Jo’s Story – Why I became a MASIC Advocate

Women’s Stories is a collection of REAL women talking about their journey with MASIC.

21 years ago, I was induced and I experienced a traumatic birth delivering a large baby resulting in 2nd degree perineal and vaginal tears. I was 22 years old and the extent of the damage caused by this birth did not become apparent immediately. I had no idea about the link between incontinence and childbirth and specifically anal incontinence or OASI.

One-year post birth I suffered urinary stress incontinence and after extensive physiotherapy I had a TVT mesh tape inserted. Whilst this remedied the urinary incontinence, I started to experience anal incontinence which proceeded to get worse. Initially, I was given a combination of drugs, mainly laxatives, Imodium and glycerine suppositories, to try and manage the symptoms of incomplete emptying which was unsuccessful.

Psychologically, one of the biggest obstacles I faced was getting an admission that the birth was the cause of these symptoms. It was implied that I had IBS, or had a virus caused by overseas travel, but these tests returned negative. Eventually, as the symptoms worsened, I asked for a meeting with the consultant at the hospital where my son was born, to ask why I had these problems. I was met with a very unfortunate response and told my problems were psychological, as a result of experiencing a traumatic birth, and that they would go away in time.

However, these problems did not go away and are very much a physical issue. I have undergone years of treatments, physiotherapy and rehabilitation to try to get resolution from debilitating anal incontinence. Along the way I have had multiple surgical procedures to repair the damage caused by the birth. As the years passed and as my situation deteriorated, I have been told multiple times the birth was the cause of my situation and that I should have had a Caesarean section. However, this is not helpful as you cannot change what has happened.

I have tried neurostimulators, a variety of rectal irrigation solutions and as my condition declined, I opted to have a Colostomy in December 2019.

Deciding to have a colostomy was an extremely considered decision as have all the treatments I have had. Any surgery is not a decision to be taken lightly but I felt I had little choice left. My quality of life has significantly improved since having my colostomy and has given me a greater sense of freedom. In my husbands’ words, “I am more like me again.”

Despite these hurdles I have not let my condition define who I am, and I have tried to lead as active a life as possible. As a Personal Trainer I have learnt how to adapt my exercise and fitness regime many times over and I use my personal experience of pelvic floor dysfunction and knowledge gained through living with this condition to help women achieve their goals.

I found MASIC whilst attending the Consent to Birth Meeting in London, in October 2019. I listened to other women bravely telling their stories of what life is like living with anal incontinence and I felt inspired but also frustrated. Despite 21 years passing since my own birth trauma, it became apparent that women are still experiencing difficulties in seeking help. As a result of childbirth injuries relating to anal incontinence and the psychological effect that has, I realised that I could use my own experience to help others through MASIC.

So, this is why I became a MASIC Advocate. I am extremely passionate that women need to be made aware of the risks of OASI, and to try to prevent other women having to live through what I have endured. Having the opportunity to raise awareness and educate about the consequences of living with anal incontinence has given me a hope that, as MASIC Advocates, we can raise the profile of this taboo issue, make a difference and improve the quality of lives and support others in our situation.

Looking for support?

There is support available if you need it, don’t suffer in silence and don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice.

MASIC can help you over come the physical and emotional trauma you may have experienced during and after child birth. We can support you and guide you to helpful resources, all you need to do is get in touch.

Not sure where to start?

Please call the MASIC 24h freephone Birth Injury Support Helpline 0808 1640 8333

The stats speak for themselves.
More women are affected and need support…

85%

of women with severe birth injury said it impacted on their relationship with their child

78%

were affected by traumatic memories of the birth

52%

stated they were embarrassed by the symptoms of their injury

49%

of women affected said they doubted their ability to mother

45%

suffered postnatal depression as a result of their injury

24%

of women affected regretted having a child because of the injuries sustained