Mummy Confession: I have prolapse.
It took a lot of inner conflict within myself to post this on my Blog because of how personal this is, but I figure if it can help anyone, it’s worth it.
**Please note this post contains descriptions of a medical condition.**
“Honey, there’s something wrong. Can you come here please?” I yelled from the bathroom. It was just one day after arriving home from the hospital after the birth of our second child.
“What is it?” My husband questioned as he approached frantically.
“I’m so sorry hon, but I need you to take a look at this. This can’t be normal. There’s something really wrong. What do I do?” I asked in tears.
My husband opened the bathroom door, bracing himself for, he was certain, nothing he hadn’t seen before. After all, he had just witnessed the unintentional water birth of our second child just 20 hours before. We were home on an early release program, and the midwife had just left a few hours before after checking in on how everything was going.
As he looked at me, he reached for his phone.
I’m fairly certain he nearly passed out, and I know I would have, because what was supposed to be inside my body, was not. I held what I later learned was my cervix in my hand, trying to prevent it from protruding any further. What on earth was happening to me? Am I going to die? Surely, this can’t be normal!
We looked up the number the hospital told us to call in case of any questions, and proceeded to ask, “So, something is coming out that I’m pretty sure shouldn’t. I’m not exactly sure what is going on, but would it be best to come in?”
[Yes. I am ridiculously calm it seems in times of duress (sometimes).]
The midwife instructed me to come in as soon as possible. So, we loaded up our newborn, called someone to watch the other child, and were off. Back to the hospital.
The midwives seemed fairly concerned (which in turn concerned me), and yet I had to wait for a doctor to come and check out what was going on. I was told to lie down and wait.
After what seemed like ages, a doctor came in, looking less than impressed. I was investigated and she seemed less than concerned about what, to me, seemed like a pretty big deal. Things should not be on the outside that don’t belong there. She told me to cough, and was not phased. I figured she was probably thinking, “why are you even here?” She told me to push, and all I heard was a slightly surprised, “Oh. That’s not supposed to happen.”
She informs me that I have prolapse. I am given some pamphlets on kegels, told to keep up with those excercises and call to make an appointment with the physiotherapist. Simple, it seems, and I was on my way back home again.
Prolapse is a medical condition in which the pelvic floor muscles are weakened, causing pelvic organs to sag, or buldge.^
After speaking with the physio on the phone, I was given some restrictions for a while. No heavy lifting, nothing heavier than my baby. No extended walking. No straining when using the toilet. Practice my kegels and rest when I feel I need to.
I was on a waiting list for 6 months to actually see a physiotherapist, and after a couple months of visits, I was feeling more normal. I could walk without “heaviness” or having to sit down after short periods of time. I didn’t wet my pants every time I sneezed. Yes, that hadn’t ended after I had my baby.
Prolapse is described as when, “muscles and other kinds of tissue that hold everything in place get stretched out, weak, or torn. When that happens, some of your body parts can drop down below where they’re supposed to be” by WebMD. Basically, in my case, birth had stretched or weakened these muscles, causing the prolapse.
I later learned after asking in my physio appointment that I also had diastasis recti (see Pam’s Story about diastasis here), a separation of the abdominal muscles, which was fairly common in women with prolapse. This limited my excercises even further.
I had another baby, but this time I knew what was happening to my body. I called in the midwives and they started by mentioning surgery and asked if I was done having kids yet. I wasn’t read to make that decision! Was it really necessary? I even felt a bit mocked and embarrassed when I was asked why I didn’t take a picture and post it on social media to ask my friends about it. So, even though I knew what was happening, it still frightened me because it seemed it was still very much an unknown and maybe misunderstood medical issue, especially for “someone my age.”
The midwives got a gynaecologist, who then referred me to a physiotherapist the following day. The process for physiotherapy went a lot quicker this time, and I was seen within a few weeks. Again, I was given restrictions and a pamphlet on kegels and pelvic floor exercises.
I was told this several times, that “at my age” it was not typical to have prolapse. I sat down with a gynaecologist and spoke about what happens now, and what could happen in the future. Yes, some prolapse is a high grade (they rate on a scale 1-5), and they would need surgery sooner obviously. I was told, thankfully, that my prolapse was not very bad, and with physiotherapy it improved drastically. I may never need surgery for it, just to continue with kegel exercises, and do what I can to lessen the strain on my pelvic floor.
I live with it now, and was told that it will always be there, but with proper management (exercises and whatnot) the talk for any further action is not anywhere near as urgent as anyone had initially scared me into thinking. And, though it doesn’t have a huge impact on my life, I’m sure it plays a small part, and obviously I need to be mindful in the future, maintaining my health.
I just hope my story helps someone possibly not completely freak out when they find they have prolapse. The solution is not always surgery! You don’t need to decide right after your baby was born if that was your last! It’s not a health issue I have heard of a lot, or even at all. They definitely don’t discuss prolapse in those birth classes! It’s possible to help manage and improve, and with the proper excercise, get back to nearly normal, though it may take time.
If you have any questions about prolapse or other medical conditions, be sure to consult your doctor or other health care professional. I have included some resources below.
What issues did you have after birth that completely shocked you? What do people never talk about that you feel they should know even just to be armed with knowledge for postpartum? **if you are leaving a comment with graphic detail, please be kind enough to insert a “**Disclaimer: Graphic**” before, thanks!
What is prolapse?
What are the symptoms of prolapse?
How do I prevent or treat prolapse?
Pelvic Floor First: Helpful information and excercises to help with pelvic floor health
Continence Foundation of Australia