Now I don't mean those pesky little cans of fizzy drink….Im talking about pelvic organ prolapse!! You owe it to yourself to understand this issue, if not for your body now but for your future body. Sometimes women don't realize they have a prolapse until they hit menopause and it can be a lot more sever than if caught early. However, it can be helped now and severity reduced. Whether you had a vaginal birth or a C-Section birth, it doesn't matter…there was still the weight of your baby on your pelvic floor.
I didn't realize until at least a year postpartum that I had POP, I was devastated when I found out. I thought my bod had given up on me!
But what is pelvic organ prolapse??
Also known in short as POP, it is when one ore more of the pelvic organs begin to descend downwards in the pelvis, shifting from their ‘normal’ position. It is usually caused by weekend pelvic floor muscles or damaged muscles. It is also a result from prolonged labour, improper pushing techniques, heavy lifting, chronic coughing and chronic bowel straining.
It is best to discover as early as possible to successfully treat it with physiotherapy and specific exercises. This will give you the best chance at restoring it back to its original position (or as close as possible)
When it comes to postpartum related prolapse there are three main types you will hear. Bladder (cystocele), rectal (rectocele) and uterus (hysterocele/uterine prolapse). All of which are graded on a scale of 0 (no prolapse) to 4 (organ is bulging out of the vaginal opening)
But how do I know if I have POP?
Many women don’t know they have a prolapse as it can by symptom free, but here are some symptoms to look out for;
- Pressure in the vagina (or rectum)
- Pelvic girdle pain
- Urinary incontinence
- Urinary retention
- constipation/dificulty emptying
- Tampons push out the vagina
- Feeling like you insides are falling out
Can I still exercise?
YES, however, there are going to be some limitations/considerations.
First of all, impact exercise should be suspended. It doesn't mean you can not run/jump in the future but it really is different for every case. If running/jumping are what you love, then this is a conversation you should have with your health care provider. A plan can be set in place once you have started the foundational exercises. In some cases you may not be able to return to these activities (it really depends on the severity and individual case)
Change up the positions during exercise, don't stand up on your feet for the whole workout. Do some exercises seated, lying down and some side lying. Varying the position of your body throughout the workout will take pressure off the POP
Don’t lift too heavy, adding too much weight can increase the intra-abdominal pressure and add to much pressure to the pelvic floor/organs. Gradually increase the weight and check for any signs/symptoms throughout the workouts and beyond.
Learn correct deep abdominal breathing techniques. Having a functional core is the key to reducing intra-abdominal pressure. So this includes getting your Transverse Abdominus, Multifidi, Pelvic floor and Diaphragm woking in a synergistic pattern. This also means NO breath holding during exercises/lifting. Bellies Inc and Julie Weibe have some great resources for you to use.