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MumsnetGuestPosts (MNHQ) Thu 10-Jan-19 11:21:14

Guest post: "Metal rods in my bottom relieved my post-pregnancy pain"

As part of our Campaign for Better Postnatal Care Sarah wrote about her experience dealing with postnatal health issues. Six months on she shares her progress.

Sarah Haselwood

Posted on: Thu 10-Jan-19 11:21:14

(10 comments )

Lead photo

I hope this update gives hope to other women who are struggling with their post-baby health like me.

Earlier this year Mumsnet ran a ‘Better Postnatal Care Campaign’ and my article was featured as guest post for it. I wanted to tell anyone who would listen that I had endured a shedload of pain since having children. I didn’t sugar-coat it, I didn’t (I hope) condescend others who might be suffering, and I didn’t smugly confirm that I was cured. Quite the opposite. I procrastinated about whether to give all the honest details as it was the first time I had openly divulged the truth about my ongoing pain. So, for those of you who read and responded to my article (thank you ALL) and want to know if those metal rods are working, then here’s my update. You heard it here first.

In a nutshell, I have been taking laxatives every day since I first give birth. I have endured anal fissures and cannot poo without laxatives. Doctors and consultants have carried out a sigmoidoscopy and a colonoscopy to try and pinpoint the issue without success and finally four years later a women’s health physiotherapist identified my pelvic floor as the issue and referred me to a London consultant.

The consultant instructed the use of various-sized metal rods to help to stretch the anus (I’m not joking, this has been my life and dare I say it, my dream of a cure). I was a first-class swot and did as I was told and gradually worked my way up the rod sizes every night for about 12 weeks.

I should add here that the rods I used were in fact sex toys. Life hit an all-time low around that time. Believe me those rods were intimidating and it doesn’t do a lot for your marriage when you have to ask your husband to leave the room so you can open the lubricant and shove a rod up your bum.

It certainly is a slow road to recovery, but the hope of one day having a body that doesn't require laxatives is the kick-up the said bum that I need.


About three months later I saw my consultant again and he was pleased with my progress and confirmed that there were no remaining fissures and the pelvic floor, although still tight, was much improved. You can’t believe how happy I was with myself because it was massively challenging even to be able to use the rods, let alone actually get to the biggest one!

He asked me to reduce my daily laxatives from two sachets to one and my first reaction was a firm no, because I have tried this in the past on multiple occasions and I have suffered with so much pain. I could feel the anxiety rearing as he made the suggestion, in response to fear of the pain I knew only too well. Instead I reduced from two to one-and-a-half sachets every night. I know this doesn’t sound a lot, but for me it was such progress because I genuinely never thought it would be possible to reduce my laxatives without terrible ramifications.

For two months following the laxative reduction I only had one flare-up of pain and that was when I was on holiday and completely relaxed my diet. I resembled a carbohydrate monster, gorging on bread, which I usually avoid, and quite simply shoving my face in any other carb available. It clearly isn’t the diet my body can cope with and the pain returned accompanied with a fat dose of low mood and desperation that I was not ‘fixed.’ In addition to the change in diet I also had an incredibly stressful weekend and I do wonder how much that pesky stress had to do with it. The positive part is that it only took a few days to recover to be pain-free. In the past it has sometimes taken three to four weeks, so something was clearly working or had improved.

In October I reduced my laxatives to one sachet a day, which I never thought possible. I have only had one bout of pain since then; again I put that down to a somewhat lardy and unhealthy Christmas diet. My consultant signed me off in October and suggested that the rods could go. Hurrah, they were removed from the bedroom rather hastily. He did admit though that perhaps I will need to stay on laxatives for the rest of my life, but at least I am on half the daily amount I was.
This year I am working up the courage to reduce the laxatives again to only half a sachet a day and then who knows, maybe I can ditch them altogether. Or perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself. I’m petrified of the pain returning, but my approach is again to take it gradually and keep my diet ultra-healthy. It certainly is a slow road to recovery, but the hope of one day having a body that doesn’t require laxatives is the kick-up the said bum that I need.

I hope this update gives hope to other women who are struggling with their post-baby health like me. The feedback I gained after the Mumsnet article from others who experienced similar health issues was both astounding and supportive. I have gone through this alone and as much as I feel for others who are also going through similar issues, it was strangely comforting to know that I’m not the only one.

If nothing else, I hope it reminds other mothers that it’s worth fighting for your health, because it can be tough enough being a parent without constant pain and anxiety.

By Sarah Haselwood

Twitter: @CorporatetoKids

norrismcwhirtersfridgemagnet Thu 10-Jan-19 12:33:46

Nikon op

Jamhandprints Thu 10-Jan-19 21:48:23

Thanks for telling your story. I had terrible anal fissures after 2 of my births but of course the nhs said it was absolutely nothing to do with the births, just a coincidence. Luckily they finally got better without the rod treatment. The first time took a year, this time 6 months. I'm glad you're pain free now.

Nonomore3 Thu 10-Jan-19 22:44:20

Thank you for sharing. It’s important for us to be able to talk openly about these types of injuries.

My experience is not comparable to yours at all But I did have 2 / 3 months of pain from haemmorroids and tears . No laxatives helped me without having a negative impact somehow.
The best thing I have found is Psyllium Husk. I take some every morning and it keeps all my flare ups at bay. Using it gave my body time to heal.
For anyone desperate to try something to help with Fibre in a natural way then do try it. I buy it cheaply exported from India. Rather than in health shops.
Picture attached.

Churchillian Sat 12-Jan-19 01:54:42

Sarah, thanks for your post. i’m just going through the same situation and have just got the appointments to have tests to see if my issues - recurring piles and anal fissures are as a result of pelvic floor issues after giving birth. My youngest child is 4 and although i’ve had operations for the fissures and piles since his birth, they just kept coming back. I finally saw a consultant in December who listened to the issues I have and diagnosed potential pelvic floor issues. It was great to be finally listened to, but I was also angry that it’s taken so long and I've been in pain for years and also now have issues caused by the operations on top of original problems. It’s great to hear that improvement is possible but I wish this problem was more widely known about amongst the medical profession. I had an (unnecessary as it turned out) episiotomy and forceps delivery as part of my first birth which was carried out by a medical student and went horribly wrong (split open, infected, took weeks to heal up, operation to tidy up scar tissue afterwards etc) , but the long term pelvic floor issues caused by tightness and scarring have never been mentioned to me until my last appointment in December.

4yearsnosleep Sat 12-Jan-19 18:51:07

This is great news. I may have to add metal anal rods to my vaginal dilators. Maybe everywhere needs stretching 🤔 I have now had 2x pudendal blocks and the relief from 💩 pain was unexpected and wonderful.

5.5 years pp and I'm STILL suffering. Sometimes I wish people would ask me direct why I have to take the lift or why I'm having an only child instead of rolling their eyes at me. I'd take great delight in their embarrassment grin

Smotheroffive Sun 13-Jan-19 01:56:03

This is something I've suffered all my life, but certainly I remember being in a bit of a state pp at GPS ; the only thing I have found works is to barely have any bread. I tear badly regularly, and nothing has ever been suggested to me, apart from an extensive list of a script. Creams, pessaries, some sort of fibrogel stuff, tablets, and a couple of other things. Ive finally got it under control, reasonably so, and know I have to keep upping the salad, fruit and veg if I tear. I really don't have it anywhere like you do, I think there was a stretching op offered at one point, but I will manage with my tiny bumhole for the time being, but its good to hear others talking about it and to know there are other options.

The blood loss is pretty shocking when it happens. I'm sure thats normal though, right?

megletthesecond Sun 13-Jan-19 09:59:04

I feel your pain. I had a decade of fissures that while they weren't directly caused by childbirth, they were caused by not being allowed stool softener after a c-section. Then years of IBS and lone parenting pretty much mashed my bottom up.
I had botox 14 months ago and think I'm safe now.
Like you I have to eat a very healthy diet, and I eat a little less than I'd like, but it's worth it to prevent it flaring up again. I managed to come off the stool softener too. I also keep active to make sure my digestive system is working nicely.

Thishatisnotmine Sun 13-Jan-19 19:30:15

OP, you have prompted me to go to my GP! Its nothing major, my I still bleed slightly two years after my second birth. I see my gp about recurrent thrush, dryness, paim during sex, but, you know... bums!

mummymayhem18 Tue 15-Jan-19 19:29:24

Hi all. Thanks for sharing your stories. I have had constant bottom problems,particularly the last 2/3 years. Last week I had a sigmoidoscopy under general anaesthetic where I had a few piles injected. The previous January virtually exactly a year before I had a fissure injected with Botox and 3 piles banded. It's only a week since my latest treatment but still hurts going for a bowel movement. Like it's scraping me as it comes out and also my bum and buttocks in general feel tender inside. I'm just so fed up with it all,I'm always aware of the pain,to varying degrees there is always something there. I'm sure you have all been the same when you just have to bend over or move a certain way and it's like a hot,tearing pain. Hard to get comfortable. I spend most of my days lying on my bed as the mattress is the most comfiest. What's all this about pelvic floor,I have never heard it mentioned to do with fissures and tears. I had a Caesarean section nearly 13 years ago so not a natural childbirth like most of you. I'm so fed up of having pain in my nether regions. I find it can sometimes cause me to feel pain near the front as well as for us women the 2 are close together. I do have painful bladder syndrome as well and I'm sure my anal pain triggers that as I'm always worse with it when I'm particularly sore in my bottom area.

Smotheroffive Wed 16-Jan-19 02:56:50

I can totally relate to that horrible scraping sensation, like passing razors, then the realisation of another bleed/tear. Happened today, I have just finished eating half a sourdough loaf over the last three or four days, hence...

Unlike you though, I don't get that hot burning pain on bending or anything, that's where your condition deviates from mine. pain can often be linked to severe trauma, from whatever source, so actual surgery say, or assault, or acute and chronic ptsd

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