Tag Archives: birth trauma

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So You Have a Prolapse- Now What?

So You Have a Prolapse- Now What?

You’re feeling heaviness, sagginess or even a bulge in your pelvic floor. Or maybe you even feel like your organs might just fall down to the ground.

The first thing to do is get an evaluation. Actually, before you do that. Stay calm. Don’t panic. It is normal to feel alarmed and disoriented. This is a giant bummer, but you will get through it. Your organs are not going to actually fall out and there is help. You will be able to get your organs back up where they belong! This is also nothing to be ashamed about. Be easy with yourself. As women, we often push ourselves as far as we can go. Respect the slowness of new motherhood, even if you have other children, and be willing to let things slide—so your organs won’t!

  1. Ask your doctor or midwife to check internally to see how your organs are positioned.
  2. If that evaluation feels off, get a second opinion. (You can call a midwife even if you did not birth with one, to get an evaluation) If a doctor tells you there is nothing wrong, but you feel there is, you need a second opinion. If a doctor says you have a prolapse, and to wait a year to see if it gets better, find another doctor. Prolapse rarely gets better on its own. (unlike diastasis which can improve on its own within the first 3 months after giving birth)
  3. Ask for a recommendation for a pelvic floor physical therapist.
  4. If that physical therapist does not do hands-on, hands-in (internal vaginal or anal work), then request it. Many Sexological Bodyworkers are also trained to work with prolapse.
  5. If your birth story is a difficult one, seek trauma counseling through a somatic modality like Somatic Experiencing or Birth Story medicine with Pam England. Birth trauma can affect the muscle tone and responsiveness of your pelvic floor.
  6. Order the Janet Hulme Roll for Control home kit for pelvic core rehab exercises. Commit to 15 minutes a day of these, until you feel deep core strength return.
  7. Get in the habit of doing 5 minutes of pelvic floor strengthening and some suctioning exercises so that you train your pelvic organs to stay lifted.
  8. If you want my help, schedule a phone consult or a postpartum recovery session.

Although it feels like a royal pain to have to go through all this, after you have just been pregnant for 9 months and then birthed a baby, you will see results if you stick to it. This attention to our pelvis is something that actually should be a part of women’s health. So instead of seeing it as a sentence, view it is an opportunity to have optimal pelvic and sexual health. You will actually be ahead of the game, because as we age as women, we all need to strengthen our core and tone our pelvic organs!

What Exactly IS a prolapse?

A prolapse is when your organs have dropped below their optimal position. There are three kinds of prolapses, distinguished by which organ has moved. The three organs that can prolapse in your pelvic floor are your bladder, your cervix and uterus (they are connected), or your rectum.

How Did This Happen?

Some women experience prolapse immediately after giving birth. Extended periods of pushing, fast expulsions, or pushing with a full bladder can sometimes contribute to a prolapse. In this case, most women don’t actually feel the prolapse happen.

You may know exactly how and when your organs dropped down. There may have been a moment when you sneezed and felt things slide down. Or maybe you may have twisted awkwardly to put the car seat in the car and felt a sudden shift.

The most common cause of prolapse that I see in my office is due to overexertion post-partum. Many new moms who feel great after they have given birth get back to their regular activity level and then notice that they have a stage 1,2 or 3 prolapse. New moms are also eager to get back into shape and begin running before there is enough lower back, abdominal and pelvic floor tone to support the bouncing of running. Often, a prolapse ensues.

Frustration Factor

There are many things that can affect your speed of recovery from prolapse. Breastfeeding can affect prolapse because of the hormone relaxin which increases the laxity and softness of ligaments. Ligaments are part of what hold organs in place. So expect to feel a jump in life force and tone when you stop breastfeeding.

Prolapse can also be particularly frustrating because it is unpredictable and does not always correlate with activity level. One day you might be resting and feel that the prolapse is worse. The next day you might go for a walk and surprisingly feel like everything is suspended and light. And then the following day you could feel them lower and heavier again. It can be slow going, but in most cases, non-surgical is both possible, and optimal!

I have been there- I had a rectal prolapse with fecal incontinence and I have healed myself. I do an almost daily practice so that I can experience the joy and freedom of light organs and an ability to use my body however I want to.

Interview on Birth Trauma, Birth Injury and Sexual Health- Holistic Healing.

This interview with The West Coast Trauma Project clarifies the importance of women’s health during the post-partum period, what Sexological Bodywork is and how it works.

It was a thrill to be interviewed for this among the great trauma innovators like Peter Levine and Staci Haines.

I share my personal story and my motivation for doing this work. This is especially relevant for bodyworkers, teachers and therapists.

Click on the photo below to hear the 30 min. interview!




Birth Injury – Common But Not Normal

Rant alert.

Each week women come into my office with a troubling problem that their doctor, midwife or even physical therapist has told them is normal.

I am here to tell you that:

Wetting your pants is not normal. Ever. Not if you just had a baby. Not if you are doing Crossfit. Not if you are walking on the beach. Not if you sneeze. Not if you are pregnant. If you are wetting your pants, there could be a few causes. The main ones are each that your pelvic floor muscles are too strong and tight or too weak and lax.

“Urinary incontinence,” the technical term for “leaking” or “wetting your pants” is common however. You don’t need to panic or feel bad. Many women experience less bladder control during pregnancy and birth. It is not a life sentence or an inevitability.

Seeing your organs from your vaginal opening is not normal. If, in any position, you can see your cervix, your bladder or bulging from your rectum into your vaginal opening, this is not normal. If you have to manually push your organs back up and in, that’s also not normal.

These are all signs of organ prolapse. Unfortunately, because many doctors don’t know what to do about organ prolapse, they tell many women that it is normal. Many women avoid sex, feel unsettled and sad about the state of their lady bits, and generally confused by the disconnect by what they are feeling and what their health care provider is reflecting back to them. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Pain during sex or avoiding sex is also not normal. Total aversion towards sex, pain upon penetration, or pain internally is not normal. “Low libido” is a term that seems to define a fixed thing, but actually refers to a whole combination of factors that could contribute to feeling what you might throw into the category of “low libido.”

All of these are common. There are many reasons you may experience pain during sex, including lack of lubrication (nursing requires a lot of moistening), lack of sufficient arousal time, lack of emotional connection, scar tissue that burns or is pulling the pelvic muscle tissue in different directions. “Low libido” is a term that seems to define a fixed thing, but actually refers to a whole combination of factors that could contribute to feeling what you might throw into the category of “low libido.” Aversion towards sex may be the visceral fear of returning to the area that had to completely reshape, resounding echoes of birth trauma, a changed view of what you want out of sex and relationship currently or physical birth injury that affects your relationship to your body.

The main reason to understand that these things are common but not normal is so that you can GET SOME HELP. If we see them as normal, that basically infers that we need to suck it up and live with it. When we understand that it is common, but not at all optimal functionally, we can do something about it!

SO, What can you do about it?

Healing is multi-faceted and individual, so I cannot give you one answer that fits for every woman. However, here are a few starting points.

1. If you haven’t already, explore yourself in a hand mirror. We often have a distorted image of what we look like, because of how we feel. Really look at your vulva, and see how it is. Allow for the feelings that come up. There may be real grief, surprise, or even relief. This will take everything out of the realm of imagination and allow you to see things as they really are.

2. Follow your intuition and what you see. If you KNOW something is not right, it isn’t. It doesn’t matter if someone tells you you’re are fine and normal. There is a reason that you are not feeling fine or normal. Find a pelvic floor physical therapist trained holistically by Tami Lynn Kent or a Sexological Bodyworker who has experience in working internally and seeing the whole of who you are. You need someone who can work sensitively. You may experience an emotional release or a resurgence of grief about your birth story. This is part of the healing process.

3. Be patient but not complacent. Being a new mom can put you in a fog, where everyone else’s needs overshadow yours. In fact, you may only be cursorily experience these symptoms- really feeling them. Some women don’t notice they are avoiding certain positions during sex because of pain, for instance. Taking care of an infant is a full-time job, balancing that with work and partnership can be overwhelming. It is understandable that some of these physical needs have slipped into the backdrop. But now that they are in your awareness, take action. Don’t push through exercises that you have a sinking feeling are exaggerating the symptoms you are feeling. Reach out for the help you need.

4. If you had a traumatic birth experience, not what other people consider traumatic, but what FEELS TO YOU like traumatic, it is CRUCIAL that you get support to process it. Pam England, author of Birthing from Within, offers online Birth Medicine sessions. I study with her, and I cannot recommend her highly enough. She is a true wise woman- she has worked in birth for over forty years and has medicine for each woman and each birth experience. I also highly recommend Somatic Experiencing trauma resolution. Better yet, someone trained in pelvic floor work together with trauma work. Resolving birth trauma is at the root of healing symptoms. Your body won’t let you skip this step. Invest in the step soon!

It is important that we “normal”ize the range of women’s birth experiences, including ecstatic ones and orgasmic ones, so that as women we expand our vision of what birth can be.

Pass this information on to your friends.  Women everywhere need to know that full healing from childbirth is possible, with the right support!

*Thanks to Jane Austin for this important linguistic distinction.