I think I have a prolapse – now what?
We live in a wonderful world filled with technology, giving us so much access to information to be able to educate ourselves about different topics. It is great because so many mums can do research about what to expect to happen to their bodies during pregnancy and beyond. There are many places where women can read about prolapse, which is great because people are educating themselves about what to look out for during pregnancy. If you haven’t read much, the main symptoms we talk about when it comes to pelvic organ prolapse include
- Heavy, dragging sensation in the vagina
- Feeling a bulge in the vagina
- Seeing a bulge in your vagina
- Dragging back pain
It is really great to know what the symptoms of prolapse are, but if you are experiencing any of the above, it can be very stressful! This blog is going to discuss what you should do, if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms.
Do not Panic
When you read about the above symptoms or think that you have one or more, it can be very stressful to think you may have a prolapse. Firstly, you need to try not to panic. Prolapse can happen for different reasons to different women. Sometimes all you need to do is change a couple of the things you are doing in daily life, and you can greatly reduce your symptoms. Also, after you have given birth, whether vaginally or via c-section, your body is going to feel very different. You have had a baby growing for 9 months, and then things change and your baby is now out in the world with you! Your pelvis and abdomen take some time to recover from childbirth, so having a swollen feeling in your vagina is very normal and not a sign of prolapse. Before you stress and work yourself into a panic thinking you may have pelvic organ prolapse, remember what your body has been through, the amazing birth of your child, so give yourself some time to recover.Prolapse can happen for different reasons to different women. #performbetter @pogophysio Click To Tweet
Think about what activity you have been doing recently
When you first start getting back into exercise after giving birth, or when you start increasing the intensity of your exercise, you may experience some symptoms of prolapse. Your pelvic floor is made up of muscles and ligaments. Your pelvic floor acts like all other muscles in the body, and it can get fatigued. Sometimes you may get heavy dragging sensations because your pelvic floor is fatigued or because there has been a lot of pressure on the ligaments of the pelvic floor. If you are getting these symptoms, have a think about what you have been doing in the last week or so, did you return to running, did you start adding weights to your squats, have you been lifting your 13kg toddler more? These are all factors that can put pressure on your pelvic floor. If you are getting prolapse symptoms, think about what you could have been doing which may have been increasing pressure (eg such as the above) and reduce them. You don’t need to completely rest, but you do need to reduce what you were doing, work on your pelvic floor exercises, and then slowly try and increase your activity again.You don’t need to completely rest, but you do need to reduce what you were doing, work on your pelvic floor exercises, and then slowly try and increase your activity again #performbetter @pogophysio Click To Tweet
See a pelvic floor physiotherapist
A physiotherapist is the perfect person to help you know how to increase your physical activity after birth. If you are like the person in example 2, who has increased their physical activity and is now experiencing symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse, then a physiotherapist will be able to help you plan your exercise in a safe way. They can also give you exercises to help build up to where you want to go. A physiotherapist who has extra training in pelvic floor will be able to perform an internal examination of your pelvic floor an assess for prolapse. You will then know if you do have a prolapse, if so what grade it is, and then make a solid plan from there. Your physiotherapist can also make sure you are performing your pelvic floor contraction well and help give you a program for strengthening as well
Re-think and re-jig your exercise program
Certain exercises will put extra pressure on the pelvic floor for certain people. What your pelvic floor and body can handle is different for each person, depending on what you did for exercise pre-pregnancy and how your pregnancy is affecting your body. When you go back to exercise, start with body weight type things and then slowly build up the weights. Also, start with smaller time frames and build from there. Sometimes you may find doing exercise in the morning may fatigue your pelvic floor, so doing something in the afternoon can help. If you are really tired, doing extra exercise on top of a fatigued pelvic floor may not be perfect timing, so having a rest and trying again the next day may be the best thing for you. There is no recipe, there is no right or wrong, all you can do is participate in the exercise you love and adapt it so you can ease back into it and protect your pelvic floor at the same time.There is no recipe, there is no right or wrong, all you can do is participate in the exercise you love and adapt it. #performbetter @pogophysio Click To Tweet
Remember how to lift properly
As a mum, you do A LOT of lifting. Whether it is a washing basket full of sheets or a barbell, you need to make sure you lift properly to ensure abdominal pressure is evenly distributed. The way to do this is to bend your knees, keep the load close to you, push through your heels and exhale as you lift.
Don’t get constipated
Constipation is a risk factor for prolapse. If each time you pass a bowel motion you are straining and pushing, each time you pass a bowel motion you are placing a strong downward pressure on your pelvic floor. If you are experiencing issues with constipation, you can have a chat to your GP or dietician about how you can enhance your diet to help (eg fibre, water, vegetables etc). Toileting position also can help make it easier to pass a bowel motion. Having your knees higher than your hips, by raising your heels (eg with a stool under your feet or coming up onto your toes) and then leaning forward and rest your elbows on your knees, it will help relax your pelvic floor and place you into a better positioning.
Being worried about prolapse can be very stressful. I hope these tips have helped. If you have any queries or concerns please feel free to email me to get some advice at firstname.lastname@example.org
Emily Georgopolous (APAM)
Featured in the Top 50 Physical Therapy Blog
Click here to book an appointment with Emily.