When you're postpartum, it seems like all anyone cares about is the baby. I get it — newborns are squishy and adorable and whatever. Meanwhile, mom is sitting there recovering from serious trauma to her body and worrying about the one thing none of her visitors wants to hear about: that first postpartum poop. I'm sure it's not a big deal to everyone, but enough new moms are freaked out by it to warrant some pieces of postpartum pooping advice.
Pooping has always been problematic for me. Throughout my life, I've dealt with chronic constipation, and pregnancy just exacerbated it. With my daughter, I had thrombosed hemorrhoids that had to be excised the week I delivered her. Because of my lack of regularity, I didn't have my first bowel movement in the hospital... you know, where actual help was available. It was at home, and yeah, it was kinda scary. For my current pregnancy, the hemorrhoids showed up earlier (as in, at 18 weeks), and I had the pleasure of experiencing a post-hemorrhoidectomy poop. It was, in a word, traumatic. Needless to say, I'm more than a little anxious about what's going to happen to my butt after I squeeze out baby número dos.
This time around, however, I have the benefit of lived experience. I've done my research and tried some things out myself, so read on and let my bottom be your guide:
When you're nervous about the first postpartum poop (I mean, what if your lady parts fall out?), it can seem easier to just buy time and put it off. Don't. The longer you wait, the worse it's going to be for you. Better to strike while the iron is hot, if you know what I mean.
Hint: the iron is poop.
Your visiting in-laws might find it strange that you have a little stool hugging your toilet bowl, but I promise you'll thank me later. I Amazon Primed myself one of these bad boys during the hemorroid-pocalypse, and I never looked back.
The Squatty Potty changes the angle at which you poop, relieving pressure. You'll be happy to have anything that makes your first postpartum poop easier, and you'll also be on your way to long-term colon health (yes, I watched the infomercial).
I mean, don't do jumping jacks or anything, but a brisk walk down the hospital hallway or some light yoga may be just the ticket to getting your bowels moving.
Hydrate, dear reader, hydrate. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of drinking sufficient water. It's essential if you're breastfeeding, but it's also key to keeping you regular. Drinking ample fluids will help soften your stool, and that's a positive. Postpartum pooping is scary enough without trying to pass a geode.
"OMG fiber tastes so good!" said no one ever. Maybe it's not as delicious as, say, a greasy piece of pepperoni pizza, but it will ease constipation and help you go number two. WebMD recommends lots of fruits, vegetable, and whole grains.
I know you've been looking forward to your first postpartum meal, especially if you weren't allowed to eat anything during labor. A popsicle isn't exactly filling. However, according to Mothering, you may want to avoid dairy, sugar, and processed foods. Chocolate is also notorious for its constipating effects. Sorry.
Don't get me wrong, when I woke up in the middle of the night after delivering my daughter it felt like I was being stabbed in the grundle. So you better believe I hit the sh*t out of the call button until the nurse came running in with the pain meds. Sometimes, you just have to take them.
You should know, however, that medicines containing opioids can cause constipation. When at all possible, use acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Go easy on that little bum-bum before, during, and after pooping postpartum. Try to relax if you can, because you definitely don't want to strain. Use a baby wipe instead of toilet paper. When you're all done, treat yourself to a nice little sitz bath. Be kind to yourself and know that it does get easier with time.
If at any time something doesn't seem right, don't hesitate to contact your provider. You have to take care of yourself, and as much as you may hate to admit it, your butt is a pretty important part of you.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.