Let’s dive into a topic that many postpartum women may find themselves contemplating: the connection between breastfeeding and pelvic organ prolapse. We’ll also explore some insights from a notable study by Iris et al. in 2020 and discuss what might help improve symptoms for those experiencing pelvic organ prolapse.
First things first, what exactly is pelvic organ prolapse? Well, it’s a common issue that many women face after childbirth. This occurs when the pelvic floor muscles weaken, leading to organs like the bladder, uterus, or rectum descending into the vaginal canal. It can be uncomfortable and, at times, affect a woman’s quality of life.
Now, the big question: does stopping breastfeeding have any impact on pelvic organ prolapse symptoms? In 2020, Iris et al. conducted a study that aimed to shed light on this very topic. The research explored the potential correlation between breastfeeding and the severity of pelvic organ prolapse symptoms. The findings showed NO significant difference in recovery of pelvic floor symptoms between those who breastfed and those who didn’t.
It’s crucial to note that the relationship between breastfeeding and pelvic organ prolapse is complex. Hormonal changes during breastfeeding MAY affect connective tissues and muscles, potentially influencing pelvic floor health. But, more research is needed to establish a concrete any cause-and-effect relationship.
So, if you find yourself pondering whether to continue breastfeeding in light of pelvic organ prolapse symptoms, consider having an open conversation with your healthcare provider. They can provide personalised guidance based on your specific situation and your desires and goals around breastfeeding.
What does help improve pelvic organ prolapse symptoms?
- Pelvic Floor Rehab – either with a pelvic floor physio or alternately a movement based programme such as LIFTED! This is an 8 week online rehab programme for prolapse. It includes pelvic floor education (in itself this can help improve symptoms!) as well as gentle workouts.
- Kegel Exercises: These exercises, which involve contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles, are known to be effective in strengthening the pelvic floor. In the case of a overactive or tightness in the pelvic floor, your physio will be able to suggest whether these are appropriate for you
- Supportive Devices: In some cases, healthcare providers may recommend supportive devices, such as pessaries, to help alleviate symptoms.
Also, see blog on 5 ways to improve postpartum prolapse for specific ideas.
In conclusion, the relationship between breastfeeding and pelvic organ prolapse is an intriguing area of study, and the 2020 research by Iris et al. adds valuable insights to the conversation. While the jury is still out on a definitive link, what matters most is finding the right solutions for your journey. Whether it’s continuing breastfeeding or exploring other avenues, the key is to prioritise your health and well-being.
Beth Davies is a highly experienced personal trainer and coach specialising in female pelvic health, pelvic organ prolapse and exercise. Her programmes educate, empower and support women back to training or their active life, eliminating symptoms and building strength and confidence. She has been featured in publications such as Stylist, Marie Claire UK, Woman & Home, and Metro