Before I begin, I want you to know that my intention is not to put any kind of blame on you or the midwives involved on the day my beautiful girl was born. I chose to be on the midwife program at a public hospital and my midwife wasn’t working the day my baby decided to make her way into the world and that’s just the way it is.

I am writing this because I feel it is important that you know. It’s over 2 years now since my motherhood journey began and along the way, as you know, I have experienced some significant challenges after the forceps delivery and subsequent tearing. I felt compelled to write having recently heard of another woman’s experience at the same hospital where I had my daughter.

The woman who was, like me, desperate for a ‘natural’ birth faced the same forceps or c-section decision and, having been given her options and told about the risk of prolapse and incontinence, she opted for a c-section. I found myself wondering again whether, had I been informed of the risks, I would have chosen the latter. The answer isn’t 100% yes. I mean, it wasn’t until my girl was 16 months old that I truly discovered what a prolapse is!

While we all did the best we could with what we knew at the time, there are still moments when I fleetingly wonder how different it may have been had my midwife been on duty that day, had I been better informed about the risks of forceps deliveries and had I not been in labour for 19 hours, awake for about 48 hours and completely out of it. What I do know is that I can’t keep looking back, or forward. All the matters is what I do with my knowledge now.

When I found out I was pregnant, I was training for a fitness competition, fitness was my life. I think every time we met in the subsequent months after the delivery I quizzed you about the types of exercise I could do, I was so desperate to get back to lifting weights and working out in my sweat ridden gym.

I have since learnt that many new mothers who are into fitness can really struggle with the loss of endorphins that they get from exercise, making them more prone to postnatal depression.

I was considered high risk due to the fact I’d had such a traumatic birth. I have always credited exercise as one of the best anti-depressants available. On our last meeting you said that I should ‘just live the life I want and if you prolapse, you can get surgery once you’ve finished having kids’.

I took that advice and eased myself back in to the sports I loved, but the heaviness was too much, I knew things weren’t right and I finally found answers from my amazing women’s heath physiotherapist. I have a levator avulsion that has led to pelvic organ prolapse (POP). I haven’t had a scan to determine how much muscle is left attached to the bone, but my pelvic floor activation is probably only a fraction stronger since I last saw you, despite my best efforts of serious lifestyle modifications and pelvic floor training.

Based on statistics, surgery for POP has a 1 in 3 failure rate though it could be higher considering many women don’t go back to the same Doctor that performed the repair. Due to the nature of my pelvic floor damage, surgery has an even higher risk of failure, for me personally – I don’t want to be in and out of hospital for the next 30+ years.

When I mentioned to you that I was to be fitted with a pessary to help support my organs, you expressed your concern by suggesting that they are for old women who don’t have sex. Although I shouldn’t have to tell you, pessaries are much more than that. It took a while for me to adapt to mine, at first I felt so sad about having to use it feeling utterly betrayed by my own body. I used to cry so hard when I had to take it out, a hot, sweaty and weeping mess, wondering whether I would ever manage!  

Over time it has gotten much easier and enables a level of normality. I actually know women that are able to have sex with their pessaries in and their hubbies are very happy indeed! I have since connected with many other women who are in their twenties, thirties and forties and who choose pessaries over surgery.  Please consider this; doing everything to avoid POP is more important than thinking surgery is the solution when it happens.

I need you to know, from a mother who took a lot of time to find peace with her new body and it’s limitations that POP can have serious power over everyday life. Many women, like me, struggle with quality of life. Simple tasks that we once took for granted, like being able to lift up your toddler, run, jump or perform basic functional movements like squatting and bending, can become a constant source of worry.

Sadly it seems that a large percentage of women assume their symptoms are normal after having a child or feel ashamed and embarrassed by their condition and choose to suffer in silence, so the true mental impact of this POP is barely discussed. From first-hand experience and from talking to women who are in similar positions, depression and anxiety disorders are common, affecting not just the women suffering but their loved ones too.

That December day in 2013, my path completely shifted. I am determined to raise awareness for this unbelievably common condition, so common that studies suggest 50% of mothers will have some degree of prolapse in their lifetimes and yet most people outside of the medical profession have never even heard of, simply by starting the conversation and I can wholeheartedly thank you for giving me that voice.   

Can you relate to this? Please share your experiences.

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  • wow…i had no knowledge of this. My eldest was a forceps delivery but thankfully I did not have any on going issues after her delivery.


  • Amy I would like to thank you for the wonderful work you are doing to shed a light on the severe damage that forceps deliveries can do. I had this barbaric procedure carried out on me 38yrs ago and even after three major operations to try and fix the damage done to me, continue to live with daily discomfort. I am 67 years old now and not a day goes by when I don’t think of the horror of that experience. I thank God that our daughter didn’t suffer any damage from it, which could easily have happened. My personal opinion is that forceps should be banned – preventing doctors who do not have the skill nor the experience from using this barbaric instrument.


  • I have a rectocele, which I knew I had not long after my third was born (mine happened after the birth, though) and the gynecologist I saw said there was nothing wrong with me and in a nutshell, wouldn’t listen to me, got upset with me at being upset, and misdiagnosed it as scar tissue which I had to get an operation for. Ealier this year I saw yet another gyn (have had problems since the tubal the first gyn did during him removing the scar tissue) and she found the rectocele (rectum prolapse). It took nearly 6 years for me to get confirmation that I was right, I do have a problem. Sometimes you get really lovely people who are friendly and amazing at their job, and sometimes you get people who don’t care and let you down. I wish I had gotten a second opinion back then, but I trusted the doctor. The same as mums in labour trust the options and advice given to them.


  • To the writer of this, you are a vile piece of work. Keep out of it – except to tell him to be nice to the mother and not inflame the situation. In time you’ll probably find there’s a good reason the ex wife behaves the way she does towards him.


  • I think we need to talk a lot more about the consequences of birth decisions.


  • I wonder how many women suffer in silence because of the traumatic birth experience and complications they’ve had.


  • this is why we need more information about our care. I never discussed anything to do with forceps ever and thank god i didn’t need them. A lot of times, when you have questions or concerns, they would dismiss it as normal pains of pregnancy. I had “really sore pubic bones’ and no-one cared but i told a doctor and she wanted to send me to physio but at that point, i was 2 wks off giving birth.


  • Thanks for sharing, very important to raise awareness !


  • As an obstetrician I have been trying to find a way to raise awareness about POP and particularly its association with forceps delivery. I believe that apart from a few situations of extreme fetal distress the forceps belong in a museum. I would love to try and help find a way to inform all pregnant women about this before it is too late!


  • I hear you! I too had to make the decision in emergency, I had no idea about forceps, no clue!! I thought c-sections where awful, I was wrong. There should be FULL disclosure of the risks of forceps long before we\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\’re in the delivery room.


  • Wow! I could have written this!! I wish I had been told about the risks of a forceps delivery.. but my daughter was in distress and needed out, i had to make the decision in an emergency… i wish I had read this 4 months ago…


  • Articles like this are very important to be shared and acted upon by women especially as young as this Mum to have had these complications.. Also medical profession must be made more aware of this situation. I also believe that we should have same follow up by Dr etc performng surgery of any kind and continued follow up by one person not be passed through system of medical professionals. Maybe this young woman raising awareness could form a support group for young mums to ask questions, not be alone and have support by others.

    • Thanks for your feedback, I really appreciate you taking the time to comment.
      Interestingly I am in the early days of starting a charity for birth trauma (and injuries), it’s a slow process but we have some incredible people on our board. Peer to peer support will be a key component of it. I have also just been confirmed as a speaker at this conference: http://siu.ctc.usyd.edu.au/
      Where I will be sharing my birth trauma to people that need to hear it such as obstetric, midwifery, maternal-fetal medicine, paediatric and gynecology specialists.


  • I know that Mum had a forceps delivery when she had me.
    I may have had absence seizures when I was little as apparently I used to stare into space as the old saying goes. When I was 15 y.o. I developed severe tonic clonic epilepsy which thankfully is controlled my medication most of the time.
    My “old” 2nd neurologist has moved. Last time I saw a new one. I was asked what type of delivery my Mum had when she gave birth to me – 1st time I had ever been asked that

    • It is sad that these things aren’t considered, It seems we are in the dark ages when it comes to birthing practices. I wish we could follow Denmark and stop the use of forceps, scarily it is going the opposite way in Australia, UK and the US.

      • Not only was a forceps delivery, my Mum had huge tearing even down onto the skin on the very top of one of her legs. After my brother was born (she had a different obst) she was told she would never go full term.


  • Thank you so much for sharing your story.


  • Well done for sharing and raising awareness. Keep spreading the word. Your article will and has served as a way to empower women with choices and their bodies.

    • That would be a dream come true. I want women to be fully informed LONG before they are in an emergency situation.


  • I also had a forceps delivered baby and it took two years before we knew definitely that his brain wasn’t injured during delivery. It was a long time ago and things have changed somewhat in the interim, but I can understand where you are coming from.

    • I’m sorry to hear about your experience, thanks for reading.


  • My oldest was a forceps baby now 34 yers old. Having him almost killed me with the blood loss, i tore before being cut and yes this did make my life harder. With my 2nd son and on wards I had to lie down otherwise my uterus would begin to hang down. I was given no choice in the matter how my baby was to be delivered just the Dr wanted to go home and so they want the baby out. Glad someone is bringing out into the open. Mothers do have feelings and need to live a normal life and not worry about it.

    • Sorry to hear about your story, It makes me so sad that a mother’s wellbeing is rarely considered at such an important stage of life too. I wish there were more studies on the psychological effects of birth trauma, perhaps it would make the midwives and obstetricians think twice before deciding on a woman’s fate.


  • I have had a less severe prolapse (probably from having big babies) but yes it does worry you every time you pick something up that is too heavy, squat or similar…everyone always said you need to do pelvic floor excersizes but never said why, I just always thought “if I start having problems with wetting myself I will start doing them!” Not realising that a prolaps or any of those other problems were even possible.
    It really needs to be taught to young girls and women, it is a huge problem that so many people are not aware of

    • Agree, the sad reality is that most women have never heard of prolapse until they have it and then it is completely overwhelming. I think there needs to be more discussion so women know the risks, as birth is one of the many contributors. I also wonder whether the rates of prolapse could be reduced if there was more specific aftercare on pelvic floor health for postpartum women.


  • I am seventy-one and am about to request further surgery for prolapse because of the profound impact this has had on my quality of life. It affects every area of my life including socially and spending time with my grandchildren and because of that, the direct result is reactive depression. Not least because I am unable to exercise to improve the situation. It saddens me to think that young women are suffering with this and procedures do not seem to have improved in all these years.

    • I am so sorry to hear how prolapse has affected you. Sadly it seems some of our birth methods are still stuck in the 18th century. Raising awareness is key, so we can at least empower women to make informed choices. I wish you so much luck for the future.


  • Brilliant share Amy. It is imperative we generate awareness of POP to enable women to recognize signs and symptoms and seek early intervention; it is also IMPERATIVE we reach every layer of diagnostic clinicians, generating awareness of POP, the signs, symptoms, causes, treatments, and misconceptions. Association for Pelvic Organ Prolapse Support has built a duo-armed clinician conference taking place in July in Manchester, UK and Milwaukee, WI/US to address this exact need and one of the presentations I’m personally providing is Misconceptions. We have a long road ahead of us. Shine on warrior, shine on!

    Sherrie Palm, Founder/Executive Director
    Association for Pelvic Organ Prolapse Support

    • Thank you Sherrie and forever impressed by all the incredible work you do to raise awareness for pop.


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