So You Have a Prolapse- Now What?
By Kimberly Johnson
So You Have a Prolapse- Now What?
You’re feeling heaviness, sagginess or even a bulge in your pelvic floor. Or maybe you even feel like your organs might just fall down to the ground.
The first thing to do is get an evaluation. Actually, before you do that. Stay calm. Don’t panic. It is normal to feel alarmed and disoriented. This is a giant bummer, but you will get through it. Your organs are not going to actually fall out and there is help. You will be able to get your organs back up where they belong! This is also nothing to be ashamed about. Be easy with yourself. As women, we often push ourselves as far as we can go. Respect the slowness of new motherhood, even if you have other children, and be willing to let things slide—so your organs won’t!
- Ask your doctor or midwife to check internally to see how your organs are positioned.
- If that evaluation feels off, get a second opinion. (You can call a midwife even if you did not birth with one, to get an evaluation) If a doctor tells you there is nothing wrong, but you feel there is, you need a second opinion. If a doctor says you have a prolapse, and to wait a year to see if it gets better, find another doctor. Prolapse rarely gets better on its own. (unlike diastasis which can improve on its own within the first 3 months after giving birth)
- Ask for a recommendation for a pelvic floor physical therapist.
- If that physical therapist does not do hands-on, hands-in (internal vaginal or anal work), then request it. Many Sexological Bodyworkers are also trained to work with prolapse.
- If your birth story is a difficult one, seek trauma counseling through a somatic modality like Somatic Experiencing or Birth Story medicine with Pam England. Birth trauma can affect the muscle tone and responsiveness of your pelvic floor.
- Order the Janet Hulme Roll for Control home kit for pelvic core rehab exercises. Commit to 15 minutes a day of these, until you feel deep core strength return.
- Get in the habit of doing 5 minutes of pelvic floor strengthening and some suctioning exercises so that you train your pelvic organs to stay lifted.
- If you want my help, schedule a phone consult or a postpartum recovery session.
Although it feels like a royal pain to have to go through all this, after you have just been pregnant for 9 months and then birthed a baby, you will see results if you stick to it. This attention to our pelvis is something that actually should be a part of women’s health. So instead of seeing it as a sentence, view it is an opportunity to have optimal pelvic and sexual health. You will actually be ahead of the game, because as we age as women, we all need to strengthen our core and tone our pelvic organs!
What Exactly IS a prolapse?
A prolapse is when your organs have dropped below their optimal position. There are three kinds of prolapses, distinguished by which organ has moved. The three organs that can prolapse in your pelvic floor are your bladder, your cervix and uterus (they are connected), or your rectum.
How Did This Happen?
Some women experience prolapse immediately after giving birth. Extended periods of pushing, fast expulsions, or pushing with a full bladder can sometimes contribute to a prolapse. In this case, most women don’t actually feel the prolapse happen.
You may know exactly how and when your organs dropped down. There may have been a moment when you sneezed and felt things slide down. Or maybe you may have twisted awkwardly to put the car seat in the car and felt a sudden shift.
The most common cause of prolapse that I see in my office is due to overexertion post-partum. Many new moms who feel great after they have given birth get back to their regular activity level and then notice that they have a stage 1,2 or 3 prolapse. New moms are also eager to get back into shape and begin running before there is enough lower back, abdominal and pelvic floor tone to support the bouncing of running. Often, a prolapse ensues.
There are many things that can affect your speed of recovery from prolapse. Breastfeeding can affect prolapse because of the hormone relaxin which increases the laxity and softness of ligaments. Ligaments are part of what hold organs in place. So expect to feel a jump in life force and tone when you stop breastfeeding.
Prolapse can also be particularly frustrating because it is unpredictable and does not always correlate with activity level. One day you might be resting and feel that the prolapse is worse. The next day you might go for a walk and surprisingly feel like everything is suspended and light. And then the following day you could feel them lower and heavier again. It can be slow going, but in most cases, non-surgical is both possible, and optimal!
I have been there- I had a rectal prolapse with fecal incontinence and I have healed myself. I do an almost daily practice so that I can experience the joy and freedom of light organs and an ability to use my body however I want to.