A prolapse diagnosis can often leave you feeling frustrated, overwhelmed and devastated. In Australia, the way women receive their prolapse diagnosis often leaves them with a distinct lack of hope. More often than not, they will be given a long list of exercises to avoid along with the distinct feeling that their quality of life will be forever impacted.
Throughout June we are sharing inspiring stories of hope from women living with prolapse - and who are also doing incredible work to raise awareness of this condition.
Our first interview is with Jen Bull-Clearie. Founder of @pregnant_then_prolapsed
I'm Jen, I'm a mum of a three-year-old and a two-year-old and we live on the West coast of Scotland. I was diagnosed with prolapse in 2018 shortly after the birth of my son.
In the beginning, the prolapse was all-consuming. I didn't walk anywhere, I cried every day, I couldn't sleep and I struggled to eat due to extreme anxiety. I felt extremely left out of the mummy club. I wasn't doing the buggy fit and I struggled to hold much of a conversation. Over the years I have learned to navigate my symptoms and live a much more active life (albeit not asymptomatic life). Prolapse is an annoyance but it doesn't consume me and it certainly doesn't define me as a mum.
I went to a Physiotherapist, I also did therapy and pilates. To be totally honest one of the biggest turning points for me was probably having my daughter. I had an elective C-section and enjoyed a wonderful maternity leave. I still had the symptoms of prolapse but I was able to enjoy the newborn stage and it gave me a sense of peace that I had got to experience what I had lost with my son. I also found my 'tribe' on Instagram. A whole bunch of badass women with POP who are total idols to me. I got off Facebook forums which can be really upsetting and onto Instagram feeds with women mountain biking, lifting weights and running ultra marathons WITH POP!
A million times better than when I was first diagnosed. I go to a pilates class every week, I live beside the sea and walk regularly. I also talk about prolapse and refuse to be stigmatised by it. I have an Instagram account @pregnant_then_prolapsed that is an outlet for me which helps turn a lot of the hurt and frustration around the secrecy of prolapse into something positive.
What is one message you would share with someone who has just been diagnosed with POP?
Parent yourself. Take things one day at a time. Try to enjoy the things that aren't related to POP and know that none of us know what treatment options will be available in the future. If you want a boost, check out Caroline Gargett from the Hudson Institute's research into POP, it's pretty amazing!
I am passionate about it because I don't want anyone to feel the way I felt after having a baby. I believe my suffering would not have been half as bad as it was if I had been properly informed and supported in rehab after birth. I don't want new mums to feel kicked out of the mummy club and I want them to know I (and so many other women who are way cooler than me!) are rooting for them.
This Summer (in Scotland) I am doing a sponsored bike ride this summer to raise money for the Hudson Institute of Medical Research's Research into pelvic organ prolapse treatments -
You can donate or support at https://cycle.gofundraise.com.au/page/ strongwomenclub/
Download three free videos for either pregnancy or postpartum. Led by Women's Health Physio Lyz Evans + PT Kimmy Smith.