When I got to the hospital, it was all very high-tech — machines that self-calibrated drugs and detected contractions and heartbeats, transmitting them to TVs around the ward while I writhed about on the bed. Delivery rooms look like spacious space shuttles, full of gleaming baby scales and special warming stations. There are QR codes on everything to scan. But then you deliver the baby and suddenly it's back to 1950. They wheel you over to the recovery ward, which looks like a bus station, and the extent of it is gauze underpants, maxipads the size of my old flute case, and a single plastic squeezee bottle to blindly hose it off your undercarriage every time you shuffle into the Trans-Pacific toilet car that is your “en suite.” Which is crazy, because half of the trauma occurs after childbirth. And when it comes to delivering your first poop after baby — pain station 3 if you're unlucky — there is no one there massaging your butthole or chanting words of encouragement.
Editor's Note: As of Dec. 22, Squatty Potty recalled the specific step stool, Squatty Pottymus, due to potential slipping hazard.
Birthing injuries to the pelvic girdle are, I suspect, second only to mental health issues in going undiagnosed postpartum, and all that is holding off complete chaos between the tattered vagina and butt space is a "wall" of tissue as thick as a piece of devon. Still, the hospital staff send you off home as soon as they are happy you can so much as fart, like, good luck! Mazel!
The second time around, I had a better idea what to ~expect~ in the postpartum poop department, so didn't spend the lead-up to childbirth sandbagging my intestines with cheesy-crust pizza and cake doughnuts, thinking that once the baby was out my colon would inflate like an escape slide and be instantly back in business.
Still, digestion as a pregnant person is no small thing, and after basically directing everything below your waist toward the exit during that one final push, you don't know what you've done to your bum. Sitting on the toilet and feeling like there aren’t any trains scheduled for days — like there is just no urge at all — can be precarious. Enter the Squatty Potty.
People are really evangelical about Squatty Potties. It’s like Cross-Fit or The Secret for creating tribes of people who Know and now feel compelled to recruit. I heard about them in the potty training book Oh Crap, and before I knew it, I was perusing user reviews on Amazon — these are, if you don't know, very enthusiastic. A sample:
Says Katscatters, "My husband is a much happier man since we bought the sqatty potty. No more needs to be said. :)"
I was sold.
When mine arrived at my home via Amazon's two-day shipping (the only shipping speed acceptable to postpartum women), it was in a ginormous box, looking like it could be a ghetto blaster or an electric keyboard or something. “What came?” Asked my husband, excited about the box. Every week he wonders if a PlayStation will find its way to him, even though no one is ever buying one. “Ooo, I don’t kn— oh wait. Yes I do,” I say, realizing what it is. “It’s something for Scout.”
Yes, I pinned the purchase of a Squatty Potty on my toddler, but having recently fished a floater-du-Scout out of the bath, I didn't feel too bad about it.
So, you set the plastic footstool up around to your toilet and, when it's time to go, prop your feet so you're in more of a squat. The website explains the general ergonomics of the deal on your sphincter with a helpful unicorn diagram:
Does it work? By jove, it does.
Sitting with your feet propped on the cheap white plastic and experiencing the magic of a BM passing the Argonath, it feels almost as though you've been doing things wrong your whole life — squeezing a sunscreen tube with that foil seal on under the cap, or living in a Truman Show-esque fabricated reality in which we all sit on thrones to poop because a coterie of hidden producers have decided it should be that way.
Some of the Amazon reviews are to the tune of, "I don't have time to read a single article any more on the toilet!" And it's true — I only have time budgeted in my parental schedule to poop for two minutes once a week, but this gets it done in seconds. I imagine entire podcasts and print magazines would see their readership and listenership in free fall if the Squatty Potty ever gained a stronger hold on the nation's bathrooms.
And here's where I get political: I believe every mom should have one.
Hospitals have been known to charge as much as $15 for a single Advil tablet for inpatients; for less than two tabs, you could give every woman walking out of the maternity ward with a newborn her very own Squatty Potty.
"You get a Squatty Potty! You get a Squatty Potty! You get a Squatty Potty!"
Try and fathom that level of care and concern being directed toward women's perineums. Picture vulnerable and sore women walking out of hospitals the country over and smiling as they wrangle a gigantic hoverboard-shaped box under their arm, winners of the game show that is parenthood.
Instead, our general take as society is that women, after flipping their organs inside out like those toys that tuck into their own pockets, should be sent home to an isolated existence of round-the-clock feeding without so much as a Camelbak, all while dealing with c-section wounds and vaginal tears that have been darned by a couple of interns.
A study published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that 3.1 percent of women in a study of 949 experienced fecal incontinence after childbirth. Nearly a quarter of a million U.S. women underwent surgery for pelvic prolapse injuries in 1997, per Women's Health journal, making it one of the most common surgeries for women; one of the key risk factors is a vaginal birth. The European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology states that many women experience sexual dysfunction postpartum, but "embarrassment and preoccupation with the newborn" keep them from seeking help.
A squatty potty might be nice, is what I'm saying.
My husband doesn't love the Squatty Potty ("I have no problem with pooping." Me: "Then what are you doing in there for 20 minutes every morning?"). It's not the most beautiful piece of decor. But my daughter uses it to climb up and help herself onto her kid-potty seat. And I love it. It feels like yoga. It's the one second each day when I have good posture. Maybe I'll paint some succulents on it or something, help it to fit in with our aesthetic.
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