Have you ever went running, especially downhill and realized that there was no stopping your bladder from leaking, causing urine to dribble into your running shorts? Have you ever jumped on a trampoline and had to get off immediately for fear of peeing all over yourself? Do you have problems with jumping jacks or jump ropes, for fear of bladder leakage? Yup, that’s me. Women joke about it, laughing that they can’t run without peeing on themselves. Guess what? It’s called stress incontinence and I’ve had it since I was a kid.
I thought it was weird that it was happening, but always peed on myself a little bit when I ran or jumped, so I didn’t really talk about it much. I played basketball growing up and I remember before every game, I would go to the bathroom probably five times before a game, trying to get every last drop of pee out of me so that I wouldn’t get the urge to go while playing. That was my normal, but I didn’t realize it wasn’t normal for others.
Now, I’ve had three kids. Three awesome little boys that weighed at birth: 8 lbs 12 oz, 8 lbs 14 oz and 8 lbs 5 oz. All pretty good size kids and I have been nursing continuously now for almost five years. I’ve also had lots of issues with my sacrum going out of place at various times, extremely sensitive trigger points throughout my glutes, lower back, hips. My most recent blood work in January showed my Vitamin D levels were a 23, very low. I also have really crappy posture, probably from sitting in office chairs, cars and on couches. I tuck my hips in an attempt to make my stomach look smaller. You’re probably wondering how this correlates to the peeing thing? Well, I think they are all connected and that is why I’m experiencing some mild bladder prolapse issues in this postpartum period.
Prolapse? What’s that? I had vaguely heard about prolapse before this most recent birth. A friend had told me about her complete bladder prolapse and I remember it freaking me out a bit. About ten days after having Grant, I noticed things felt a little weird, like I was wearing a tampon. I of course visited Dr. Google that evening and figured I had the beginnings of a bladder prolapse, also known as a cystocele. I called my midwife that evening and the next day she came and checked me out. You can read the whole long blog post about that here and more here.
I’ve been doing a ton of reading about cystoceles, and prolapses in general. I find it very interesting that in this country, no one talks about postpartum health. In France, women have a standard of postpartum care that includes physical therapy for the vagina and retraining the pelvic floor. You can read more about it here. I’m disheartened that in the United States, once a woman has a baby she maybe gets a six week postpartum check up, that’s it! There is no retraining of the pelvic floor muscles, no acknowledgement that things might need some help getting back into place.
From Web MD.
I found a great forum called Prolapse Health. It’s been a great to read other people’s stories. My prolapse is very minimal when I read what some of these women are going through. However, when I started reading about prolapse, I was very discouraged and fearful that my body was falling apart at 31. After reading more and finding a few other websites, I know I will be better but I will have a lifetime of maintenance. So, I continue to read and work on my plan for recovering and rehabilitating my pelvic floor.
I purchased the Hab-It DVD. It was created by Tasha Mulligan, a physical therapist, triathlete and mother of three children. She experienced her first prolapse after the birth of her first child. She has been able to strengthen her body afterward so that she can get back to her activities. I really like the DVD and feel better after I’ve done the workouts. It is not just about doing kegels. Everyone keeps telling me, just do your kegels, that’s all you need to do. No it isn’t! There is so much more going on here. I have to strengthen the entire pelvic basket. My midwife thinks that the tear I haven’t had repaired will cause my pelvic floor to remain weak, but I’m not so sure. Most of the women I’ve read about, have had their tears repaired and they are still suffering from various types of prolapses.
Another website that I’ve frequented is Katy Bowman’s Aligned and Well. You may have seen a interview about her on why you shouldn’t do kegels. I kind of disagree on not doing any kegels, but I do think they are over prescribed. In the Hypnobabies class I teach, we tell women to do up to 150 kegels a day and do squats. I think that is too many after learning more about the pelvic floor. I can do a kegel, even when standing up and have pretty decent strength in tightening, but I think that in my lifetime, I haven’t done enough squatting to strengthen the whole pelvic hammock.
I’ve also started taking Green Pastures Cod Liver Oil in the hopes that I can get more Vitamin D into my body when I don’t get out into the sun. There have been some studies on pelvic floor health and low vitamin D levels.
I’ve been to an acupuncturist to help with the heaviness feeling. I’ve used moxabustion for the prolapse and I’ve also started to take some Chinese herbs to help.
The only thing, I’m not able to do much about it the estrogen levels in my body. Did you know that when your estrogen levels are suppressed by breastfeeding or decreased when you go through menopause, that your vaginal walls become more relaxed? This can also be a reason why it feels like a tampon is residing in your vagina. I could do some type of bioidentical estrogen cream, like Estrace, but I do not really want to do that at them moment. It makes me laugh just a bit inside that breastfeeding helps reduce my cancer risk because the estrogen is suppressed, but then ups my risk of prolapse because my estrogen is suppressed.
Any woman is susceptible to a prolapse, whether you’ve had a vaginal birth, c-section or even if you’ve never been pregnant. Some women will never experience any issues with this at all, you just don’t know. For me, I think that a prolapse was inevitable. When you have stress incontinence as a nine year old, that is an early sign that I was going to have pelvic floor issues. I’ve had crappy posture my entire life and learning to stand up straight and have a neutral spine at 31, almost 32 is fun! I constantly find my hips tucked and have to stand up straighter or sit more upright. No wonder I have so many lower back issues and maybe this is also the source of my IT Band problems when running.
I expect that I will recover from this mild prolapse in time, but I wanted to share what I have learned in case someone else is suffering silently, too afraid to ask someone if they too are having these problems.