The first postpartum poop. If you’re currently pregnant, it may not be something you’re even remotely worried about, but seasoned moms can tell you that it’s often monumental. And not usually in a good way. It may seem obvious that after having a vaginal birth, bearing down to go to the bathroom and putting any pressure on the pelvic floor might be scary. It’s especially frightening if you experienced tearing during delivery and have stitches. There are even other complications like constipation, bleeding, and hemorrhoids (affecting cesarean moms, too) that can make this trip to the bathroom even trickier. Here are some ways to ease those complications and make that poop less anxiety-inducing!
DON’T RUSH IT
Many new moms find that they are constipated after giving birth. Pain medications are notorious for “stopping you up,” so cesarean moms may be particularly susceptible to this. Furthermore, your body has just gone through a major event. Your abdomen is no longer housing a baby or placenta, and your internal organs are shifting once again. It’s very likely that it will take some time for you to even feel the urge to have a bowel movement after delivery. Think days, not hours.
Yes, you will need to go to the bathroom eventually, but don’t put undue pressure on yourself to poop as soon as you get home from the hospital. Give your body time to readjust. If it starts nearing a week after delivery, it may be time to talk to your healthcare provider, but until then just try to relax as much as you can.
DON’T STRAIN TOO MUCH
Along those lines, don’t strain too much on the toilet. If you try to go and it seems like it isn’t happening, don’t force it. If you do, you could develop hemorrhoids or worsen the ones you may have developed during delivery. Just stop, take a breath, and try again later.
TAKE STOOL SOFTENERS
You may be offered stool softeners in the hospital. If you are, take them without hesitation. It’s also probably a good idea to buy a bottle for your bathroom in advance of your delivery. Stool softeners can get things moving a little easier, plus they will lessen your chances of developing hemorrhoids.
When choosing a stool softener, be sure you do NOT opt for a laxative containing stimulants. Some laxatives can cause cramping in the abdomen, which you probably don’t want postpartum, especially if you’ve had a c-section. Look for the words “stimulant free,” but if you’re still unsure of what to choose, consult with your healthcare provider.
Staying hydrated postpartum has a dual purpose if you’re breastfeeding. It can help ease constipation, plus it’s recommended that breastfeeding mothers drink up to 13 eight-ounce glasses of water per day to encourage milk production. In those early days after delivery, it probably won’t be easy to pop up and get yourself some H2O, so ask a partner or caregiver to keep your water glass–or even a jug–full by your bed.
PREVENT DELIVERY-INDUCED HEMORRHOIDS
Believe it or not, you can take steps to make your first postpartum poop less scary even before you have your baby. Delivery-induced hemorrhoids are incredibly common with vaginal births, and once they develop they can last up to 6 months. If you opt for using a perianal stabilizer like Labor Guard during delivery, your chances of developing hemorrhoids can decrease. Being hemorrhoid-free during that first postpartum trip to the bathroom will make things much easier and less painful! You’ll want to care for your newborn… not your delivery-induced hemorrhoids.
The beginning of the “fourth trimester” is a time to remember your first moments with the new life you’ve brought into the world… not your first moments of terror on the toilet afterwards. Hopefully these tips will help make that first major trip to the bathroom just a tiny blip on the radar of your postpartum recovery.