When it comes to giving birth, we tend to focus on the price. The exit of a child from your body is, of course, the most important event. This is followed by the birth of the placenta, sometimes referred to as the “afterbirth.” Luckily, this part is usually pretty quick and painless – you may hardly notice it’s even happening.
But in the hours and days that follow, your body will experience another small milestone: the first bowel movement after birth. If you’re lucky, this will also be quick and forgotten once you flush. However, given what your body has been through, preparing for this event can cause anxiety.
Here you’ll find everything you need to know, as well as some tips for relieving discomfort.
How this poop is different
There are a number of factors that can make this particular trip to the bathroom seem more meaningful.
First, you may not have had a bowel movement in a while. “If you had a long induction or long labor and haven’t eaten for a long time, you probably don’t need to put out much. It may take several days,” Andrea Bradena gynecologist who practices in Georgia told HuffPost.
Constipation can also be a side effect of painkillers, fluctuating hormones, or simply your own hesitation.
If you have had a cesarean section or an assisted delivery (by vacuum or with forceps), or if you have had a tear or episiotomy repaired with stitches, you may be in pain and understandably reluctant to do anything that will help your Complaints could worsen discomfort. But holding back bowel movements can make the situation worse.
“Some people actually try to hold back bowel movements and not have a bowel movement, which leads to constipation,” Braden said.
Hemorrhoids, which are common during this time, can also cause pain when you go to the bathroom.
Even though this is all unpleasant, it is not unexpected.
“In my 26 years of experience, at least 90% of my clients have had difficulty using the toilet after giving birth.” Kali Kinga doula in Virginia told HuffPost.
Tips for a smooth move
Stool softeners or laxatives can help you pass your first bowel movement without straining, which is something you should avoid if you have stitches after delivery.
“The goal would be to not strain during bowel movements,” Braden said. “You want it to come out very easily because pushing can cause a lot more pain and pressure on the incision sites, no matter where the incision site is.”
King recommended light exercise or abdominal massage, as well as squatting to get things moving more easily.
Lori Bregman, a doula from Los Angeles, noted that staying hydrated is another way to prevent constipation. If you’re looking for something other than water, she recommends coconut water, bone broth, and electrolyte drinks (such as sports drinks). Foods rich in fiber such as fruits and vegetables also help.
A tablespoon of coconut oil can act as a natural stool softener, Bregman said, and a footstool as a Squatty Potty can help you get into a comfortable position while you are on the toilet.
You will also receive a peri bottle, a small plastic bottle that you can use to squirt water on your nether regions after using the toilet to clean yourself. This is much more comfortable than dry toilet paper, especially if you have had bites in that area.
Help with hemorrhoids
Hemorrhoids are “swollen blood vessels in the rectal area that develop due to pressure [of] Your growing uterus and increased blood flow. They can be itchy and painful,” Bregman said.
Unfortunately, if you have it at the end of your pregnancy, childbirth can make the problem worse. “They are very common during pregnancy and can get much worse, especially if you push for a long period of time,” Braden explained.
Studies show that around 40% of birthing women suffer from hemorrhoids before, during or after delivery. Pushing for more than 20 minutes is associated with hemorrhoids, as are assisted deliveries (forceps or vacuum). Your doctor may mention that you have these medications when he or she examines you after delivery, but you can also ask him or her directly.
The good news is that hemorrhoids “usually go away on their own,” King said.
There are many things you can do to ease the discomfort of hemorrhoids. Bregman recommends:
- chilled or frozen witch hazel pads with drops of vitamin E oil
- frozen leaf of an aloe vera plant
- sitting on a donut cushion
- use a footstool on the toilet
- Sitz baths
- Comfrey root ointment
When should you call the doctor?
Hemorrhoids can cause bleeding in the rectal area. However, if you don’t have hemorrhoids or are unsure, you should definitely report bloody stools to your doctor.
As for constipation, it’s probably time to call the doctor “if you haven’t had a bowel movement in a week and are feeling pretty constipated,” Braden said.
Other symptoms you should report to your doctor include “pain, swelling that doesn’t go away, infection, strange smell, heavy bleeding, and an intuitive feeling that something doesn’t feel right – always trust it and follow it.” said Bregman.
King recommends that you don’t allow your doctor to “downplay your symptoms.” If you feel this is happening, you can seek a second opinion.