A post-partum discussion
After my second pregnancy 5 years ago, I made the switch from using tampons to using a menstrual cup. I did all the research I thought adequate at the time and found the cup that suited my body and lifestyle the best. I was happy! I managed to insert it properly, it popped open nicely and I hardly ever had leaks. It was a dream. I almost got a bit sad when I found out about my third surprise pregnancy, but I diligently cleaned my beloved cup and stored it away for when I was ready to use it again once my cycle returned after birth.
What is a cervix anyway?
Because I never had cup issues, I never really paid attention to my cervix. I was pretty much regular with my cycle and so had no need to even know what a cervix was, how it worked or how it could influence what cup I wear.
During the course of your cycle, the cervical position, texture and degree of openness changes. Many women like to follow this process, as they are more in control of knowing exactly where they are at in their cycle. During the beginning of your cycle, when you have your period, the cervix is usually at its lowest, allowing menstrual blood through from the uterus. You can check if you have a high, medium or low cervical height by following the knuckle rule.Your cervix is basically the lower, narrow part of your uterus and connects the uterus and vagina, looking almost like a little doughnut. It is made up of muscle, which allows menstrual blood through from the uterus into the vagina, it guides sperm into the uterus and it is the opening through which a baby passes when born naturally. The cervical canal opens and closes, depending on your hormonal level. When a woman goes into labour and the medical practitioner talks about being 2cm or 7cm or 10cm dilated, it is the cervical opening they are talking about.
How to choose a menstrual cup
Every woman is different and so there are many different cups on the market to suit everybody’s needs. MeLuna has designed a large variety of cup sizes with different levels of firmness, exactly for this reason. If your cervix were generally low during menstruation, you would need a shorter cup like the MeLuna shorty; if it sits higher up, most normal length menstrual cups should work for you. Whichever way, you will soon find your groove.
But then pregnancy happened!
Pregnancy does a whole lot to your body and one can’t always keep up with the changes and aches and pains that accompany it. During pregnancy, the cervix thickens and softens in preparation to host and protect a little growing bubba. During this process, as baby gets bigger, it just makes sense that the muscles weaken, stretch and the cervix dilate to prepare for delivery. Then, if all goes well, you get to deliver your baby.
It just happened that the two Mini Matters moms had their babies closely together, and their cycles returned soon after each other. I had a C-section, and my sister had a vaginal delivery. As my cycle returned I grabbed for my beloved cup, sterilized it quickly and rushed off to the bathroom to insert it quickly before baby fusses. I usually use the punch fold, so I popped the wall of the one side of the cup in and pushed the cup up in an attempt to insert it… I pushed a bit, and pushed some more… wiggled here and there, then pushed some more. I then tried a different fold, but it felt like I was hitting a brick wall. What on earth happened to my cervix?
After a few more tries over the course of the next two days, I stated reading up and figuring out what was going on ‘down there’. It seemed that, although I had a C-section, my cervix dilated and moved down into my vagina much lower than before and so wouldn’t really let me insert my regular cup. I had to wait a few more cycles for the muscles to strengthen and recoup. In the meantime, I sent a message to my dear sister to bring me some cloth pads and sponges to keep going until maybe one day, if ever, I can use my cup again or change to a different one.
Her reply on the other hand was quite comical, as she has been struggling with the exact same thing on return of her cycle. “You must see my ridiculous cup solution at the moment – I turned a shorty cup inside out and cut off the stem, now I have to empty every three hours, even at night”. I laughed a lot and didn’t feel so alone anymore.
Over time, both our cervixes will change and move closer to their pre-pregnancy stages, although only time will tell how much and how quickly this will happen. As each woman is different and each body reacts differently to pregnancy and birth (whether vaginally or via C-section), these things cannot always be predicted. We do, however, find comfort in the large range of MeLuna cups, our menstrual sponges and Lady Matters cloth pads in our store to suit every need of the journey to recovery.
Have a look on our website for more info or to order your MeLuna cup and other Lady Matters products here.