that was sad. It is only Tuesday.

    Not TMI at all, this post was enlightening. I have sisters and friends with children but have never heard of the undies or cleansing.

    So glad you got some sleep!

  13. Maybe you could write a new "squarching" chapter for the next edition of What to Expect When You are Expecting!

  14. Oh, dear. I love this so much. I really thought I'd get out of the bottle with a c-section....but, better to know now than after my hormones crash.

    Sounds like you're doing great - little boy is lucky to have you.

  15. Ah, yes, there you are:

    "Don't mind me! I'm just squarching my vagina!"

    So happy to read this post with all it's lovely Lisa-ness.

  16. Somewhere, out there in cyberspace, the five squarch fetishists in existence are rejoicing in your detailed account of the process, and are only wishing that this post had been a photo essay or, at least, one with crude stick figure drawings.

  17. Sometimes a girl just has to squarch! I remember those days..I might even still have my squarch bottle somewhere!

  18. I had a baby over winter break when I was in college, and when people used to ask me what I did over break I used to say "I lactated, you?" The reactions were always great :)

  19. I have a mighty hilarious c-section recovery story to share with you...but it will have to wait until I get more time. I'll be back!

  20. LOVED the squarch bottle. Still use mine (tmi?). Squarching cold water in the summer = delightful.

  21. okay but have you even worn the hospital diaper? those fuckers are awe-some. so comfy and if you don't want to get up to pee, you don't have to!

  22. Laughed so hard. Oh, how I remember. Now tell them about the first poo. Yours not the baby's. Please.

  23. OMG! I almost did piss myself laughing at this blog Lisa. Well let me tell you here in New Zealand you dont get a squarch bottle or even sexy mesh undies, you get given a couple of maxipads you could damn near go surfing on. Then get told to buy some more yourself. Undies?? well your Mum brings in some huge big gramma style undies for you. I nicknamed my maxi's my surfboard and another girl in the hospital with me called hers her packed lunch because she reckoned it was like having a packed lunch between your legs.
    Welcome back by the way I am looking for to more of your candid views on motherhood, babies and bodyparts.

  24. Squarch bottles are great! Hold on to yours even when you're done with all the post-partum bleeding business -- when Jordan comes down with a bad case of diaper rash, it'll come in handy to wash him off with warm soapy water after he poops!

  25. Hilarious! I am the only one on our side of the office and was laughing out loud to this. I miss your humor in here! it's just not the same. can't wait to see you and jordan and hear more squarching stories. And don't worry, we won't point fingers in the ladies room :)

  26. squarch. awesome.
    glad you're hanging in there.
    i love that someone uses their squarch bottle on a hot summmer day.

  27. oH lisa...that was hilarious. You are hilarious and I'm so glad to be laughing along with you again. =-) Can't wait to see more pictures of the boy!!

  28. OK, I can not stop laughing! i have tears running down my face... this is all the stuff I was shocked about w/ my first baby- my sisters didn't even tell me about the attractive underwear and the gigantic pads!!! Glad you got some sleep and are doing well!

  29. I'm nearly crying from laughing from the sqarching! You are SO right. This is the part of pregnancy NO ONE tells you about!

    I remember I also got a UTI during my sqarching that would not go away. I had it for at least a month. So between the sqarching, the giant pads, the bleeding, etc. I also had fire in my pee. Real nice. :)

  30. Ah yes, the mesh undies. I was so freaked out by them when I first saw them, but you are absolutely right - normal undies are so painful after a c-section. Those mesh ones are so great.

    And I totally have continued using the squarch bottle for rinsing my now-six-months-old baby during his baths. :)


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