If you are managing pelvic organ prolapse after birth, there’s a lot you can do to manage your symptoms during exercise or everyday activities.
But sometimes, sometimes you just need sweet relief.
In this post, I’ll share 3 positions that are fantastic for relieving pelvic pressure or heaviness associated with postpartum pelvic organ prolapse.
What Are The Symptoms Of Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
Pelvic organ prolapse, sometimes lovingly called POP, can cause pain or discomfort that can manifest in a few ways.
Most frequently, people with POP will report pressure, heaviness or dragging in their vagina. Often it feels like a tampon is falling out.
Some folks will report painful intercourse. Occasionally it can cause incomplete emptying of bladder or bowels.
If you’re adventurous, you might take a peek and actually see a bulge at the vaginal opening.
What Causes Postpartum Prolapse?
Prolapse occurs when the support offered by the pelvic floor is compromised. When pelvic floor support is compromised, one or more of the pelvic organs (bladder, uterus or rectum) can bulge into the vaginal wall, causing it to droop.
Pelvic floor support can be compromised in two different ways:
1) Pelvic floor support structures (fascia, connective tissue) can be mechanically damaged by traumatic events (such as childbearing).
They can also be damaged by chronic exposure to downward pressure into the pelvis, such as might occur during pregnancy.
2) Pelvic organs may also be displaced in response to downward pressure resulting from mismanagement of intra-abdominal pressure.
Intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) refers to the pressure which develops in your abdomen to stabilize your spine and torso. It’s normal and natural but sometimes the way your body deals with it can be disrupted.
When everything is working properly, your core muscles, which which include your pelvic floor, should contract in response to spikes in IAP that occur when you cough, sneeze or perform physical work. In this case, your pelvic floor is essential meeting and matching downward pressure. IAP is being managed.
If your body is mis-managing !AP, your pelvic floor will yield to the pressure. It doesn’t manage it. This can also lead to pelvic organs bulging into the vaginal wall.
If this mis-management is temporary, it can be conservatively treated by addressing the way you align your body, breathe and move.
If this mis-management goes on for a long time, it can lead to mechanical damage that is harder to reverse but can be managed once addressed.
What Aggravates A Prolapse?
Since, at it’s core, prolapse is a pressure management problem, activities that cause spikes in IAP tend to aggravate POP symptoms. Coughing, sneezing and jumping can trigger symptoms if you don’t have strategies in place to manage the pressure caused by those actions. You might also find that lifting heavy objects or holding stuff overhead can be triggering. You can learn to manage all of these triggers.
Pelvic Floor Physical Therapists Offer Gold-Standard Treatment For POP
Pelvic physical therapists offer gold-standard, conservative treatment of prolapse. While surgery may be a solution for a small number of people with prolapse, many people will be able to successfully manage their symptoms by learning to align their body differently, breathe more optimally and control their IAP during movements. Pelvic floor PTs can help you implement these strategies.
Once you have a diagnosis of prolapse, a postnatal personal trainer can complement your PT by helping you return to your sports, fitness classes or activities of daily living while managing your symptoms.
3 Positions To Help You Find Prolapse Relief
Since prolapse is a pressure management problem, you need to displace pressure to find relief..
All of the following positions take advantage of gravity to help relieve downward pressure on your pelvic floor.
1) Supported glute bridge
Lay on your back with your knees bent. Raise your hips into a glute bridge position. Place a block or a pillow under your bum so that you can relax your glutes and pelvic floor muscles. This is not an exercise, it’s a release.
2) Happy baby pose
Set up by lying on your back. Pull your knees towards your chest, keeping your knees bent at 90 degrees. The bottoms of your feet will be facing the ceiling. Take hold of your feet, inside or outside, whichever is more comfortable. Let your knees spread apart.
The full happy baby position can be a little aggressive if you’re dealing with any tightness. To make this position more relaxing, hold your legs behind your thighs instead of up at your feet.
3) Legs and knees at 90/90
Lay on your back and elevate your feet on a chair or bench. Position yourself so that your knees and hips are at 90 degrees.
Really simple. Hang out, breathe, read a book.
Bonus Tip: Elevate it!
To get even more relief from Happy Baby and 90/90, you can also elevate your pelvis on a wedge or a pillow (see below).
Give these a try!
Scroll to the bottom of the page and leave me a comment letting me know which position helps you out!! 🦋
A user manual for your pelvic floor👇🏽👇🏽.
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My mission is to make sure that having a baby is not a reason why you can’t do all the things.
I offer customized, online pregnancy and postpartum personal training to folks locally (Seattle-area, Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland) and beyond.
Laura Jawad holds a PhD and a personal training certification (NASM). She’s a proud Certified Prenatal & Postnatal Coach and Pregnancy & Postpartum Athleticism Coach. You can check out the rest of her alphabet soup here.