We need to talk about that first postpartum shit

When it comes to birth, we tend to focus on price. Bringing a child out of your body is obviously the main event. This is followed by the expulsion of the placenta, sometimes called “placenta”. Luckily, this part is usually pretty quick and painless – you may barely realize it’s happening.

But in the hours and days that follow, your body will experience another minor milestone: the first postpartum bowel movement. If you’re lucky, this will also be quick and forgotten as soon as you flush the toilet. However, given what your body has been through, preparing for this event can be anxiety-inducing.

Here’s what you need to know, plus some tips to ease the discomfort.

How is this poop different?

There are a number of factors that can make that particular trip to the bathroom more meaningful.

First, you may not have had a bowel movement in a while. “If you’ve had a long induction or labor and haven’t eaten in a long time, you probably don’t have much to get out. It can take several days,” Dr. Andrea Braden, an obstetrician-gynecologist who practices in Georgia, told HuffPost.

Constipation can also be a side effect of painkillers, hormonal fluctuations, or simply your own hesitation.

If you have had a cesarean section or assisted birth (by vacuum or forceps), or if you have had a tear or episiotomy repaired with stitches, you may feel pain and be understandably reluctant to do anything. or which could worsen your condition. discomfort. But holding in your stools can make things worse.

“Some people will actually try to hold it in and not have a bowel movement, which causes constipation,” Braden said.

Hemorrhoids, common during this period, can also cause pain when you go to the toilet.

While this is all uncomfortable, it’s not unexpected.

“In my 26 years of experience, at least 90 percent of my clients have had difficulty going to the bathroom after birth,” Kali King, a doula from Virginia, told HuffPost.

Tips for a smooth move

Stool softeners or laxatives can help you pass your first few stools without straining, which you’ll want to avoid if you end up with stitches after giving birth.

“The goal would be to not push when you have a bowel movement,” Braden said. “You want the incision to come out very easily, because pushing can cause a lot more pain and pressure on the incision sites, no matter where the incision is.” »

King recommended light exercises or abdominal massage, as well as a squatting position to help get things moving more easily.

Lori Bregman, a doula from Los Angeles, noted that staying hydrated is another way to prevent constipation. If you’re looking for something other than water, she recommends coconut water, bone broth, and electrolyte drinks (like sports drinks). Fiber-rich foods like fruits and vegetables are also helpful.

A tablespoon of coconut oil can act as a natural stool softener, Bregman said, and a foot rest such as a Squatty Potty can help get you into a comfortable position when you’re on the toilet. .

You’ll also receive a peri-bottle, a small plastic bottle that you can use to squirt water onto your nether regions to clean yourself after using the bathroom. It’s much more comfortable than dry toilet paper, especially if you have stitches in that area.

Help with hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are “swollen blood vessels in the rectal area that develop from pressure (from) your growing uterus and increased blood flow.” They can be itchy and painful,” Bregman said.

Unfortunately, if you have it late in a pregnancy, childbirth can make the problem worse. “They are extremely common during pregnancy and can get worse, especially if you’re pushing for a long time,” Braden explained.

Studies show that about 40% of people who give birth suffer from hemorrhoids before, during or after childbirth. Pushing for more than 20 minutes is associated with hemorrhoids, as is assisted birth (forceps or vacuum). Your provider may mention that you have them when they examine you after delivery, and you can also ask them directly.

The good news is that hemorrhoids “usually heal on their own,” King said.

There are many things you can do to reduce the discomfort caused by hemorrhoids. Bregman recommends:

  • refrigerated or frozen witch hazel pads with vitamin E oil drops
  • frozen leaf of an aloe vera plant
  • sitting on a donut shaped pillow
  • use a footrest when using the toilet
  • sitz baths
  • ice
  • comfrey root ointment
  • acupuncture

When to call the doctor

Hemorrhoids can cause bleeding in the rectal area, but if you don’t have any or are unsure, bloody stools are definitely a problem to report to your healthcare provider.

When it comes to constipation, it’s probably time to call the doctor “if you haven’t had a bowel movement in a week and you’re feeling very constipated,” Braden said.

Other symptoms you might want to report to your provider include “pain, swelling that doesn’t go away, infection, a strange smell, lots of bleeding, and an intuitive feeling that something is wrong – always trust and follow this.” , Bregman said. .

King recommends that you not allow your provider to “downplay your symptoms.” If you feel this is happening, you can seek a second opinion.


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