Around 6 weeks postpartum, I had expected to feel a bit more like myself. I had avoided exploring anything in the vaginal area for fear of what I would find, but had felt a general heaviness since I had given birth. Not knowing for sure if this was normal, I made an appointment with my doctor to get checked out.
Upon examination, my doctor confirmed that I had a prolapsed bladder. His tone was nonchalant, as if it was totally normal and something that just happened sometimes.
I was completely shocked. What had gone wrong? And why did I never hear that this was a possibility? I immediately started blaming myself. Why had I not done more kegels during my pregnancy? Why didn’t I do more research to know that something like this could happen? Did the decision to use a vacuum during the last bit of pushing influence this? What could I have done to prevent this?
But the truth is, some women really are just more susceptible to prolapse. While a prolapse can occur for many reasons, some women have more of a genetic risk for the condition due to the strength of the connective tissues. It’s not your fault.
That being said, there are some things that may help you either avoid a prolapse, or at least improve your symptoms if you have one.
How to improve symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse
Maintain a normal weight. If you are overweight, you are more susceptible to a prolapse due to increased pressure inside the abdomen.
Avoid constipation. Becoming constipated can cause you to strain during bowel movements, increasing the chance of a prolapse. Ensure you are eating a high fiber diet and drink plenty of water every day.
Keep active. A regular exercise plan keeps your weight in check, and also helps promote healthy bowels. Be sure to include your pelvic muscles in your daily workout routine too.
Avoid extra pressure inside the abdomen. Things like lifting heavy objects, and chronic coughing, create persistent pressure, which can increase the likelihood of developing a prolapse, or making your symptoms worse if you have one. Stay healthy and avoid strenuous lifting.
Whatever you do though, don’t blame yourself for developing a prolapse. Instead, use that energy to find out what you can do to improve your symptoms and treat the condition. Talk to your doctor about your options, and find a qualified physical therapist to help you learn how to strengthen your muscles to improve symptoms.