A common postpartum fear is that the first poop after birth will hurt.
More than likely, it will take several days before you have your first bowel movement after birth. The bowels are a bit sluggish following childbirth. Plus if you have been on any pain medication, this also slows down the bowels.
Hopefully, your postpartum nurse told you to take stool softeners until you were having regular bowel movements again. If not, start taking them right away. These will help soften the poop so it doesn’t feel as uncomfortable.
So, why does it hurt to poop the first time after birth?
The bowels are sluggish (as mentioned above). This causes more water to be absorbed from the poop and the poop to harden. It’s really important to stay hydrated to help prevent this. Also, the pressure from your baby’s head pressing through the birth canal (along with pushing) can cause hemorrhoids and tearing of the perineum. All of this heals, but it takes time. The first poop comes along way before you are all healed up.
The stool softeners will help get the poop out without over enlarging the hemorrhoids or irritating any vaginal repairs you needed to have. Remember to keep perineum cleansing items available and use them after each bathroom visit. This will help keep the area clean and prevent infection.
What can I expect with my first poop after birth?
Discomfort. It’s not going to feel great, but it also shouldn’t be super painful either. Again, you need to be taking stool softeners twice a day following birth. Don’t strain when it’s time. Just let it happen. Try to breathe calmly and not fight it.
I dreaded my first poop, and here’s why. I had a really bad experience during my first trimester of pregnancy with constipation. I had been extremely sick and unable to function without nausea medicine. The medication I was on caused constipation (which I was unaware of). Couple that with my lack of desire to stay hydrated because of extreme nausea, and I became severely constipated and dehydrated. I thought I was going to have to go to the hospital because I couldn’t poop. How embarrassing! And then it finally happened (thanks to my doctor’s advice to use an enema). I will spare you the details, but it was terrible.
This is still one of the worst experiences of my life, and I’ve given birth and recovered three times.
The first postpartum poop paled in comparison to this terrible experience. Was it as easy as normal? No. But it was manageable. It didn’t take days to recover. And each one got easier and easier.
How to Make your first poop after birth easier
1. Stay hydrated.
It’s important to stay hydrated while your body recovers from childbirth. Plus if you are breastfeeding, you need to be drinking at least 8 cups of water a day. Probably more. I found that if I kept a bottle of water beside me every time I nursed, I would drink more water. To make your first poop go smoothly, you need to stay hydrated.
2. Eat Fiber Friendly Foods
This can be a tricky one. If you aren’t used to eating this way, it can cause gas, which if you are breastfeeding, can upset baby’s tummy. So, start slow in this area. Oats and oatmeal are higher in fiber, but easy on the stomach, and is a great place to start. Bonus: consuming rolled oats can increase milk supply.
3. Take your Stool Softeners
Everyday until you are regular again. I’ve mentioned this several times, so I will leave this here.
4. Let Gravity do the Work
Don’t hold it! Whether it’s been two days after birth or five, if you feel the urge just let it happen. Sit down. Don’t rush, and no pushing if possible. Sometimes relaxing by breathing deeply helps as well. Breathe the same way you breathed through those early labor contractions!
And after that poop happens, cleanse with warm water, spray your dermoplast (which will provide instant relief), and apply witch hazel pads.
You’ve got this Mama! I know this stinks (pun totally intended), but before you know it, that first poop will be history.
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