Childbirth is as miraculous as it is beautiful, and it showcases a woman’s gentleness and strength.
Instead of basking in the joy of motherhood after labor, some women are caught off guard by a new nemesis — postpartum prolapse. Dealing with protrusions from the vagina is an unnerving experience, to say the least, especially for new mothers.
The stigma and unsettling lack of resources for this condition are the main reasons women don’t get the help they (or you) deserve.
As humans, we fear what we don’t know. But you’re not alone in this battle. We’re going to help you understand this isolating and painful condition and most importantly, give you proven ways to recover from it.
P.S. You can completely heal prolapse!
Understanding Postpartum Prolapse
Remember the days of jumping your heart out on a trampoline? Falling wasn’t much of a thought because you trusted it to support you and bounce you back up in the air. Fun times!
Your pelvic floor muscles are pretty similar to trampolines. They are a strong, yet flexible group of muscles that support all your pelvic organs while contracting and relaxing when needed.
Now, imagine this trampoline being worn out, or having tears that are only covered by weak patches while you and your friends are jumping on it.
This is exactly what happens when your pelvic floor weakens or has scar tissue from birth injuries or other injuries. In this scenario, you won’t be able to enjoy jumping, laughing, or doing other physical activities without pain or involuntarily urinating yourself (incontinence). And it just so happens that childbirth is the leading cause of pelvic floor dysfunctions including pelvic organ prolapse (POP) among women.
Prolapse occurs when your pelvic organs slip down from their normal position, creating a bulge in your vagina.
Is postpartum prolapse normal?
Developing prolapse post-birth is extremely common, but not normal (and should not be normalized)! This might be surprising because pelvic floor disorders are seldom discussed, but numbers don’t lie:
- 35% of women in the U.S. who give birth vaginally are estimated to develop POP. Mothers who experienced operative vaginal birth (delivery using devices such as forceps or vacuum) have the highest risk with a 53% chance, compared to cesarean births with a 12% risk.
- More than 400,000 hysterectomies (surgery to remove the uterus as a means to “cure” prolapse and incontinence) are performed in the United States each year according to The Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC).
- Women have an 11.1% chance of undergoing a single operation for POP and there’s a 17% reoperation rate, which is “unacceptably high” according to one study.
So… What makes pregnant women more vulnerable to prolapse?
Prolapse Before, During, and After Childbirth
Before giving birth, there are two hormones that dramatically increase in a woman’s body: estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen helps with milk production and vascularization (formation of blood vessels) while progesterone increases the laxity (looseness) of ligaments and joints in the body. But as useful as it is in preparation for delivery, the rising laxity and weight of the baby add strain to the pelvic floor throughout pregnancy.
During labor, the pressure in your pelvic floor increases due to pushing and stretching. This affects the ligaments and fascia (connective tissues vital for proper posture and movement) on the pelvic floor especially when second stage delivery is prolonged. Doctors might also perform an episiotomy (a cut on your perineum to make the vagina’s opening larger) which causes scar tissue after the operation.
After giving birth, a woman may or may not be aware that she has a prolapse. Getting back in shape through rigorous exercises could easily worsen the condition until the bulge becomes noticeable.
You are also more likely to have a vaginal prolapse if:
- You have low estrogen levels – which might cause thinning of the vagina and weakening of the fascia that covers the organs within the pelvic floor.
- You are overweight – which puts you at a higher risk of developing not just prolapse, but also other pelvic floor disorders.
- You cough a lot or strongly (because of respiratory problems) – which forces your abdominal muscles to contract and your pelvic floor to move downwards repeatedly.
- You often have constipation – which bunches up your rectum (blocking the passage for normal bowel movement) eventually straining and causing general coordination problems with the entire pelvic floor.
- You usually lift heavy objects – which increases your risk of developing incontinence due to the increased downward pressure especially when done inappropriately.
- You have fibroids or a pelvic tumor – which may cause excessive bleeding, reproductive problems, and increased pressure on the bladder and pelvic floor due to frequent or obstructed urination.
- You had vaginal prolapse surgery in the past – which may have developed complications unnoticeably over time especially if there’s mesh involved.
Signs and Symptoms of Postpartum Prolapse
Early stages of prolapse often go unnoticed. Therefore, knowing the signs is crucial so you can administer the most ideal intervention before the condition progresses.
Common symptoms include:
- frequent and incomplete urination or defecation
- pressure in your rectum or vagina, especially when moving
- chronic constipation
- pelvic pain
- distended abdomen
- low backache
- pain, numbness, or bleeding during sexual intercourse
- a feeling of heaviness or bulging on your genitals (as if sitting on a ball)
If you have any of these symptoms, please don’t do Kegels!
Although your doctor will recommend them, Kegels are mostly ineffective and can worsen your condition. Instead, research your condition more and try a natural healing approach that’s been proven to Reverse and Realign Your Prolapse.
Stages of Prolapsed Uterus
Uterine prolapse, the most common type of prolapse in women after postpartum, is often classified in stages, from 0 to 4:
Stage 0: No prolapse.
Stage 1: The pelvic organ begins to drop into the vagina.
Stage 2: The pelvic organ dropped in the vagina’s opening.
Stage 3: The pelvic organ starts to bulge beyond the vagina.
Stage 4: The entire organ is outside the vagina.
The kind of treatment you will receive will depend on:
Prolapse Type (which organ has moved)
Prolapse is classified and (are most often) treated specifically based on affected organs. Common types of prolapse include cystocele (bladder); urethrocele (urethra); rectocele (rectum); enterocele (small intestine); uterine prolapse (uterus); and vaginal vault prolapse (top of vagina).
Prolapse Stage (how far it has moved)
The severity of prolapse is a major determinant to identify the most suitable intervention a patient might need. Healing methods could range from conservative (usually for early stages) to invasive procedures (usually for critical stages).
Your age, health, and medical history
Both you and your doctor have to consider your age (because aging slows down the healing process, meaning slower recovery), and comorbidities (posing a greater risk of developing complications), among other factors.
Family Planning (whether you want to have more children)
Certain healing methods might prevent you from having sexual intercourse. That’s why it’s important to discuss your childbearing plans with your doctor, especially if you’re considering invasive procedures which could have irreversible side effects.
Treatment Options For Postpartum Prolapse
To be clear — postpartum prolapse does not heal on its own.
Some might say prolapse doesn’t need treatment unless it interferes with normal activities, but that’s just wrong in so many ways. You deserve all the help you can get to get rid of postpartum prolapse!
Generally, prolapse treatment options are either conservative (non-surgical) or invasive (surgical). If you’re wondering which one is better, we personally advocate for non-surgical, holistic healing — the safest choice for women.
Here’s a quick comparison:
Surgical Options for Prolapse
Prolapse surgeries can either be obliterative or reconstructive.
We believe that prolapse surgery has higher risks and doesn’t guarantee long-term benefits. And like we’ve mentioned before, prolapse can recur even after surgery.
Are you willing to go through the pain, expense, and side effects while knowing it might not actually help you?
It’s a big risk to take.
Obliterative surgery narrows the vagina (partially or completely) to support the pelvic organs but patients can no longer have sexual intercourse after the operation.
Reconstructive surgery, on the other hand, aims to restore the pelvic organs to their original position. The surgeries could also differ depending on the prolapsed organs. Sometimes, multiple surgeries have to be performed to fully fix it.
But do keep in mind that prolapse surgeries have high failure rates. A study even found out that nearly 1 in 5 women who undergo hysterectomy (one of the most common surgeries to treat prolapse), don’t actually need it. The reason why it’s still widely performed is that women are not offered alternative treatment options for benign conditions.
Non-Surgical Options for Prolapse
These healing alternatives will help you reverse your prolapse gradually:
- Weight Loss relieves stress on the pelvic floor.
- Clean-eating decreases constipation and fills your body with nutrients to recover quickly.
- Hypopressives improve reflexivity and lessen pressure on the abdominal-pelvic cavity.
- Scar Tissue Remediation decreases scar tissue and releases emotional traumas in the womb.
- Belly Dancing is an empowering and expressive form of dance with great health benefits.
- Pelvic floor relaxation eases up tension on the pelvic floor.
- Essential Oils help process negative emotions you’re having due to your condition.
- Vaginal Steaming calms and relaxes your pelvic floor muscles through sitting over warm herb-infused water.
- Visualization and Affirmations work by seeing and affirming your aspirations such as having optimal health.
- Doing Yoga to support and honor your pregnancy, labor, birth, and full recovery.
- Weight Exercises help strengthen your pelvic muscles in a guided manner.
- Wearing Pessaries is a renowned temporary fix for prolapse, but doesn’t solve the root cause of the problem.
- Doing Kegels is a famous pelvic floor exercise, but can actually worsen your condition. Since scar tissue is often the cause of prolapse, Kegels won’t help many women.
How to Heal Postpartum, Prolapse & Pelvic Dysfunction: The Secret No One Tells You!
Postpartum Prolapse isn’t a Life Sentence!
A warm and supportive community awaits you at Women Cycles.
We have many pelvic floor programs curated by specialists, midwives, teachers, and healers who healed their prolapses naturally. Now, they’re teaching our members how to heal themselves too!
At Women Cycles, you’ll find a community of women who are caring and nurturing.
Your healing journey doesn’t have to be lonely or hard.
Let’s be prolapse-free together! You got this.