Following the birth of her 3rd son, 8-time marathon runner and Broadway, Worcestershire local Claire Greave suffered a grade 3 prolapse and was told she could never run again.
Just months later, she successfully ran the London Marathon – beating the time she had set 13 years before.
Claire had been an avid runner prior to the birth of her son, and explains that there were no dramatic complications with the birth that would have led her to believe that the next year of her life would be so traumatic.
“I’d been a runner for over 15 years. Prior to baby number 3 I’d run 8 marathons, so I wasn’t your average go-for-a-jog-around-the-block kinda girl. I ran through all three pregnancies – up until week 37 with my last child. It was a straightforward labour but it ended with a manual placenta removal”.
Claire explains that she began to feel that something wasn’t right a day or two after the birth of her son.
“It felt like a golf ball was coming out of me. I was totally horrified, I didn’t really know anything about prolapse. I had a forceps delivery with my first child and my second came out at 9lbs 8oz. The damage had probably been done, but because no one ever checked me properly, without leakage or visible symptoms, I couldn’t have known”.
What Claire was experiencing was a grade 3 prolapse. She explains that it caused her “pain, discomfort, shame and embarrassment” – so much so that she kept it to herself for 2 weeks before telling her husband. Even after visiting a gynaecologist for treatment, Claire was left feeling hopeless.
“Sometimes everything ached down there. Other times I felt like I was walking with a tampon in the wrong place. My gynaecologist just told me to do some kegels and said I could never run again. To hear her say that with such nonchalance after running for so long compounded the total devastation and embarrassment I felt about what was happening to me. Postnatal care in general is grossly underfunded and generally very poor”.
Unsatisfied with this insensitive response, Claire sought help in the form of a women’s health physio, and 18 months later, after an intensive rehab, she was running the London Marathon.
“It took a lot of time and patience to recover, but when I did, not only did I run the marathon without making my symptoms worse, I got a PB –beating the time I had set pre-kids 13 years before”.
Claire now runs Natal Active, providing functional activewear for pregnant and breastfeeding mums to stay active during pregnancy and after childbirth.