Exercise and Prolapse Ramblings
Let’s talk about the pelvic floor, exercise and prolapse. Soon after the birth of my second, I discovered that I had multiple prolapses. Grade two rectocele, grade one cystocele and a pinch of a urethrocele. That was a little over 3 years ago and I’ve had an awesome recovery. (More details on exactly where these are today, later in the post.) It’s been a long rehab road. I’d love to share more of that with you!
I have shared the whole journey very openly along the way inside our MomFit membership group, but not much outside that group. I’m a bit of a private person but I think it’s time to share more now because I’m tired of the misinformation, especially the fear-mongering, that I keep hearing concerning the pelvic floor.
When I initially discovered I had prolapse it was emotional and heartbreaking for me, just like it is for everyone else. Knowing more and being educated in that area did not help the emotional betrayal that you feel your body just committed. I brought life into this world, and now I have this? Thanks a lot, body.
50% of women have prolapse postpartum. 50%!! Just let that sink in a bit. We don’t hear 50% of women talking about it like it’s something normal. Only 40% of women have a diastasis at 6 months postpartum but you see far more videos and information on “closing the gap” than you do on rehabbing prolapse.
So that brings me back to how much of prolapse is just normal? I had a difficult delivery with my second and his 98th percentile head, chin not tucked, and hand up by his head didn’t help. I went into his birth with every preparation possible for an “easy” natural delivery and just got dealt some genetics and bad luck. (Just thankful my husband’s big head genes also come with a big brain or he’d be in big trouble. LOL)
Anyway, even “knowing” everything I knew about rehabbing the pelvic floor, it was still hard to hear that I now had to rehab prolapse on myself. So I moped around for a few weeks, and finally my loving husband gave me a good “snap out of it” talk. I love this man. He said, “Sarah, if anyone can rehab it, you can. Now get to work and stop feeling sorry for yourself.”
It wasn’t harsh. He was right, and it was exactly what I needed to hear. I knew I didn’t want surgery at any point in this area of my body. It’s not simple, and the side effects and failure rates are very high. (Sidenote: I’m not condemning surgery. I’m simply just stating I didn’t want it for myself and that was a huge motivator for me. I do feel very strongly that if you’re considering surgery, you should do extensive rehab to improve your chances of success both before and after!)
I also knew that I had a whole heck of a lot of knowledge about the human body and the pelvic floor already. I was already helping women successfully improve their prolapses, why was I feeling like a victim now? I don’t know— but I do know that feeling like this part of your body has betrayed you is very connected to our femininity and it is hard emotionally. Way harder than any other injury. When’s the last time someone took their ankle sprain that personally? It just doesn’t happen and that’s part of what makes prolapse so hard to rehab.
You have to step outside the emotions and victim mentality to improve. Victim mentality means you’re always in a negative feedback loop of a self-fulfilling prophecy of suffering. Victim mentality means you’re powerless. I’m not saying that to be harsh, I say that with love because I want to empower you to take charge of your body!!!
So, once I stepped outside of being a victim and got serious, I had a pretty decent road to recovery for prolapse. As expected I had lots of setbacks because I was always pushing the envelope and I’m not a super cautious person in general where the human body is concerned.
Back to the present. I’ve noticed improvements in my prolapse even years postpartum!! I’ll go into more of that in further posts on what that seemingly never-ending journey looked like, but for now I want to share what my prolapse feels like, especially when I exercise.
Right this moment, if I were to bear down to see what level my prolapse is, it would probably be a grade 1/2 to 1 rectocele, grade 1/2 cystocele and nothing on the urethrocele front. That’s bearing down. If I’m not bearing down, you’d never know I had prolapse. Let me say that again. If I’m not bearing down, you’d never know. Pelvic floor feels great!
I’ve experienced fascial healing and functional healing from muscular support. I went from feeling my prolapse all the time, even when I wasn’t bearing down. It was a grade two. Now I’m not able to feel I have prolapse at all, especially when I stand up and move. To get personal, my vagina just turned into walls of muscle. LOL! Which is what the vagina is anyway. Trust me when I say it took A LOT MORE than just doing some kegels. A LOT!! So if you’ve done some kegels and you don’t feel a ton of prolapse improvement, I’d say great job on barely scratching the surface of prolapse rehab. There is more to come!
I knew that logically prior to having prolapse, but now I know it logically and also first hand. Best of both worlds. I’m so lucky. LOL! (Side Note on tearing. You have lots of pelvic floor muscles. So, even if you experience tearing during delivery, you can still build strength. Lots of muscles to pick up the slack so to speak.)
Seriously though, I do feel lucky to have had the opportunity to learn so much about prolapse along the way. I didn’t always feel lucky as I progressed through this process. I often felt quite frustrated, but looking back, rehabbing my prolapse has helped my entire body and made me super strong in a way I’ve not experienced before.
Alright, back to the video here of cleans. This is my second attempt back into Olympic-type lifting. The first time didn’t go well. I had a major setback!!! So I took 8 months, regrouped, got stronger and then came back. Now I feel amazing doing explosive movements. (Yes, I said 8 months— but in my defense, I climb a lot so I wasn’t really focusing on being able to do this type of lifting with all my attention. If powerlifting were my sport that I needed to get back to, that process would have happened a lot quicker. I’m all femurs and monkey arms so the thought of powerlifting being my sport is hilarious. I have the worst body type possible for it, but I still love it. LOL)
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One more thing I want to point out about this video before I go is the fact that I’m not catching into a squat. I feel great generating the power needed to move the bar, but don’t feel strong enough yet to catch in a front squat at this weight. (My traps are stronger than my legs.) I suspect that after a few more weeks of consistent lifting I’ll feel comfortable catching in a squat. Things take time, and that’s what I see people forget the most. Putting on muscle and gaining strength takes time and consistency! Think of it as building positive layers until you have an entire house. If you skip the foundation, your entire house may collapse.
Hopefully my brain dump of thoughts here was helpful for your thinking through your recovery process. I’ll be back later to share more details on the journey itself, and what it took to get my prolapse to a place where I don’t think about it throughout the day anymore. Can you imagine not thinking about your prolapse? Yes! It can happen. 🙂