My baby has a flat head. Not, like, the whole head . . . just the right side. He’s a good sleeper, a chill baby, and really likes hanging out in our big bed. He also REALLY likes to lie on his right side, hence the flattening. My first baby was one of those kids you can’t put down for a second. So no flat head there.
I suspected my baby had a flat head and when the pediatrician confirmed it at the two-month checkup I pretty much felt that instant tsunami of mom guilt that we all get when we fuck up. The best part? I paused for a second before responding to the pediatrician after she gave me detailed instructions on baby wearing. I went slack-jawed as the gears in my foggy and tired postpartum brain went something like – baby wearing – heavy – no lifting – sad vagina – prolapse – fuck my life. It triggered some more sads and helplessness and even more crying, which has basically become secondary only to breathing for me these days.
Anyway, me, my happy yet flat-headed baby and my sad, sad vagina have been to two sessions plus one phone call check in with my Pelvic Floor Pathway physiotherapist Bree. Bree had to change up the vagina exercises because my lack-of-perineum adds on an extra layer of structural weakness for pelvic floor. The new exercise involves a visualization of bringing together the space just in front of my sit bones, holding for five seconds and then pulsing five times with a full release. The goal is to strengthen the middle since the front of my pelvic floor is pretty strong now. I am still free and clear of urinary and fecal incontinence so I consider that a win.
I’ve been to three sessions with my core physiotherapist Sharlene. At the last session my hips were taped one more time, I was given cuing exercises for my transverse abs (which, to be honest, I still don’t totally get and can’t really figure out what the hell I’m doing), I’m a chronic knee-locker, and I was instructed to wear a looser bra and pants. My bra and pants were so tight that it was creating downward pressure and (likely) aggravating my prolapse, that was still very symptomatic even at 10 weeks postpartum. This new stuff was added to my existing homework. And I was cleared to baby wear for a maximum of an hour a day, only if it didn’t aggravate the prolapse.
I took my mombod out shopping, picked up some mom jeans that fit my body. And, holy shit, I noticed improvement last week at 12 weeks postpartum. No kidding. I went a WHOLE WEEK without crying about my prolapse and sad vagina. I actually went to our gym to walk on the track for an hour wearing my baby. I wasn’t going to walk on the track but I picked up a Fitbit and was invited to a work week challenge and, well, that’s pretty much game on as far as my competitive side is considered. So with a challenge issued I had no choice but to dry my eyes, get my ass out of the house, and kick some ass.
My prolapse is slightly more symptomatic right now than at the beginning of the week. But I’ve worn my baby every day, I’ve walked more than 10,000 steps every day, and I’ve started to use muscles that had gotten used to sleeping or sitting. Things haven’t gotten worse but even my more prolapsey days are better now than they were two weeks ago. And less prolapsey means fewer tears and fewer tears means something . . . but I’m too damn tired to know what that is.
Here are 5 things that might help your prolapse feel less symptomatic
1. Loose clothes and bras
If your pants or bra leaves indents in your skin, upsize. Buy a looser bra or invest in a bra extender. You can tell your bra is too tight if you take a deep breath, fully inflate your lungs, expand your rib cage, and that hurts or feels very restricted. Or if your boobs flow over the top of the cup or if your nipples are constantly falling out of your cups while you’re standing then your bra is too small. Most bra shops provide measurement services so ask and they’ll be thrilled to help. But you can do it yourself if you’re not comfortable with that.
2.Ditch the waist trainers, corsets, Spanx and shapewear
Okay, so let me level with you. You had a baby at some point in your life. Your body is forever changed and that’s totally okay. I get not loving where you’re at and wanting to reshape the lumps and bumps that come with a mombod. But if you have pelvic floor dysfunction and if you have a prolapse then this shit will make you more symptomatic.
As you create pressure internally, your organs and musculature have to be displaced somewhere, and that somewhere is usually down into the pelvic floor. And downwards displacement could mean an oopsiedaisy displacement of a bladder, uterus, rectum, whatever OR it could make all of those things worse.
I get why you want to use this stuff. Please don’t. If you’re struggling with loving your new body however many months or years postpartum, then consider joining the Health Habits Happy Moms movement on Facebook. You’ll find over 10,000 mamas in different stages of the journey to loving their bodies, many with prolapses and other pelvic floor dysfunction, who totally get you.
3. Pelvic floor and prolapse-friendly workouts
And while I’m talking about the Healthy Habits Happy Moms community, you need to cut out any prolapse-unfriendly workouts you’re doing. If you’re making PRs in your deadlifts then you need to back off slightly or completely – depending on what your pelvic floor physiotherapist is telling you.
The Healthy Habits Happy Moms coaches have developed a science-backed, evidence-based postnatal workout series that is designed as a starting point for moms with 13 month olds to 13 year olds. The postnatal workout series is pelvic floor safe and will help you with matching your breath to movement and may help alleviate some of your symptoms. Not all, but some.
If you’re extremely symptomatic then stop running and jumping, try some of the other tips here, visit a trained pelvic floor physiotherapist, and see if that gives you relief.
4. Raise your butt
Like, on a yoga block, foam roller, inversion table, a stack of pillows, or on the couch. The idea is that you take the downward movement off of your prolapse and help the muscles take a break. Mosey on over to Julie Wiebe’s page for a more detailed explanation.
5. Proper pooping
This is particularly relevant if you have a posterior prolapse. You need to eat and hydrate appropriately so that your poops look like the type 4 smooth ones on the Bristol Stool Form Scale. This type of poop places the least amount of pressure on your prolapse.
You also need to elevate your feet on a stool or a squatty potty. It will feel really bizarre to shit with your feet elevated but it will start to feel normal after a couple of weeks and you won’t be able to do it any other way. You want to minimize straining so that you don’t push or bear down, which can make existing prolapses more symptomatic or cause new ones.
Bonus Tip: The Hideaway Prolapse Panty
I have NEVER tried this product. I would never normally recommend it. But you might be sitting in a small northern town, a very remote or rural community, or somewhere in between but lack insurance coverage and the money to see a physiotherapist. If this is you, I am so, so sorry. That sucks. I am very passionate and vocal that all postpartum women be screened for pelvic floor dysfunction at their 6-week check up, and all women be screened for pelvic floor and sexual dysfunction at every single routine gynecologic exam and physical.
Having said that, I ridiculed this product on my Facebook page. I thought it was stupid and insulting. But I’m privileged. I come from a middle-income family where my spouse makes enough money that we can afford for me to pay for private pelvic floor physical therapy. I live in Canada, and our healthcare coverage is paid for by our home provinces.
But this product may work for you if your prolapse is hanging out of your vagina and you are unable to have your prolapse surgically fixed, pelvic floor physical therapy is out of reach for whatever reason, and you’ve tried online courses (yes, there’s some physical therapy online courses.)