Navigating pelvic prolapse after pregnancy

How internal pelvic release work can help

Pelvic prolapse is a common yet largely misunderstood condition that many women experience, especially after pregnancy and childbirth. As an experienced birthworker and perinatal bodyworker specialising in internal pelvic release work and pelvic alignment, I have seen first-hand how this condition can impact a woman’s physical and emotional wellbeing, at all ages and life stages. Fortunately, with a holistic approach to treatment, including internal pelvic release work and pelvic alignment, it is possible to improve pelvic floor function and correct pelvic prolapse in many cases, leading to a significant improvement in quality of life.

Understanding pelvic prolapse

Pelvic prolapse occurs when the muscles and tissues supporting the pelvic organs become weakened or disfunctional, causing one or more of these organs to drop or press into or even out of the vaginal canal.

Prolapse and pelvic floor disfunction can cause a wide range of other sympoms and complications, including pelvic pain, incontinence, urinary retention, constipation and painful intercourse.

We see an increase in pelvic prolapse after pregnancy because of the added weight and pressure of the pregnancy, hormonal changes and physical trauma resulting from childbirth or medical interventions, as well as misaligament of the pelvis and supporting ligaments, and strain and tension in the surrounding soft tissues.

There are several types of pelvic prolapse, including:

  1. Cystocele (Anterior Prolapse): This type involves the bladder bulging into the front wall of the vagina. It often leads to urinary retention, incontinence and frequent urinary tract infections.
  2. Rectocele (Posterior Prolapse): Here, the rectum protrudes into the back wall of the vagina, which can cause difficulties with bowel movements, including constipation, fecal incontience and a sensation of incomplete evacuation.
  3. Uterine Prolapse: This occurs when the uterus descends into the vaginal canal. Severe cases can cause the uterus to protrude outside the vagina.
  4. Enterocele: This is the prolapse of the small intestine into the pelvic cavity and pushes into the top of the vagina, which can lead to a feeling of pressure or fullness and contribute to back pain.
  5. Vaginal Vault Prolapse: This occurs when the top of the vagina loses its support and collapses into the vaginal canal.

Why does pelvic prolapse occur?

The primary causes of pelvic prolapse post-pregnancy are the strain and trauma that the pelvic floor muscles and ligaments endure during pregnancy and childbirth.

But there are several key factors that can contribute to pelvic prolapse after pregnancy:

  1. Pregnancy: The growing uterus and weight of the pregnancy puts pressure on the pelvic floor muscles, which can weaken them over time.
  2. Misalignment: Pregnancy can exacerbate misalignment in the pelvis, creating imbalance in the ligaments and soft tissues supporting the pelvic bowl. As a result, tension arises often on one side of the pelvis, creating disfunction in the pelvic floor muscles.
  3. Birth: Childbirth, especially if it’s prolonged or involves coached pushing, episiotomy, forceps, vacuum assistance or cord traction, can overstretch and injure the pelvic floor muscles, uterus, and connective tissues. Prolapse can also occur after caesarean births.
  4. Hormones: Pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding bring significant hormonal changes, which can weaken the pelvic floor tissues.
  5. Genetics: Some women have a genetic predisposition to weaker connective tissues, making them more susceptible to pelvic prolapse.

Prevalence of Pelvic Prolapse

Pelvic prolapse is more common than many people realise. Studies estimate that up to 50% of women will experience pelvic organ prolapse in their lifetime. Among these women, approximately 10-20% will seek surgical treatment for significant symptoms, but unfortunately the recurrence rate of pelvic organ prolapse after surgery is almost 40%. The risk of pelvic prolapse also increases with the number of childbirths, the age of the woman, and the presence of other risk factors such as obesity and chronic coughing.

The role of internal pelvic release work and pelvic alignment in treating prolapse after pregnancy

Both pregnancy and birth can result in injury, trauma, scarring or held tension in the pelvis, which can manifest as pain, numbness, weakness or pelvic organ prolapse. Internal pelvic release work can help to relieve tension in the pelvic ligaments and soft tissue, and restore balance to the pelvic structure, easing these common but often treatable postpartum discomforts.

Internal pelvic release work is a specialised form of therapeutic bodywork that combines external pelvic alignment and internal techniques involving gentle woman-led release of the muscles, fascia, and ligaments within the pelvic region. This work aims to release tension, improve blood flow, and enhance the function of the pelvic floor muscles.

Here’s how it can help:

  1. Restore Muscle Function: Internal pelvic release work helps re-establish proper muscle tone and coordination. By releasing tight and overworked muscles, we can activate and strengthen the weaker, underused muscles, promoting balanced pelvic floor function.
  2. Reduce Pain and Discomfort: Many women experience pain and discomfort due to prolapse, muscle imbalances and tension in the pelvic region. Internal release work alleviates these symptoms by addressing the root cause of the muscle tightness.
  3. Improve Pelvic Alignment: Misalignment of the pelvis can exacerbate prolapse symptoms. Through internal and external techniques, we can realign the pelvic bones, muscles and ligaments, providing better support and more space for the pelvic organs to return to the correct position.
  4. Enhance Tissue Elasticity and Blood Flow: Gentle manipulation and stretching of the pelvic tissues improves their elasticity and promotes better blood circulation. This enhanced circulation facilitates tissue healing and regeneration.
  5. Empower Women with Knowledge and Exercises: Part of my holistic approach involves educating women about their pelvic anatomy and sharing specific exercises and techniques to continue their healing journey at home. These exercises, combined with lifestyle modifications, can significantly support long-term pelvic health.

A holistic approach to healing

Addressing pelvic prolapse requires a comprehensive and individualised approach. In addition to internal pelvic release work and pelvic alignment, I often recommend complementary therapies and lifestyle changes, such as:

Body Balancing Exercises: Regularly practicing exercises and routines that promote balancing and alignment of the pelvis can help maintain and enhance muscle tone. Check our events listings for Body Balance for Pregnancy, Postpartum & Pelvic Floor and Mums and Bubs classes.

Proper Posture and Body Mechanics: Learning and maintaining good posture and proper body mechanics can prevent additional strain on the pelvic floor muscles.

Breath Awareness: Bringing awareness to the breath and diaphragm can prevent breath holding and shallow breathing which can worsen prolapse.

Massage and Bodywork: Regular bodywork combining massage, pelvic alignment and internal pelvic release work can help to maintain pelvic floor health.

Nutrition and Hydration: Adequate nutrition and hydration supports overall tissue health and can help prevent constipation, which can worsen prolapse symptoms.

Mind-Body Practices: Techniques such as yoga, pilates, and mindfulness meditation can enhance body awareness, reduce stress, and improve overall pelvic health.

Pelvic prolapse after pregnancy and childbirth is a challenging condition, but with the right therapeutic approach, it can be effectively managed and often reversed. Internal pelvic release work and pelvic alignment are powerful tools in restoring pelvic floor function and correcting prolapse. By addressing the underlying causes and empowering women with the knowledge and skills to support their pelvic health, we can help them regain their strength, confidence, and quality of life. My vision is to guide and support women on their journey to recovery and wellness, helping them navigate the complexities of pelvic prolapse with care and compassion.

As a perinatal bodyworker and birth educator, my role is to support birthing families in making informed and empowered decisions about their birth and wellbeing. As part of this process, I want to share the latest evidence-based information, statistics and treatment options on a wide range of health conditions. And pelvic prolapse is just one complication I’m seeing remarkable results with in my practice. If you’d like support for pelvic organ prolapse and pelvic floor health, I invite you to book a consultation for Internal Pelvic Release Work.