POP at 40 / Story at 50
I am 50 years old with three children.
I have had issues with a weak pelvic floor for years. When my kids were tiny, I did a few Kegel exercises, but never progressed on from that. When my youngest daughter was about 2 years old, we went camping and I joined in a softball game. The running caused great leaking and I ended up with soaked trousers. I still thought it was just my pelvic floor and still didn't get it checked out properly.
A few years later, I had mycoplasma pneumonia and coughed like crazy for three weeks, needing to wear a panty liner constantly as I was leaking so much. I still didn't think much of it...! Well, I realised it was bad, but I was still thinking ‘weak pelvic floor’.
A year later, I had two bad vaginal bleeds and the doctor thought it might have been due to a cervical polyp. I was put through the public health system to get it checked out. The day before the gynaecologist appointment the penny finally dropped, and I wondered if I actually had a bladder prolapse. I was right and was diagnosed with a mild to moderate prolapse.
It was recommended that I go to a pelvic health physiotherapist. I did not even know such a person existed! In all that time, all those early postpartum years, no-one ever told me to get myself checked out by a pelvic health physio.
In the meantime, I started massage therapy training. Doing this training was a big catalyst for change. I had always felt that I was 'collapsing in the middle' in my body, and indeed I was. My posture was terrible, my upper body was leaning forward, I had terrible forward head posture, and I felt really, really weak. I could not squat to save my life!
Through my learning I came across Katy Bowman and her article on why Kegels are so bad. That set off a lightbulb for me. I then found Dr Sarah Duvall and her postpartum corrective exercise programmes and everything she said made sense to me.
I started doing Sarah’s pelvic floor programme and that took me on a monumental journey into my body and the pelvic floor. Through exercises, my pelvic floor became much, much stronger. I learnt how to breathe functionally, in a way that strengthens my pelvic floor at the same time. I learnt how to squat, and more, and became stronger in every way. I can now run with minimal-to-no leaking!
I loved Sarah’s programmes so much that I decided to take her Postpartum Corrective Exercise Specialist course. I had become passionate about helping other women with prolapse and using my massage training to teach my clients about the pelvic floor and bring it into their awareness. I have turned my practice into one where I support women through pregnancy and on into postpartum, helping them to regain their strength and live a fuller life. Through this work, I can raise awareness of the pelvic floor, refer my clients to pelvic health physios if they need one, and generally help people to understand the essential role that the pelvic floor plays in our health.
It is not good enough that so many of us have no idea of the help and support that is out there. Anyone who suffers with a weakened, or overly tightened, pelvic floor needs to seek support. You owe it to yourself. Live a life free of worry from leaking! We deserve it!