Monday, October 15, 2012

International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day: October 15

Today is International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day. It is a day to remember babies and pregnancies that were lost in miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death. I can't tell you how important this day is to me and to many people I know.  I personally have experienced loss in this way and I have supported and loved people through these types of devestating loss. Losing a baby is life altering. My role as a doula has been a very joyful one, but I will always remember that my joy was born out of deep sorrow. Consider lighting a candle today in rememberence of babies lost. Join families all over the world in honoring their precious children.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Guest Post: Pelvic Organ Prolapse

The Basics of Pelvic Organ Prolapse
There was a time when women wouldn't think of discussing reproductive issues. The subject was taboo and even doctor visits, pregnancies and childbirth stories were considered hush-hush. Unfortunately, this cultural aversion has led to a generation of women who are largely uneducated about the anatomy and physiology of pelvic tissues and organs. As a result, pelvic organ prolapse (POP) — a condition that can largely be avoided and or mediated using conservative measures — is diagnosed in as many as 50 percent of women between the ages of 50 and 79. Preventing the onset or severity of POP symptoms can eliminate the need for risky surgical intervention. Women who learn about the condition can help spread the word to other women regarding how it can be prevented and/or treated.

What is Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
A woman's pelvis, as well as pelvic organs and tissues, are unique. It is designed to accommodate the growth of a baby during pregnancy and to help the baby emerge naturally when it is time to be born. However, this design is not without potential weakness. Pregnancy and childbirth do take a toll on these tissues, stretching and contracting to house and deliver a baby. Even the healthiest of women might find that their abdominal muscles, and pelvic tissues, are never quite the same after childbirth. If women, do not continue to focus on pelvic health through the postpartum period and beyond, or if they have other contributing factors such as obesity, smoking, pelvic injury and/or a family history of POP, these muscles can grow continually weaker and allow pelvic organ prolapse to develop. As women age, estrogen levels decrease, which causes further weakening of pelvic tissues. This is why  OP is usually diagnosed when women are closer to menopause. As the connective tissues  eaken,  elvic organs can start to shift out of place and descend toward the pelvic floor. In some cases, there  re no symptoms and women can use non-invasive methods to restore and maintain pelvic floor  trength. In other cases, the prolapse is so severe that organs will begin to collapse on the vagina, and/or tissue may even drop into the vaginal canal.

Symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse include:
  • The inability to insert, or retain, a tampon
  • A pulling or heavy sensation in the pelvis and/or lower back
  • Unusual spotting or bleeding
  • Incontinence and/or constipation
  • Pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse

Treatment for Pelvic Organ Prolapse

Unfortunately, one of the most common treatments for POP is a surgical procedure using transvaginal mesh implants. Bladder slings  have been linked to significant numbers of health complications, some of which are irreversible. Any woman diagnosed with POP should discuss non-invasive treatments or alternative surgical procedures with her doctor. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that unless a case of POP is severe, doctors should always use conservative treatment methods before suggesting surgical intervention.

Conservative treatments include:
  • Healthy lifestyle choices
  • Pelvic floor exercises
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Pelvic physical therapy
  • Pelvic massage
  • Vaginal pessary (a device that is inserted into the vagina to support pelvic organs)
Thousands of women have suffered from the complications of vaginal mesh use and have since  ought to file bladder sling lawsuits  against manufacturers of mesh products. The more educated women are about POP, the more likely they will be to focus on pelvic health and seek the safest and most effective treatment(s) for their symptoms.

Elizabeth Carrollton writes to inform the general public about defective medical devices and dangerous drugs for