11 mo postpartum...43 yrs..seeking support/guidance


Hello all, I’m new and this is my first post. I’m sorry it’s so long but I want to include my full story. I guess I don’t have a specific question other than wanting support and general guidance. Please comment as you think appropriate.

I’m 43 and had my first (and only) baby at 42 y.o. (husband 47). He was the best surprise of our lives though totally unplanned. He’s 11 months old.

I went into the pregnancy very athletic/healthy. My pregnancy was easy but the birth was NOT. At the recommendation of my midwife, I took castor oil at 41 weeks + 2 days to induce. I labored in a birth center (WA state) until the point where I was over 4.5 hours (!!) into pushing (desperate pushing at the end..I ended up with lots of broken blood vessels in my face) and my baby just wasn’t coming out. Then, I was transferred to the hospital for an episiotomy (midline). My total labor/delivery lasted 19.5 hrs. My baby was healthy (born Aug 2014).

I was in great pain post-partum (PP), but since it was my first baby, I didn’t think it was abnormal given all the trauma of pushing + episiotomy. The *pressure* was intensely painful. Even at 2 weeks PP my instincts were telling me that something was not right. I felt there was some prolapse. The ARNP said no, “normal inflammation.” At 6 weeks PP the soreness r/t the episiotomy healing was subsiding but I was still feeling the intense pressure. I voiced my concerns to my midwives (at 5 wks and 7 wks) but they still felt I was within a normal healing timeline. My gut told me otherwise!

Normally being such an active person (hike, mtn bike, ski, rollerblade, weights, yoga, etc), I tried to be patient but I also tried to initiate slow walks and light exercises as well. For the most part, I found that I really couldn’t tolerate much. I backed off. The pressure was overwhelming and actually disturbing most of the time, even without the extra activity. I did not have any pain during sex, though...probably because my vagina felt super lax.

(I hadn’t yet found this site yet…) so during those months, I did a thousand Kegels, I tried yoni eggs, I tried a V2 Supporter. Not much seemed to help. My first PP period came at ~13 weeks and I noticed that I felt more supported when a tampon was in.

By Jan ’15-- 5 months PP--I was still feeling moderate pressure every waking moment, I felt like my vagina entry was “agape,” could see bulges and feel internally the same thing (especially anteriorly). I couldn’t move properly (in part because I was fearful) and I felt like I was always involuntarily holding my breath unnaturally in a futile attempt to somehow “brace” myself (but it didn’t ever seem to make a difference).

Being an Occupational Therapist, and being vaguely familiar with pessaries since I’ve worked in nursing homes for >20 years, I sought one from a GYN. I figured the tampon helped a little, so maybe the pessary would, too. He said my case was “not bad” (which didn’t really validate the severity of my symptoms, but it did give me some hope for eventual healing/improvement.) I tried the size 1 ring pessary with support membrane on/off for a few months. At first it seemed to help (it never took away my symptoms but it reduced the severity a bit)...but then it really didn’t help. It would descend and become uncomfortable. I didn’t go back to the doctor, but I pretty much stopped wearing it after May ’15.

Since I’m an OTR/L, I also took several on-line continuing education courses on pelvic floor rehab to try to make sure I was doing everything I could for myself. I never actually sought a PT for treatment. For a long time (even before i took classes), I really focused on pulling in my lower abs/transverse abdominus (basically doing the exact opposite posture that the WW approach recommends). Curiously, for so long that seemed to help little by little.. but, then again it never made me feel normal.

Basically up until this very week I got used to having better days and worse days, with a slight, gradual trend toward improvement. (So slight, so gradual-- if I graphed it, it would be a very volatile stock market trend!) Within a day I could feel "sort of okay" one hour and not so good the next. When I felt a little better, I had hope..but then I’d have moderate pressure and I’d feel despair. Roller coaster! Sometimes I just have to cry because it feels like a nightmare that won’t end. I never imagined this could happen from simply giving birth. Especially because I was so active and healthy. I’m generally a very positive, happy person and i focus on gratitude a lot. But I get down like anyone. Then I have to go back to focusing how it could be so much worse. Pick myself up again.

Every evening in the shower I insert my finger to “assess” myself and to correlate how I feel symptom-wise with how the internal parts feel objectively. For the most part, I can feel my cervix when my index finger is fully inside, but sometimes it’s a little lower. I can feel a bulge to a lesser or greater degree anteriorly in the vaginal wall. I can tell if I have contents in my rectum, and that bulge feeling changes with my digestion. (I should note that my healthy vegan diet gives me easy elimination and my diet is optimal in that way).

I do think I have mild cystocele and rectocele but I’m not a doctor. I also feel a tissue bulge/thickening somehow related to how my episiotomy stitching healed up (the internal lumpiness is midline and then I can feel a depression on either side if that makes any sense). That tissue thickness seems different than the rectocele component in other words.

I should mention that I’ve never dealt with any incontinence (bladder or bowel). That’s good. When I cough/laugh/sneeze/blow my nose, I don’t have any dribbling whatsoever. But those forceful exertions make really feel the pressure. I have to stop, hold myself together or even sit down if possible.

I just recently found this site and have made changes accordingly (my posture). I stopped pulling in my abs all the time, and stopped pulling my pelvis into a posterior tilt. I’ve been doing the breathing work, too. It all makes sense. I literally just started this change this week. Inexplicably, I’ve suddenly started to feel significantly better this week, too. (But technically I started feeling better before I'd done the WW stuff just mentioned. Odd? But I’m doing the WW work all the time now, regardless.)

I hope (as I type this) that this isn’t just one of my “better” times..only to get worse again and have my hopes dashed. I hope one day I’ll be normal again..healed! I am manifesting that every day. Even though I’m feeling better (this time going on a full week which feels amazing), I’m not feeling symptom-free yet. I do think I’m on the right track, especially since I found this site and this approach. I’m 11 months post partum. Someone here said it takes 2 years to fully heal from childbirth?

Finally, I thought for so long that my prolapse symptoms were caused by my horrific delivery with so many hours of pushing but I guess that’s not necessarily the case? I felt really traumatized by my birth. Ladies with shorter labors and shorter pushing phases also have the problem, though. Also..I thought my age played a big role. 42 and first baby. But..younger ladies have the same problems...

Anyway, I guess the last thing I’ll mention is that it can be really hard to lift and move my 20 lb baby without feeling like it strains my pelvic floor daily. He’s not getting any lighter! I’m using all my OT knowledge to try and limit the strain from lifting (i.e energy conservation type strategies). Obviously there’s no way to completely avoid the burden from lifting and moving him.

That’s all for now. Please encourage me, guide me, and if nothing else, please assure me that I’m not alone. Thanks!

Hi first time mama and welcome. It sounds to me like you have come to all the right conclusions based on your own research and experience. Everything in your post sounds common and normal to me. You have about another year of healing ahead of you, and quite possibly will continue to see improvement no matter what you do. But by starting the WW work in earnest while your body is still reverting, you have a huge advantage over us girls who eventually "healed" OK after childbirth, but never corrected their posture and habits and then got hit hard after menopause by the return of prolapse.

With regard to lifting and carrying your babe, please don't be afraid of that. Take care with lifting and hold the baby close to your body; if you are in excellent WW posture you can actually feel the dynamic of the extra weight-loading helping close and flatten the vagina against the encroaching organs. But this only works if the organs are held forward, with gravity, belly breathing and the weight of the "load" to help keep them there.

You're off to a great start! Keep us posted. - Surviving

Welcome FT Mama,
You are in the right place. Sounds like you have the garden variety prolapse so many of us have. This work will help so much but is is a journey and will take time with good and bad days.

I am 37 and got prolapse with my second, although I now know it was developing prior to my first.

Christine's book 'Saving the Whole Woman' is brilliant as is all the material so I highly recommend it. With your background and knowledge I am sure you would get so much out of it and quite frankly it would blow your mind what we have all been taught. You might find the hip info really interesting given your work in nursing homes.

This work is the best antidote to the fear of prolapse that we all go through.

Prolapse is with us for life but with this work we can really live again even if it is in a slightly different way than pre-prolapse.

I don't have much to add as I'm running out right now but also wanted to chime in to say welcome and that it's good to have you here. It's a wonderful forum and so supportive! I too identify with the slow slow improvement but I'd say it is telling that the greatest improvement you have noticed is in the last week since adopting the ww posture. I've been doing it since 4 weeks pp and my couch slouching days are a thing of the past.
Days will be good and bad as a and l says. I've just had a run of five good days in a row which is much more than I had in the beginning but after a day of cleaning and less than careful moving about I'm feeling it today! I second the advice to invest in the first aid for prolapse dvd as a starting point! I've just started the workouts and am finding them challenging but helpful already.
Ask any questions here and never feel like you have to apologise or worry about being graphic or oversharing - this is the home of the overshare!

Thanks, all! A few more things come to mind.

First, as I focus on my posture, sometimes I think I overdo the lumbar curve. In other words, isn't it best to be in more of a neutral spine rather than trying to exaggerate the curve? (I'd think so.) Sometimes I find myself exaggerating the lumbar curve/anterior pelvic tilt, and I wonder if that makes my anterior bulge/cystocele a bit worse. I can see how an exaggerated curve would totally help the posterior bulge/rectocele, but it seems like gravity would pull that anterior bulge down more if the lumbar curve is too forced. (Since it goes 'past' the bony wall of the pelvic bone in front). Does that make sense?

Second, is it not still smart to isometrically contract the abs and pelvic floor muscles regularly..just because they're muscles to use and not lose? I'm thinking of gentle squeezes while on my back (before going to sleep, in bed) and breathing in and out. Remember I'm a therapist and this is my background. I have always had a strong tummy but I want to be smart about how i keep muscles strong (without making my problem worse.)

Third, have any of you tried inversion? Based on gravity, I did try that a few nights for 10 minutes before bed. It seemed to help..maybe? I have a bench press bench and when its set for declines i can lie down on the bench on my back with head down and then bring legs up in the air vertical, propped against another piece of exercise equipment I have. I've read a bit about inversion and the beneficial effects on circulation, lymph return, etc. I don't have blood pressure issues. Curious what the opinions would be on this site.

And finally, another question floating around my mind is whether there is a cyclical improvement/worsening with the menstrual cycle. If so, I'd be interested to hear more. I'm not sure if I've noticed any patterns or not. Thanks again!

You have asked some legitimate questions but we don't use this forum to debate the merits of Christine's work. I'll post a few links here for you to do some research on your own.


More later - Surviving

In answer to a couple of your other questions - Yes, your symptoms will vary greatly with your menstrual cycle, and no, you do not need to exaggerate the lumber curvature. If you completely relax your belly, and lift your chest strongly, the curvature takes care of itself. - Surviving

The WW work aims to get the organs forward. They have fallen back, not down. So inversion might give you temporary relief but it will not improve your prolapse. I mean, how much time can we spend upside down?

As for kegels, if you want to continue them, you might want to "do the reading" first. I myself am a poster child for that cause, because I did them religiously for decades.

There probably isn't a topic that hasn't already been written about or discussed on this site at length, so feel free to use the search box on the home page and on the forum page. Happy reading! - Surviving

That's very helpful..thank you so much!

Another question. I’m now into the 2nd week of feeling significantly better. And it's a definite qualitative change in symptoms rather than just a decrease in severity of the "usual" symptoms. Instead of feeling the pressure/bulging “down low” (i.e. right near the vaginal opening and/or the space between the vaginal opening and my anus), I’m now more often feeling a different sensation much higher up-- near my clitoris and behind the pubic bone there. It’s almost like a mild period pain (but not really painful)..kind of like blood vessels are maybe more engorged a bit in the area..or just a noticeable energy there. My question is this: If the posture and breathing are causing real improvements in my body-- i.e. by helping shift my organs toward their proper position *behind* the bony support wall, then could i consider my new symptoms a phase of my improvement? It seems like it to me..maybe? Am I making sense? Feeling optimistic, anyway. This new sensation is 'better' than the other ones.

I know that many of us have commented before about pains and feelings like you describe when we start to have WW posture improving things. I don't have know that they were all in the same place or described quite the same way but things do shift around.

You have got the posture very quickly, it's takes many of us longer but we don't all have the knowledge you do.

You will love Christine's book.

You remind me of Sierra. She asked a lot of technical info when she first started as she was a PT with a lot of anatomy knowledge. She also saw improvements very quickly. Miss you Sierra, hope you are doing well.

Ok this is where I've decided to come and report on my process and progress. Hope that it's an appropriate use of this forum. It feels therapeutic anyway. Couple things today...
1) over a month ago, I went on a 2 mile hike with elevation gain and it was the first time i carried my 18lb (at the time) baby on my back, in our Ergo carrier. Going in to the hike, I was QUITE fearful of carrying his weight for that distance because since he was born, carrying him (in the front, in the house) always seemed to make me feel worse (even when he was newborn light). However-- i was pleasantly surprised that day when things didn't feel worse at all. I felt a little better in the day or 2 afterward, even. Back then I wasn't doing the WW posture yet, but just yesterday I realized that perhaps I was naturally going into more of the posture just because of the way i carried him on my back. I do recall noticing more of my lumbar curve that day. It was an "ah-ha" moment!!
2) I've decided to stop the madness of inserting my finger each day to "check" myself. As I feel improvement I just don't think it's a good idea to look for trouble. I don't want to "feel better" but then have the inside feeling make me question whether it really is better. If I feel better, that's all that really matters to me. I need to drop my OCD tendencies.
3) Finally, re: body image. I used to have a 4 pack abs if not a partial 6. I sucked and tucked all the time. Now- I long ago (i.e. shortly after baby came) I let go of the feeling/need to return to that. It's apparent to me that there are much more important things in life. But, what I've lately noticed is that my butt actually looks better when I'm in WW posture anyway. (My butt has always been my body part that I've thought needed the most work. My abs were my best feature.) I'm also tiny breasted so my chest looks better in WW posture too. I'm actually loving the relaxed belly and the freedom of it. For years I made such efforts to keep myself sucked in all the time...and that was work! I'm actually loving this. I know I still have an attractive belly without the 6 pack effect. I'm back at my pre-pregnancy weight anyway. I can be quite lean with my whole food plant dietary habits alone (virtually no sugar and processed grains).
4) I'm still working on figuring out how to safely (regarding the bulges) keep my upper body/shoulders strong with resistance exercises but I'm getting there. I used to use a pull up/chin up bar... roman chair..and dip bar for 3 examples, but i don't think those exercises would be wise?

Thanks for listening. Still encouraged...

I agree about the "checking"- you just feed your obsession and make yourself needlessly crazy, so yeah, you can cut that out. Soon enough you'll be able to tell where the bulge is without needing to use your fingers or a mirror, so just let it go. Your organs are always moving. At any given moment it doesn't matter where they are, because in a few minutes they are likely to be elsewhere.

You've made really, really good progress in a short time. Many of us struggled hard to let go of that suck-and-tuck habit and the physical and mental tension it represents. For me, once I crossed over a certain point, I felt like I had returned to my natural self. Somewhere in me was a distinct memory of a time when I held myself this way. I wish everyone could rediscover this freedom! - Surviving

WW posture has been a letting go and relaxation journey for me. Sounds like that is happening for you.

Re the elevated walk, I think many of us find walking up hill pulls things forward.

You will get much stronger abs with WW posture than when you had your 6 pack, but it really inspiring how you have made the transition to liking your WW body so quickly.

I don't do any work on my shoulders but I think just living in posture keeps everything strong. I wondered if you might find this too.

Flexibility is something I have to work on from years of gym work and shortening of muscles etc. WW is very much lengthening and strength that way. Christine is so strong and flexible.

Hi first time mama...
Firstly the exercises/machines you mentioned - I had a look at what people do and their posture is contrary to WW and they tuck in their hips, pull in their abdominals...

Christine's approach is holistic and her work involves the body from the toes to head!

Just the posture alone helps align the skeleton and restore upper body strength as we relearn how to sit with the strength of our torsos.

I have found that Christine's description of the strong shoulder girdle acting like a coat - hanger for the rest of the body to be supported by, is how I carry myself now.

If you search this site it has many helpful threads and you tube has some videos by Christine which explain some of the fundamentals.

Her DVDs, books or online program have comprehensive information along with her modified yoga.

I recommend them wholeheartedly as after more than 3 years on my WW journey, I will be forever grateful to Christine for her gift to women across the world.... the benefits I have and continue to discover are truly holistic....

Aussie Soul Sister

Number 1--
So today I went rollerblading for the first time since starting the WW approach. A-ha!!...I noticed that it's almost impossible to NOT do the perfect WW posture while rollerblading. Brilliant. Now I know why I always felt a bit better during/after rollerblading over the past months (we might go rollerblading several times per month on weekends).
Number 2--
Again I like the simplicity of this. I've started doing a 4 word mantra/reminder cues for myself throughout the day. It goes like this: "Breathe, Chest up, Belly soft, Arch." When I bend over for various reasons, I think to myself "Bend over, Butt out." I'm trying to whittle this down to the most simple way to approach my physical and mental healing over this. This is helping. I don't have to check myself with my finger, I don't have to look at myself with a mirror, I don't have to do kegels or worry that I never did enough of them. I don't have to keep tension in my muscles. Relax and breathe. (It's the breathing I need the most work on because I still find myself holding my breath more than I should). Again I feel a freedom with all this. Simplicity.
Thanks for listening.

Well, that is really cool. One of the best things about this work, is the way that it enables you to become a better and better expert at which common daily activities are good for prolapse, and which aren't. The goal is to make things prolapse-friendly if we can, and to try and avoid them if we can't. Newbies often ask which activities are good/bad, but the answer is always the same: it's not what we do, but how!

Tension and tightness in the belly, and the resulting effects on our breathing and posture, are things that are always lurking in our lives, waiting to strike. Awareness is the key! Keep up the great work and these epiphanies will continue coming your way. - Surviving

Today my goal is to stop this bad habit of pushing up with my fingers against my crotch 100x per day (I'm home with baby so I can get away with it). It's taking a lot of discipline to stop! Obviously doing that doesn't help my prolapse in any way but for the 2 second time period when I apply the compression it feels better. Yet this habit is becoming a little maddening. I need to stop. Today I'm starting my period so I feel much more swollen and the pressure is worse than normal. I'm trying to simply focus on the basics of posture and breathing. I'm looking at this as a form of mindfulness and discipline. Difficult, though!!

Hi first time mama,
I always have issues during and right after my period with worsening prolapse symptoms, but right after my period is done, I like to get in some good jiggling and firebreathing and everyhting rights itself again. Part of the progress with whole woman, especially if you have been doing it for awhile, you will notice that the backslides are less dramatic and more easily handled. Just takes time to build up to that level.

So my bulgy feeling is better (always there but not as bad), but now I'm having issues w pain where hip bone meets sacrum and along there where glute muscles attach to that area. In wondering if I'm perhaps exaggerating the lumbar curve too much? Especially in sitting. Maybe muscle spasm pain due to working muscles all day that were quiet before. Thoughts?

It is very common to overdo this work at first, and feel some mild soreness as your body gets used to things. But you need never over-accentuate the lumbar curve. It takes care of itself when you relax the belly and pull up the chest. - Surviving

Today I went hiking..almost 5 miles, including elevation gain. I noticed that I felt *much* better carrying my 20 lb baby on my back in the Ergo carrier. I can almost say that it felt better than just normal walking without weight and when I'm in my best WW posture! (Of course the opposite is true of any carrying of my baby in the front, even just for a few feet across my house and no matter how close to my body I try to hold him). I'm wondering if someone can explain why this is. It seems like it's more than just a matter of keeping the posture. Although I will say that it seemed like my lumbar curve was perhaps more exaggerated with the added load (but I wasn't trying to do that, it was just natural). Anyway, I felt very "supported." I didn't have zero symptoms (i never do) but it was pretty good! It really makes me want to figure out how I could achieve this at home, somehow. LOL !? Like walking around with a fanny pack somehow weighted in the back. Seriously it seems like it HELPS to walk with the weight in back. Thoughts??

I think it does make sense. When you are learning posture, a big load in the front can make it harder to lift the chest and relax the belly. With the load on the back, you are more free to do both of these things - the load is pulling things in the proper direction. Now, since babies grow and change daily, your challenge will be to keep up with this and find ways to carry in front, back or side while still keeping good posture. The weight itself is always a help, if you are standing correctly. Great progress mama - please keep experimenting and sharing! It's so very helplful for others to read! - Surviving

Hopefully it's not inappropriate to post this here, but I've started a new blog. It's called From Prolapse to Peace and it's about my continued journey of healing. My goal is to make a post daily and they'll be pretty short posts. We'll see how it goes. I've done 3 so far. Thanks for reading. I really appreciate having the community.

Yesterday I discovered Christine's article, Preventing Maternal Injury During Childbirth. Wow, it really spoke to me because when I pushed during childbirth I never ever felt the urge to push. I really think that played a big role in why I'm dealing with this issue now. I blogged about it today.


I too was coached through both births and did not once feel the urge to push...I remember thinking to myself with my first baby, 'Isnt it supposed to be a bit more natural or about instinct?' when my midwife was counting me down from ten and barking at me to "Get angry at the contractions!".
It's how they are taught maybe I don't know...definitely in the uk it is - get the baby out fast whatever the cost - to hell with how it happens.
I'm finding peace now after so many months of 'if only' but it has taken a long time to get here. Loved your blog post and your honesty. A nice piece of writing.

I've just read through all your other posts too. What a great idea to document like this. I enjoyed reading very much. As the mother of an almost one year old, many things resonate with me. Especially noticing being able to be more active these days. I'm never one hundred percent free of prolapse symptoms but so much more confident in my body!

Just got my package today and excited to dig in. I've been paranoid about exercising for fear of making myself worse. Now I'll have lots to do. Also glad to have the book (it took me a while to get around to ordering). So I may have more questions as I really fine tune the basics that I've learned up to this point.

It's kicking my butt! I think I've been walking around very stiffly for the year since my baby was born (and obviously pregnancy means inability to rotate spine, etc as well). I am really seeing how much I have to work on! I don't "get" that belly breathing move that she does toward the beginning in sitting, at all. Her belly is so mobile! I can't coordinate the "out and up on inhalation ... in and back on exhalation". It's going to take time for me to feel coordinated. Loving it though!

Ya, give it some time and don't overdo. Keep practicing that belly roll thingy, that one took me some time too! Although it can feel kind of strange and somewhat difficult at first, you do get used to the moves on this wonderful DVD. It's actually my favorite now for a really good all over body stretch!!

I've found that thong underwear makes me feel the most held together. Anyone else experience this? I like the Patagonia brand except they're not cheap ($22 per panty). (I haven't tried other brands, I just really like Patagonia for underwear.) I used to wear their Active Briefs exclusively, but I've found that I need the panty material right up against my crotch and the briefs don't give me that little bit more compressive sensation. It's a very thin panty, breathable so no issues with heat build up. I'm truly amazed at the difference it makes wearing thong vs brief.

I can see where thong underwear might work as a support garment of sorts - but no, I don't care for anything sticking up my crack. I'm thinking when you really train those organs forward in the belly, you might change your mind. - Surviving

Just read many of these posts - very informative and so nice to know of people with similar struggles. Don't have a lot of time to post but yes, the belly roll at start is had for me but I was thinking it was due to stomach muscle separation but sounds like you wouldn't have that first time mama so maybe I will get it through technique one day! Thank you for all your posts and everyone's replies - I will have a look at your blog too. I started off exaggerating lumber curve and it is now another body check I have to do as I do it naturally whereas I need to simply lift my chest.

Hey guys, just another update. Today was the first day of ski season for me for this year and I noticed such a BIG difference from last year at this time. I was so much worse off last year, and I wasn't doing WW posture back then. I was sucking and tucking like mad. Ugh! Today when I skied I noticed that Telemark skiing (the kind of downhill skiing I do) is a perfect exercise for prolapse! It's much like rollerblading, actually. It felt so good. I could go on and on, but I already blogged about it. I just wanted to pass on this little nugget of good news and feeling of great progress. I'm almost 16 months PP and life is good. Still improving little by little.

This is certainly great news, first time mama! I have great memories of downhill skiing myself, which I haven't done in over 25 years (for a few reasons that have nothing to do with prolapse) so I've often wondered how it would feel. I'm actually a little surprised that you braved it last year, so early in your PP healing......but on the other hand, glad that you did, so that you have this comparison. - Surviving