Many women are told by health professionals - GPs, midwives, obstetricians, and gynaecologists - that prolapse after childbirth is normal. In the vast majority of cases, this is probably intended to be reassuring.
It's also true that prolapse after childbirth is common, but there is a subtle but important difference between common and normal.
Common means that something often happens. Women do often experience prolapse after childbirth, as a result of labour or of the pregnancy itself. The most recent data suggests that at least 1 in 5 new mums experience prolapse, and this figure is being revised up as more women feel able to seek help for their symptoms.
Normal has a different meaning. It suggests that not only is something to be expected, but that it is acceptable and perhaps even inevitable. To a pregnant woman, telling her that prolapse is normal implies that there is nothing she can do to prevent it happening, or to stop it getting worse if it has already occurred. To a mum with prolapse, it tells her to just accept what has happened, and not to bother anyone about it. It implies that prolapse is a normal, but unspoken, part of being a woman and she will just embarrass herself if she brings it up. It tells her that other women just deal with it, and that if she can't face just dealing with her symptoms (however distressing) then she is not a normal woman.
Telling a woman that prolapse is normal is giving her a life sentence.
If you are a health professional, consider carefully the message that your words give your patients, however unintentional.