My prolapse and diastasis recti journey and how I recovered…
I’ve always been an active (“fit”) person. From the moment I was old enough to walk I was playing every sport I could, trying to keep up with my older brothers. Competition, and activity was a HUGE part of who I was (and it still is). It also helped me with my anxiety, and my stress levels.
Throughout my entire pregnancy, I worked out hard. I worked out just as a had prior to being pregnant. I remember people applauding me at the gym because I was still doing pushups till the day I delivered. I knew NOTHING about the pelvic floor, I knew NOTHING about the importance of working out effectively.
I delivered my son May 31st, 2015. It was a hard, long delivery and we almost lost him. I won’t get into too many details, but I had an episiotomy, and the forceps were used. I had a 3rd degree tear. I remember after we had him I kept asking the doctors why I felt so horrible? Why I couldn’t sit? Why my tailbone was out of place? No one had answers, everyone brushed me off. I must say ONE amazing nurse came by and told me if I had a 3rd degree tear that I MUST see a pelvic floor pt. I wish I knew who that nurse was, because I would run and hug her and tell her how much I appreciated her suggestion.
Fast forward to six weeks postpartum… I had NOT seen a pelvic floor pt yet. I saw my doctor and she said I was fine to go back to my original workouts. I WAS SHOCKED. I definitely didn’t feel fine. But she checked me internally and I was fine. I inquired and asked, “So does this mean I can lift 40-50 pounds?” And she agreed it would be ok. (I want everyone to know that this doctor is amazing at what she does, Delivering babies, and I DO NOT blame her for my prolapse at all. I think doctors are damn good at what they do, and I think they want to do whats best. I just think that there is a huge disconnect & lack of education between pelvic floor pts, fitness professionals, and doctors).
At 2.5 months postpartum I decided to go to physical therapy because I knew I still didn’t feel that great. I went and she said I needed time to heal and that I should take it easy and stop activity (She also mentioned that I had a 3 finger space ab separation). I was told I could swim or walk. She helped me with breathing techniques, posture, transverse abs, and kegels etc. I learned a lot. BUT ME BEING ME, I ignored her suggestions completely and continued working out as I had been because my doctor told me it was ok. And I thought my doctor would know more than a pelvic floor pt.
…5 months postpartum I ended up with a prolapse. I remember being in the shower and feeling heavy down below and I remember feeling two bulges. I instantly started panicking and crying. I cried for my husband and told him something was wrong. “What is this? What is happening?” I remember he said that it didn’t look right. My doctor was always so booked up, so I called everyday crying…asking them to please get me in for an appointment. Finally they got me in, and it was confirmed, I had a grade 1 front & back prolapse.
I remember feeling disgusted with myself and hating my body. The tears were running down my face and I felt dizzy. All I could hear was, “You can’t do this, you can’t do that, be careful with this, be careful with that, it usually only happens to women in their 70s.” I BECAME DEPRESSED. I cried every night. Who would I be without my exercise? It was a huge part of who I was. How would I be able to control my anxiety? Exercise was a huge part of my emotional well being. I felt unattractive, I felt handicapped, I felt angry with my body for doing this. I felt jealous of others, and I felt hate. I wanted to give up and for a period of time I did give up. I was in a dark place, my negative thoughts were snowballing, and I struggled to see anything positive.
Then my life changed when I was 10 months pp and my husband said to me, “Why don’t you just love yourself as you are? And focus on the positives?” I looked over at our son after months of being “checked out” and thought, “If I can’t do this for myself, then I will do this for him.” I decided to start an Instagram account to share my prolapse journey, to focus on my positives in my healing journey, and to share the information that I had learned in pelvic floor pt. I wanted to find others like me, to know that I wasn’t alone. I was scared as hell to put myself out there, but after feeling my depression, I wanted to find a tribe, a prolapse tribe, who could support each other. I slowly started adding in more exercises with the encouragement of my pt, but at 10 months pp, I still wasn’t satisfied with my limited movement.
That’s when I found Jennifer Campbell (my idol) on social media, referred to me by a friend. I spoke with her briefly and she recommended Julie Wiebe’s course, which changed my life. (Julie is my biggest inspiration and she will never ever know how much she has helped me because I couldn’t possibly thank her enough. She saved my life). Julie’s program took my learning in pelvic floor pt further. Her program taught me how to implement what I learned in pelvic floor pt into my everyday movements. I was no longer afraid to move, but I was encouraged to move. And you know what? The more I exercised and practiced my breathing & posture, the less symptoms I felt. Honestly, limiting my range of motion and exercise made my symptoms worse. Her program encouraged me to stay positive and to get out and move. I learned not to fear.
Through her program I learned that I needed to implement neutral posture often. (Before her program I was only practicing neutral posture in stationary movements like standing, or sitting still. What I know now is that we rarely stay still as mothers and we need to learn to use neutral posture in various movements). I learned that neutral posture was a range, I didn’t have to be perfect. Her videos gave me the tools I needed to understand how to use neutral posture. I started using neutral posture when I was driving, when I was laying down, when I was doing laundry. I literally started practicing 2 minutes a day, then it was 3 minutes a day, and then it became second nature. I didn’t give up. Julie’s program also helped me implement my breathing patterns in my everyday activities. I started using the piston breathing when I would pick up my son, pick up groceries, clean, exercise etc. BEFORE this I was just practicing my breathing and posture while siting or standing. I was NOT practicing my breathing and posture in my everyday activities. I TRULY BELIEVE THAT I RECOVERED FROM A PROLAPSE BECAUSE I IMPLEMENTED NEUTRAL POSTURE AND PISTON BREATHING INTO MY EVERYDAY ACTIVITIES. IT IS NOW SECOND NATURE.
Now at 21 months postpartum I have ZERO prolapse. I honestly never thought this day would come. I was told by multiple medical professionals that it is impossible to reverse. I look back at my 10 months pp self and think about how proud I am that I never gave up. If I gave up, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I would have stayed in a dark negative depression. I learned in these last two years, that accepting myself as I am has helped me heal emotionally and physically. I stopped judging myself, I started loving myself. When I started loving myself, I started taking care of myself and putting myself first. Please, I beg of you. Do not give up. You are not alone. There is hope. Trust me.
Overall these are the things that I believed helped me recover:
BIGGEST ADVICE: Do not google. Google sucks balls.
- Seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist is a MUST(Choose one you trust and feel comfortable with. Ask around for someone who is reputable).
- Julie Wiebe’s program (I did the pro piston package, but you can do the individualized piston program because it’s cheaper)
- Exercising! Movement. We are doing squats, deadlifts, lunges all day long when we are running after our children, picking them up, cleaning, taking out the garbage etc. So practicing these movements with neutral posture and piston breathing, decreased my symptoms. It’s almost as if I was training my body and then my body naturally knew how to respond when I would clean or pick my son up. I started to naturally implement better posture and breathing in my everyday activities.
- Self love, accepting my situation instead of fighting it, and focusing on the positives.
Piston Breathing: Learning to inhale properly by inhaling into my ribs and belly while relaxing my pelvic floor. It took me a while to understand piston breathing, but I watched Julie’s videos over and over and then it clicked. Relaxing my pelvic floor was important on the inhale breathe, because on the exhale my pelvic floor contraction was much stronger. I also had a fairly tight pelvic floor, which most of us do.
- NOT gripping my abs. I was a huge belly sucker inner, I wanted to always look slimmer than I was. This was putting so much pressure on my pelvic floor. So I stopped sucking my belly in and accepted the fact that bellies are meant to be soft and it’s just a belly, who cares. If I wanted to help my core system work properly, then I needed to relax my ab muscles.
- Neutral posture. Honestly, I think of neutral posture like a house. In order for our house to function at its best, we need to have sturdy walls. If our walls start caving in and warping, we start to have problems. This is similar to neutral posture. I try to remind myself that posture is just as important for our core system as walls are for a house.
- To not criticize myself if I didn’t piston breathe enough or use neutral posture enough one day. I tried to think about the positives and I tried to remind myself that something is better than nothing.
Link to Julie Wiebe’s program: https://www.e-junkie.com/ecom/gb.php?ii=1311524&cl=257000&c=ib&aff=323995