Postpartum Pooping 101: How to Survive

22 Jan, 2021

Women holding naked baby against a yellow background

Moms, take a deep breath….There are three essential deliveries in the process of childbearing: Deliver baby. Deliver placenta. Deliver first postpartum poop. The last one has earned itself quite the rePOOtation for invoking fear in moms, but we’ve got your survival guide to conquer it like the superhero you are!

Table of Contents

 How to prepare for your postpartum poop while pregnant

Practice Perineal Massages

You can start performing perineal massages anytime after 35 weeks pregnant! Recap: your perineum is the area of tissue between the opening of your vagina and the anus. 

They may seem awkward at first but they offer an opportunity to prepare your perineum for stretching during childbirth, and are also something your partner can help you with!

A perineal massage is just that. Either you or your partner can use any natural oil or water-soluble lubricant to do one. Using both thumbs, they should massage in a U-shaped motion along the wall of your vagina towards the anus, and be held in this position for 1 to 2 minutes at a time. 

Do Deep Squats

Getting in the deep squat position helps relax and lengthen your pelvic floor muscles and stretch the perineum — a two for one! Your pelvic floor muscles are responsible for supporting the uterus, bladder, small intestine and rectum.

Keeping these muscles toned during pregnancy will help your body prepare for childbirth, lower the risk of tearing, reduce the likelihood of postpartum incontinence, and therefore help reduce the trauma to your vagina.

Get in Child’s Pose

Yogis know this pose well so don’t be afraid to embrace your baby with getting down into the child’s pose. This pose also helps lengthen those pelvic floor muscles that you’re probably sick of hearing about by now. Sorry, mamas! 

Kegels, Kegels, Kegels!

Studies continue to show that doing kegels before, during and after pregnancy can help decrease the odds of postpartum incontinence and pelvic floor issues. Even better, women who have made a habit of doing pelvic floor exercises may have a slightly shorter active phase of labor! 

Try tightening these muscles for about 3–5 seconds at a time in five minute intervals a couple times a day.

How childbirth affects bowel movements

Perineal Tears and Episiotomies

Before the fear of postpartum pooping sets in, most new moms are riddled with fear about tearing “down there” or needing an episiotomy. As if it’s not enough growing a human for nine months. 

In fact, according to a study done this year by BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, perineal tears affect about 80% of women during childbirth. Though it seems completely awful and unfair, you can be sure that you won’t be alone and there are ways to help recover from or prevent this from happening!

The difference between a perineal tear and episiotomy is that one happens naturally, while the other is a medical intervention, in which a nurse will make a surgical incision in the perineum (space between your vagina and rectum) to enlarge the vaginal opening. 

Either way, having any type of tear down there requires stitches, which is nerve wracking to think about when moms hesitantly approach the toilet for their first bowel movement after delivery. 

Loosened Pelvic, Rectal & Abdominal Muscles

Throughout pregnancy and labor and delivery, your pelvic, rectal and abdominal muscles have all loosened and adjusted to accommodate your baby. For vaginal births and cesarean sections, this holds true! 

A pregnancy hormone called relaxin gets to work almost immediately — peaking during the first and last trimester of pregnancy — to increase elasticity of your tissues, ligaments and muscles. This is why your joints ache and your back hurts! Relaxin stays in your body up to five months post delivery, which is why you may still be feeling achy, wobbly or “loose.”

Your body has gone through something incredibly valiant and will need some time to put things back together and tone up its muscles again. The aches and pains in your vagina, pelvis, rectum and abs can affect your bowel movements, so don’t strain when on the toilet!

Pooping and Enemas During Delivery

Some women poop on the table or receive enemas during delivery. If you’re reading this thinking you didn’t, sorry to burst that bubble, but you probably did. Nurses have gotten pretty swift with not making this known during moms’ delivery, because honestly, what good does that do?

This may reduce the overall urge to go after giving birth since basically, since your bowels are empty; not to mention, you probably haven’t eaten or drank much. Be patient and let your body work up its next bowel movement.

Hormonal Changes and Stress

A lot is going on after delivering a baby and bringing them home. Hell, delivery might have been the easier part compared to the chaos that transpires once your home and on your own! 

Your hormones that your body relied on while pregnant are sorting themselves out; progesterone that was created by the placenta will return to normal — estrogen, however, remains at a high level after childbirth, which make you feel moody, weepy, and extra emotional for a few weeks.

You have a new human in the house that can’t survive without you, your body is recovering from delivery, your estrogen is running rampant, and all of these challenges combined add to the anxiety over pooping and having postpartum constipation.

How to have the best postpartum poop experience

Drink Lots of Water

Childbirth often leaves women dehydrated, and dehydration leads to constipation.  Honestly, how much time did you have during labor to drink 2 liters of water? Not to mention, you do lose fluids during childbirth. During your postpartum pooping journey, it is important to replenish your body and thank it for its work with lots of water and hydrating fluids!

You should go back to drinking the recommended amount of water for pregnant women, which is anywhere from 2–3 liters a day. Your body and bowels will thank you as they prepare for your postpartum poop.

Eat Healthy Meals and Snacks

As a new mom it may be easier to go for quick fast meals, but they should be as healthy as possible! Your gut loves fiber filled foods, so start going for snacks that will help hype up your sluggish digestive system like whole grains, nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables.

Pamper Your Perineum 

Whether you’ve had a tear or episiotomy, or are lucky enough to not have either, your perineum is still going to be sore. It’s been stretched to the max and it’s completely normal to feel pressure and pain in that area after delivering your baby.

Things like taking sitz baths, using Dermoblast and pain relievers and sitting on donut cushions instead of hard surfaces can provide you with so much relief in your postpartum journey!

Pampering your perineum with using padsicles (short for pad and Popsicle) has become a recent postpartum fad, and tbh, we’re sorta obsessed with it too. Basically, you smother maxi pads with aloe vera gel, witch hazel or Dermoblast, and lavender essential oil and then pop those suckers in the freezer until you need them — and trust us, you will.

It’s not something you buy in stores, so preparing these in bulk before or after delivery will save your life and bring you so much relief that will leave you feeling confident when a bowel movement inevitably presents itself!

Use Stool Softeners

It’s very likely that the hospital or birthing center you delivered at either gave or recommended you stool softeners. You may think you don’t need them, but honestly, take them! 

They aren’t laxatives so you won’t be running to the toilet immediately, but it will help prevent your stool from getting too hard, and make it easier to pass for when it is ready to make its big debut. You can take stool softeners safely for the first three days post-delivery.

Don’t Ignore the Urge to Go Out of Fear

If there’s an urge to go, take a deep breath, sit and let it happen. You’ve birthed a kid at this point, so poop should be no problem! Holding in your stool for fear of passing it, only prolongs any postpartum constipation you may be having and will make you more backed up then you want to be. Using a toilet stool and sitting with your feet raised will help your colon relax and make it easier for your poop chute!

Take Light Walks

Once you’re feeling up for it, taking light walks can make all the difference in your mood and gut groove. Plus, that bit of fresh air and light exercise even if it’s just for 10 minutes will activate your body and bowels, working wonders for your postpartum poop, and kicking that constipation to the curb!

TUSHY Helps Moms Feel Confident in Postpartum Pooping

It’s no small feat growing and then delivering a baby into the world. The delivery of your first postpartum bowel movement is just a small hurdle compared to what you’ve already done! Feeling discomfort and anxiety are completely normal and luckily, only temporary. 

Practicing pelvic floor exercises and perineal massages while pregnant will help prepare you for labor and delivery. Once the baby has arrived, having self-care products on hand like Epsom salt for sitz baths and padsicles that you can make before delivery will ease your discomfort and anxiety over that first poop after childbirth. 

TUSHY products like the toilet stool and warm water bidet are lifesavers for postpartum mamas with so many benefits — they encourage healthy bowel movements and relief for your ever-deserving lady parts.

Postpartum Pooping 101: How to Survive [Infographic]

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