Prolapse during pregnancy or after delivering a baby is one of the scariest and least understood diagnoses women receive.
It can be frightening to discover your organs have prolapsed, and many women feel particularly broken or vulnerable after receiving this diagnosis. It can make everyday activities, like exercise and sex, feel daunting, resulting in low self-confidence or boosted levels of stress.
Many women who suffer from prolapse are told that surgery is their only option—but that’s not true. We’re here to share some information about prolapse and bust some common myths about prolapse so that you can feel confident about your body and your health.
What Is Prolapse?
Prolapse describes when your organs sag or droop out of their normal position from experiencing too much force. It’s not uncommon for women to experience uterine prolapse during pregnancy and after childbirth.
There are four grades of prolapse, based on severity:
- Grade #1: The organs are slightly lower than they are supposed to be.
- Grade #2: There is a moderate shift in the organs.
- Grade #3: The uterine tissues are at the edge of the vagina.
- Grade #4: The uterine tissue is visible outside the vaginal canal.
Primary Causes of Prolapse During Pregnancy
Now that we know what prolapse is—what causes prolapse? Here are the five main reasons you may experience prolapse during your pregnancy:
- Family History—If other women in your family have experienced prolapse during their pregnancy, this can increase your chances of prolapse.
- Obesity—Since your pelvic floor already bears the weight of your internal organs, any added weight can increase your chance of prolapse.
- Delivery—If you’re pushing for an extended period or your body isn’t in a great position, these factors can contribute to prolapse.
- Chronic Cough—Coughing can put extra strain on your organs and tissues, creating a greater likelihood of prolapse.
- Chronic Constipation—Constipation is the leading cause of prolapse during pregnancy. Read our blog to learn how to prevent constipation during pregnancy.
Common Myths About Prolapse During Pregnancy
You may be worried about prolapsing during your pregnancy, or if you’ve been diagnosed with prolapse, you may be overwhelmed deciding what to do next. We want to put your mind at ease by sharing these common myths about prolapse during pregnancy:
1. Prolapse is caused by prolonged labor.
While long and difficult labor can be problematic and may cause strain on your body, the primary cause of prolapse during childbirth is extended periods of pushing and delivery. It’s a myth that long labor will always result in prolapse.
2. C-sections prevent prolapse.
C-sections can help you avoid the strain of pushing, but this doesn’t mean you’re entirely “in the clear” for prolapse.
Prolapse can be caused by the strain your growing baby places on your tissues or organs. As we mentioned earlier, constipation is the leading cause of prolapse, which can happen to all women, regardless of how they deliver their baby.
3. When you have more babies, you’ll be more likely to prolapse.
Some women struggle with prolapse, and other women don’t. There is no research to suggest that having more babies will result in a higher likelihood of prolapse.
4. Surgery (or doing nothing) is the only option to fix prolapse.
Surgery is not your only option to treat prolapse, and if you don’t want to get surgery, you don’t have to live with prolapse and hope it gets better with time.
While you can insert a pessary in your vagina (a prosthetic device supporting the uterus) we recommend seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist. Pelvic floor physical therapy can help you balance your tissue tension, strengthen the core and pelvic floor muscles, and gain confidence in your body again, so you can resume working out, having sex, and performing other active tasks you were able to do easily before prolapsing.
5. Your symptoms during pregnancy will be the same after delivery.
If you have symptoms of prolapse during pregnancy, you may not have any issues with prolapse after pregnancy. Your body will begin to heal after delivery, and if you take care of your body after pregnancy, you’ll be less likely to experience prolapse post-pregnancy.
How Should I Handle a Prolapse of the Uterus During Pregnancy?
Learning deep breathing techniques, avoiding constipation, and working with a pelvic floor physical therapist are the three best ways to prevent prolapse during pregnancy.
If your organs have already started to prolapse, it’s crucial to improve your pelvic floor function with physical therapy. Pelvic floor physical therapy can help reduce the strain on the tissues to prevent the worsening of the prolapse.
Pelvic floor physical therapy is by far one of the best ways to treat prolapse—the other options available are surgery, inserting a pessary into the vagina, or doing nothing and hoping the prolapse improves with time.
Can I Have Another Baby with a Prolapse?
Yes, you can absolutely have another baby with a prolapse.
While there may be situations where it’s not ideal, no evidence suggests having a baby will worsen your prolapse. We recommend pelvic floor treatment before getting pregnant again to engage and strengthen your pelvic floor. Our team can also help you develop suitable strategies for positioning during delivery.
Treat Pregnancy-Related Prolapse with Moment of Truth Physical Therapy
Moment of Truth Physical Therapy can help you treat prolapse during or after pregnancy with pelvic floor therapy at our office in Peoria, Arizona. Contact us to set up your free discovery session, so you can begin to treat your prolapse and feel confident about your health, body, and mobility again.