For most women, childbirth seems like the hardest part of the journey through pregnancy and the postpartum period. It is hard work, both physically and emotionally, to experience the process of pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood.
However, once the hard work and discomfort of childbirth has been forgotten, a woman's body is still working hard to heal and recover from the dramatic changes that have taken place. Connective tissues need to shrink and regain their strength, abdominal muscles slowly regain their tone, and organs that were dramatically affected by the enlarged uterus have to migrate to their original positions in the pelvic cavity.
If women are not careful to prioritize their physical and pelvic health in the long run, they can find themselves susceptible to a condition called Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP). In most cases, POP is diagnosed when women are nearing or experiencing menopause. However, in cases of pelvic injury
or trauma, it may be diagnosed earlier on.
Pregnancy and childbirth are the key factors in developing POP, however,
smoking, obesity, menopause and/or a genetic predisposition can also play a
role in its development. Attention to pelvic health during and after pregnancy can help women avoid developing POP, or keep its symptoms in the mild to moderate range.
Preventing Pelvic Organ Prolapse After Childbirth
There are several things women can do to prevent the onset of POP after
childbirth. While it's never too late to focus on pelvic health, the sooner
women act to prevent POP, the better.
• A healthy lifestyle
As mentioned above, smoking is a common factor in POP because chronic coughing puts undue strain on pelvic tissues. Women should try to quit smoking as soon as possible. Eating well, exercising regularly and maintaining a target weight can also help to keep pelvic tissues and organs healthy and strong.
• Pelvic floor exercises
There are specific exercises that can help women strengthen their pelvic floor and upper vaginal muscles. These can play an important part in postpartum recovery, in addition to staving off the symptoms of POP. Kegel exercises are the most famous type of pelvic floor exercises, but an OB-GYN or health care practitioner can suggest additional exercises.
• Pelvic physical therapy
Women who have experienced a traumatic vaginal birth, or who have a family history of pelvic organ prolapse, may want to consider seeing a pelvic physical therapist. The therapist can suggest additional exercises, utilize electrical stimulation if necessary, and suggest other lifestyle changes that can help promote pelvic health.
• Pelvic massage
Postpartum and/or pelvic massages have been shown to be effective when
used in conjunction with other preventative measures. Maya massage, Shiatsu and Myofascial Release are massage techniques that can realign pelvic organs, increase circulation and facilitate postpartum healing.
These preventative measures can also be used as conservative treatment options for women diagnosed with POP. Many established medical organizations advise that women use the most non-invasive and
conservative methods for treating POP symptoms, before turning to surgical intervention.
If postpartum women are proactive in maintaining a healthy and strong pelvic floor, they will be less likely to develop POP or require surgical treatments. That's good news, since one popular surgical treatment — using transvaginal mesh implants — has proven to have a high rate of complications.
In fact, there have been several vaginal mesh recalls after reports of problems.
Elizabeth Carrollton writes to inform the general public about defective
medical devices and dangerous drugs for Drugwatch.com.