Birth For Mum
What you need to know about that first postpartum poo
By Sara Keli
Welcome to motherhood. While we could tell you that it gets better (it really does) and to stock up on dry shampoo (it’s what all the best mum buns are made of), there is something else that we need to talk about first … that first postpartum poo.
You’ve dealt with the haemorrhoids and constipation of pregnancy and now you have to deal with something that can almost seem as frightening as giving birth all over again.
What’s the big deal?
You’ve just delivered a baby, how hard can a little poo be? Well, we know it can actually be pretty scary. Depending on your birth experience, you might be left with stitches, a swollen vagina, a stretched perineum, and a stinging feeling whenever you wee. You might be worried about straining too hard and bursting your stitches, or simply the pain that a poo will cause to your already tender downstairs area. On top of that, the drugs given during labour can also affect bowel movement.
The reality is that every mother goes through the first postpartum poo … and yes, we all survive it. If you’re staying in hospital for a few days after your baby is born, the nurses will be checking on you to ensure you’ve had a bowel motion, and will be helping you with whatever they can to get your bowels moving. If you are at home and have a nurse visiting, they can do the same, or you can visit your GP for help.
Bite the bullet
The first postpartum poo can actually seem far scarier that it is. And once it’s over, you will feel so much better! The reality is that the longer you leave it, the harder it will be … literally. You can end up constipated, which can cause other problems such as haemorrhoids if you need to strain too much.
So if you feel that familiar churn of your bowels, it’s best to bite the bullet and get it over and done with. It gets easier from here. And remember to relax – tensing up will certainly not help the situation!
Tip: When you do go, try leaning forward with your forearms on your thighs, and raise your feet with a footstool or similar to help get into a better position.
Eat the right food
Before you head to the loo, it’s best to avoid foods that will harden your stool, and instead go for foods that will help soften it. Eat foods such as prunes, fruit and vegetables that contain lots of fibre. Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water will also help.
You can also try a stool softener (NOT a laxative!) – check with your doctor or midwife first.
You might not really feel up to going for a walk – and your brand new baby might have other ideas – but moving around can help to get your bowels moving. A lap of the hospital ward while pushing baby in their bassinet could be just the thing you need to loosen things up – and if you’re lucky, it could put baby to sleep at the same time!
Keep it clean
Sometimes it’s not just the first postpartum poo that be painful – wiping afterwards can also be tricky when you’re still tender and dealing with stitches. The most important thing is to keep the area clean. If you are finding it too painful to wipe, you might want to use water and jump in the shower afterwards to ensure you are clean. Some mums also prefer to use feminine wipes, blotting the area dry, instead of rough toilet paper.
Using a peri-bottle on your tender areas while you’re on the loo (for number ones or twos) can also help – this is basically just a small squeeze bottle filled with warm water, and many mums swear by it.
Remember, once you’ve done that first poo, it will get better. And then your life will start revolving around the poo of another little person … and that is a far more unpredictable and constant situation!