Provocative Postpartum Care in France Shows They Really Care About the Vagina

pregnant mother earthWhat happens when we become a mom? We have an amazing little being and it's fantastical and scary and full of freak-out moments all relating to the child. But what about us? What about our bodies? Our minds? Our vagina?! We need to learn new things and yet we push our own personal stuff aside because we have a baby to take care of. Which on one hand is what we should do ... but is it really? A happy mom is a good mom. Maybe if we paid a little more attention to ourselves as well -- lady bits and all -- then we would in fact be better moms, better people, better better BETTER!

Before you had kids, what did the word 'mom' mean to you? To some, a mom is a mom is a mom. "Just a mom." A woman who takes care of her kids and that's it. Sure that's a massively wondrous part, but we are MORE than that. French women know what I'm talking about because their health care for postpartum includes a vagina camp to get your who-ha back in shape along with the rest of your body. 


Slate writer Claire Lundberg is an American living in Paris. And she got pregnant shortly after living there (oh la la!). She has some story to tell and not just about the cheese course that came with her hospital meal. Part of her standard postpartum treatment, which happens about two months after baby is born, is 10 to 20 sessions of what the French call la rééducation périnéale. It's like physical therapy for the vagina, and includes retraining your pelvic floor muscles, including the proper way to do Kegels. Yes, it's paid for by the French Social Security and has been in effect since 1985, and is one of the only countries to have this type of program. How amazing this sounds!

Lundberg says the reasons behind it are to help mama get her groove back (oui oui!), and the government wants you healthy so you can have another baby safely (merci!), and they believe no woman should have to suffer incontinence (c'est vrai!). Wow, they really seem to care! Viva la France! The sessions start off with a long interview where the doc asks questions before you are examined. Then you are given specific exercises to do -- and you do them three ways: At home, with the doctor's fingers inside your vagina so she can access your strength, and with a dildo (sort of).

The doctor feels the strength of how well you can contract your muscles inside your vagina. First with fingers, then with an electronic vaginal re-educator called a "sonde." The sonde is like a dildo with electrodes coming out of it that gets inserted into your lotus flower and is hooked up to a computer to measure your muscle strength. Lundberg says you can even play video games using your sonde as a joystick to build muscle tone. She says, "I played a Pole Position game at my last session, and a friend played what I can only call Cooter Pac-Man."

Lundberg says the reeducation of her lady parts really works, yet American and Canadian doctors scoff at the idea, which is why this type of postpartum workout can only be found in the land that gave us Lady Liberty. Ah-ha! More proof the French are tres female-centric!

Truth is, and as Lundberg agrees, there isn't much done for us new moms after we have a baby -- at least nothing in the form of a program recommended with our healthcare. Our prenatal care isn't the best either. In fact, us women far too often aren't cared for properly when it comes to health. And the public doesn't support (or like to talk about) anything natural that happens to a woman when she becomes a mother. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that our breasts and vagina go from being sexual parts to motherly parts. Our boobs become sources of food after our child is delivered through our vagina. Our motherly parts, though, can and should be able to return to sexual parts as well. Women are like superheroes -- we can do it all. But we could use the help in the form of support to get this done in our postpartum period.

And this all comes back to how much we value moms in America, and how much America FEARS THE VAGINA! And BREASTS! And how it's pathetic that too many think 'she's just a mom' and that mentality seeps into everything a moms does. Even our heath, even our care for the very bodies that give life ... you know, through the VAGINA! (Except for those special babies born through a beautiful pouch. Still the vagina was a big part of baby-having!)

Kind of an important job us women have. It's about time we start taking care of our tools to get the job done. If only American doctors see the benefits of what the French are doing to help us.

What do you think of the reeducation of your lady parts after birth? Should it be something funded?


Image via DigitumDei/Flickr

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