Living with Pelvic Organ Prolapse

June is Pelvic organ prolapse month. I wanted to bring to you the story of one of my inspiring clients who is recovering from pregnancy, birth and healing her pelvic organ prolapse.

Before we go into her story I want to give a brief description of what POP is.

Pelvic Organ Prolapse is when there is a lack of support from the muscle/soft tissue within the pelvic basin that results in the pelvic organs falling out of place as well as or a bulging of one organ into another. There are different stages of POP and they can range from mild to severe. In the case of my client she has both a prolapse and laxity issues – she is still working on strengthening her entire body and healing from the inside out. Please read on to hear about her journey and her recovery so far.

‘How soon after the birth of your daughter did you become aware of the prolapse? What sort of symptoms did you have?’

I noticed a bulge at the entrance of my vagina when my daughter was about 4 weeks old. This was my second child and I had already experienced symptoms like this about 12 months after my first, so this was much sooner and worse than the first time

‘Who did you first speak to and did you feel that there was enough support provided?’

I immediately went to see my local NHS Women’s Health Physio who was very helpful and booked me in immediately for an assessment – she said I didn’t have to wait for a GP referral which was great.

When told it was a prolapse I was very tearful and upset to be experiencing these symptoms again and actually felt quite angry – feeling as though my body had somehow let me down (I couldn’t balance this with the fact that I had grown and birthed two healthy beautiful babies) but also because I didn’t know what I could’ve done to prevent this. I wasn’t advised to do anything other than pelvic floor exercises a few times a day during pregnancy. I felt let down and  that I wasn’t informed enough.This time around I felt that I was well and truly done for – that perhaps having my daughter just before 40 was the final nail in the coffin and I wouldn’t be able to be that fit mum that I had wanted to be. I didn’t bounce back like I did with my first and I feared I wouldn’t be able to do the physical training required to get back to my old self. My head wasn’t in a good place for a long time and I spent hours and hours while breastfeeding scanning the internet for something to help but much of the information talked about pessaries and surgery – I was gutted.

‘When and where did you start with your recovery’

I was about 6 weeks postpartum. I had my check up with the GP and talked about my symptoms and that I’d already had an appointment with the women’s health physio. The GP said she would leave me in her capable hands. I didn’t know what I was expecting and I didn’t feel at ease after the GP appointment. I had my physio assessment and she gave me pelvic floor exercises to do, advice on preventing constipation and asked to see me in a month. She told me that I had more of a laxity issue than a prolapse and if we could build strength in the pelvic floor then that would improve laxity and reduce the symptoms. Time went on and I continued with my internet searches and in the process came across information where I learnt that connecting the diaphragm and breath to the pelvic floor was crucial and how  flared ribs from pregnancy can affect breathing. I read how posture and fascia were also key players and I realised that there was so much more to my recovery than just doing a few pelvic floor squeezes. During my searches I came across a private Mummy MOT practitioner, Gillian McCabe and I decided to pay and have a second opinion. This was about 8-9 weeks postpartum. I had a holistic physio assessment, started the recovery program and at about 4 months postpartum, through Gill’s referral began to support this by starting 1:1 sessions with Samala – focusing on the Holistic Core Restore Everywoman program initially”

‘What have been your biggest challenges so far and how has your relationship with yourself, partner, family been affected?’

I avoided sex mainly through fear, but now I think it will actually help the prolapse symptoms, our relationship and my head space. I didn’t realise that exercise IS my stress outlet and not being able to do strength training or HIIT makes me irritable and generally not right mentally and physically. This, on top of hormones, tiredness and breastfeeding makes for a lot of arguments at home, which isn’t a great place to be. I also then feel guilty – because I do have two children who are healthy and I am alive and well.

‘How do you feel now and where on the road to recovery are you?’

Some days I think the symptoms are better, some days I think they are not, some days I think they may be worse. I am still breastfeeding so I still have laxity issues but the main thing is that I feel much more in control of my body and I am now actively building up strength again, feeling safe and support by Samala and Gill. Only time will tell what happens over the coming months but I allowing this to be a slow road to recovery because it has to be, and that I need to heal inside first .

Currently training with me once a week, we have just completed the Holistic Core Restore Everywoman program and we are now moving on to a progressed version. She is working toward taking part in the Tough Mudder race in August and we are going to do everything we can to prepare her mentally and physically.I am so proud of this amazing Woman and she truly is going from strength to strength. Pelvic Organ Prolapse can be more common among women who have been pregnant and birthed babies and symptoms do not always appear withing the few first few months after giving birth and can take up to 2 years to present. Some women may not even be aware of having a POP as their symptoms can be very mild. Regardless of where you are in your stage of life taking care of your pelvic health is vital. Every woman needs to have a strong, connected and functional pelvic floor. There isn’t always a direct reason as to why a woman has a prolapse so prevention is paramount – and in the case of my client, healing in the right way is key and the stronger you are the better your outcome will be.

If you are concerned about your pelvic health and think you may have a prolapse or even if you feel something isn’t quite right please get in touch. Email Samala@fitbump.net and I will be in touch.