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:
- 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.