Unless we’re talking about labiaplasties, vaginal care for women following childbirth doesn’t spur much in the minds of parents — and that’s because we live in the United States. But according to one mother who recently had her daughter abroad, the French consider a women’s nether regions a top priority once the baby comes — so much so that they’ll cover the cost.
American Claire Lundberg isn’t talking about vaginal rejuvenation in her Slate piece about postnatal care in France. The new mother of one simply recounts the experience of federalized dollars covering her rééducation périnéale which included vaginal exercises to get her feeling confident and sexy again. After her daughter was born, Clare writes that she was prescribed — not offered, mind you — 10 to 20 classes to “retrain the muscles of the pelvic floor, including the vagina.” She describes this as one of “the cornerstones of French postnatal care.”
In addition to being offered a cheese course in the hospital and lamenting the absence of that flimsy paper gown, Clare recounts her experience as a great boost of confidence, as well as highlighting how little we (American and Canadian) address mother’s self-confidence outside the realm of plastic surgery:
An American woman gets her six-week postpartum checkup and, if nothing is seriously wrong, she’s cleared to have sex again and sent on her way. If she’s lucky, the doctor or midwife reminds her to do her Kegel exercises, but without much guidance. Meanwhile, at least in the experience of many of my friends, she may still be experiencing a variety of symptoms that, while not medically serious, sure are annoying, embarrassing, and strange, and not at all conducive to reinvigorating her sex life.
The lack of attention from our physicians also leaves a gaping hole by which plastic surgeons can exploit the insecurities of mothers with all kinds of tucks and lifts and botox packages. And as Claire points out, most of these procedures solely address a woman’s appearance rather than physical sensations of feeling good. It seems these days that the only way to feel confident as a mother is to sign up for some extreme procedure that will have you walking around looking like a 20-year-old — as if that alone should be enough to imbue women with self-worth.
Exercise, healthy diets, some relaxation, and now even some vaginal exercises can address women’s post-baby blues from the inside out with the exception of certain personal circumstances, obviously. France seems to have it figured out. Why haven’t we?