Q&A: Postpartum smells, sperm and gender, breastfeeding, and secondhand marijuana smoke
It’s Q&A day!
First, a reminder: you can ask Dewey, my AI librarian, your questions anytime! It has been programmed with writing from all of my books and newsletters. When you ask a question, it will summarize the main takeaways for you, with links to relevant resources on ParentData.org. Last month, you all asked Dewey over 23,000 questions! (And there are about 19,000 unique answers in the database, so almost all of those questions got a quick answer.) I hope it will save you time in finding the answers you’re looking for.
Today’s first question is available to all subscribers (about postpartum vaginal odor), and there are a few bonus ones behind the paywall (about whether men produce more babies of one gender, easier breastfeeding the second time, and secondhand marijuana smoke around a baby).
Enjoy! And remember, you can submit questions for future weeks here.
Why does my vagina smell different postpartum? I don’t shower as much as I used to (almost three months postpartum), but even when I’m freshly showered, within a couple of hours I can tell I stink down there. It’s a different BO than pre-baby. Will it ever go back to normal? I don’t think I will want my spouse to venture down there again if it doesn’t return to normal. 😔
—Stinky and sad about it
I asked my favorite pelvic-floor physical therapist (and vagina expert), Dr. Sara Reardon, for her advice on this. Here’s Sara.
After birth, your hormones go through a dramatic shift, when estrogen levels drop drastically (hello, night sweats and dry vagina!) and your prolactin levels increase to support breast milk production. This hormonal change alters the pH in your vulvar and vaginal tissues, making it conducive for new bacteria to hang out, thus the reason for the new odor down there. Even when you wash or cleanse the area, it reoccurs, because that bacteria is naturally occuring.
Don’t panic! This new scent is temporary and will gradually transition back to your pre-pregnancy scent as you get closer to six months postpartum. Please don’t try to cover it up with deodorants or scented moisturizers or cleansers, because that will just further alter your pH and bacteria in the area.
Rinse daily and regularly with warm water, wear cotton underwear, and even feel free to go underwear-free at nighttime. And here is a great article to reference as well if needed.