As the saying (sort of) goes, poop happens. But it’s not always what you might imagine it to be, especially after you have a baby. To say that your poop changes after you give birth is an understatement I can definitely attest to. After having my 4th baby, I was in my postpartum room, on the toilet, legs splayed, with a (I kid you not) postpartum nurse whose head was positioned directly between my legs, patiently waiting for me to “deliver the dump.” (Her words, not mine.) And I couldn’t have ever imagined that my first effort to produce a poo would result in me passing out while sitting on the toilet. Literally, I fainted on the loo.
If you’ve ever had a baby, you know that almost nothing strikes fear in a new mom much like having to have that first post-baby bowel movement. After all, your body just produced a human. Can you really expect all of your bodily functions to return to normal right away? Absolutely not. Organs that have been smushed and compressed for months now have a little more room to breathe, but it still takes time for everything to get back up and running. So if you’re wondering what it will be like to go number two after you have your baby, here are some things you need to know in order to go.
1. You’re probably going to be constipated.
By and far, the biggest postpartum bowel movement shift comes in the form of constipation. Chalk it up to a lack of food ingested before you have your baby or a fear of pushing, but being constipated postpartum is almost to be expected. After all, your digestive system might still be sluggish from the pregnancy, or it could be because of the prenatal vitamins you’ve been taking, according to What To Expect. Thing is, if you’re a little clogged up, you’re still going to have to make an effort to eliminate, since not going to the bathroom can actually make things worse. And postpartum nurses are a little militant when it comes to making new moms have a bowel movement before they head home with their babies. Keep in mind that not going to the bathroom when you should can actually increase your constipation, as explained by WebMD.
2. Your poop might pop out unexpectedly.
On the other end of the elimination spectrum, you might discover upon going to the bathroom that you already had a poopy party in your pants. Fecal incontinence is a real thing, ladies; more than one in 10 women may experience this unpleasant condition after childbirth, reported Refinery29. It’s due to the pressure put on the pelvic floor during delivery, which also affects the pelvic organs such as the vagina, the urinary bladder, and the rectum. Since stretching — and in some cases, tearing — often occurs during delivery, it can leave the anal sphincter muscles weakened. Fecal incontinence is somewhat fixable, and according to the Mayo Clinic, treatments ranging from medications to dietary changes (think more or less fiber depending if you have constipation or diarrhea issues), along with exercises, can help to rebuild anal sphincter control.
3. You might poop a rainbow of colors.
Much is often made of a newborn baby’s stool. “Hey, it looks just like Dijon mustard!” But the same can also be said of a new mama’s poop, too. Typically, bowel movements are a standard issue light to dark brown in color, according to Medicine Net. That said, if you’ve been taking iron supplements during your pregnancy, your poop will probably pop out in a shamrock shade of green. And if your tummy was queasy postpartum and you drank some Pepto-Bismol, be prepared for your poop to be very dark or even black. If you had some Jell-O during early labor, your first postpartum poop might be a rocking red. But if your bowel movements are a questionable color (and you can’t attribute it to any food or medication you might have ingested), you should definitely speak with your doctor.
4. It might be lumpy and bumpy.
Depending on how long you’ve been holding it, your poop could take on a whole variety of shapes and sizes. A healthy bowel movement should come out in one long, somewhat smooth piece, reported Health. Thing is, if you’ve been constipated postpartum, prepare for your poop to come out in a lot of pieces plopping into the toilet. Or it might appear in the form of a knobby lump, which is also a sign of constipation. Drinking extra water and increasing your fiber intake can help you do your doody better.
5. It’s going to be stinky.
Blame it on medicines you might have been taking (or that big burrito you had before going in to deliver your baby), and you might be surprised at just how foul smelling your post-baby poops are. Of course, poop on its own isn’t the most pleasant-smelling, but it can become more pungent postpartum as your body tries to get back to normal. Sure, the stink will eventually subside, but check with your doc right away if the stench is accompanied by other bowel movement symptoms such as blood in your stool, abdominal pain, vomiting, chills, or unintentional weight loss.
Pooping after you have your baby isn’t fun, but for the most part, the problems associated with it aren’t forever, either. Be kind to your postpartum body, snuggle a lot with your baby — and keep a lot of air freshener in your bathroom in the meantime.