GREAT HEALTH: My Life With Prolapse - Great Health Guide
GREAT HEALTH: My Life With Prolapse

GREAT HEALTH: My Life With Prolapse

‘My Life With Prolapse’ written by Magdalena Hawley published in Great Health Guide (May 2017). Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when a pelvic organ-such as your bladder-drops (prolapses) from its normal place in your lower belly and pushes against the walls of your vagina. Check this great article by personal trainer and food & wellness coach Margdalena on how to have an exercise to strengthen your pelvic and shaping up your post-birth body.   
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GREAT HEALTH: My Life With Prolapse

written by Magdalena Hawley

We tend to take our pelvic floor for granted. I was the same. That is why I now want to educate women about the importance of becoming strong from the inside out post-birth and raise awareness of prolapse and pelvic floor dysfunctions.

What is Pelvic Organ Prolapse? Prolapse occurs when the muscles, fascia and ligaments holding your pelvic organs (bladder, uterus, and bowel) are weakened and stretched, which allows the pelvic organs to drop.

This is quite common, but it’s hardly spoken about. Most women have never even heard about prolapse before they have the condition.

I was diagnosed with prolapse at 19 months’ post-birth and it was a huge shock. I went to see a physiotherapist specialising in women’s health as for months I had suffered from incontinence. But as I leaked only during high-intensity exercises like running and jumping and was fine during pump classes and lifting weights, I kept ignoring it. I thought, ‘That’s normal as I had a baby’. My turning point was when I did a high-intensity class, where I jumped almost non-stop for 45 minutes…and I ended up with a wet crotch! At that point I thought that I need to do something about it!

Even when I made my appointment with the women’s health physio, I thought that she was going to say that it’s normal to have weak pelvic floor and leak after childbirth! I did not expect to find out that I have stage two bladder prolapse and minor bowel prolapse.

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To be honest, my first reaction was anger! I’ve learned from my physio that one in three women will suffer from prolapse after giving birth and 50% of mums are going to suffer from prolapse at some point of their life! I couldn’t understand why no one talks about it if it’s so common. On top of that I’ve learned that all the exercises I had been doing like heavy lifting and high-intensity exercises could make it worse!

At first, my women’s health physio prescribed me mainly Kegel exercises, also known as pelvic floor muscle training. Soon my program turned into more functional exercise, as pelvic floor is a functional muscle and needs to be used with other muscles to become stronger. Isolated moves, like Kegels, are great to start, however to strengthen your pelvic floor you need to apply similar rules as when you work other muscles in your body. Thus, start with the basic exercises and then progress into more complex moves and finally add resistance.

The good news is that you can do exercises that will not only help you strengthen your pelvic floor muscles but will also shape up your butt. My two favorite exercises are the Glute Bridge and the Clams. I still incorporate these exercises in my training sessions so essentially my pelvic floor exercises are part of my training session, so I don’t have to find extra time to do them.

1. GLUTE BRIDGE WITH A BALL SQUEEZE:

  • Lie down on your back with knees bent and feet flat

  • Place a soft ball between your knees

  • As you exhale lift your bum of the ground, engage the pelvic floor and squeeze the ball with your knees

  • As you inhale lower the bum back and relax the pelvic floor

2. CLAMS:

  • Lie on your side with knees bent and your heels together

  • As you exhale lift the top knee keep your heels together

  • Be intentional about lifting through the pelvic floor

  • As you inhale lower the knee back down and relax the pelvic floor

As my pelvic floor became stronger, I started running and I introduced some more plyometric exercises (i.e. exercise that involves rapid and repeated stretching and contracting of the muscles, designed to increase strength). I also completed the Spartan obstacle course event (which was so much fun). Now my pelvic floor is quite strong, I don’t have bowel prolapse anymore, and my bladder prolapse is visible just when I’m bearing down. I can even deadlift more than my body weight again!

I consider myself lucky because I used this experience as a motivation to help others. However, there are many mums who feel like their body let them down when realising they have prolapse. They feel alone, lost, and depressed!

Remember, prolapse is not just an old lady’s problem and leaking is never normal. It’s
common but not normal. In most cases, it can be fixed quite easily!

Author of this article:
Magdalena Hawley is a Qualified Personal Trainer and Food & Wellness Coach. She is a founder and head trainer of Mums Going Strong Fitness group and personal training company specialising in postnatal fitness with a focus on core and pelvic floor recovery.

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