Pooping is a natural part of life. It's even an exciting thing when you’re little and potty training. So exciting in fact that you tell the whole bus full of "cool cheerleaders" what a big girl you are pooping on the toilet. Yes, that is exactly what my daughter told the girls after she got them to all focus and listen to her on the way to a basketball game. And yes, the cheerleaders were very supportive of her accomplishment. Then one day talking about pooping is taboo and embarrassing and even when we need to talk about it we feel too uncomfortable.
So, now that I’ve broken the ice… let’s get out of our comfort zones and talk about pooping. Specifically pooping after giving birth. It may not have crossed your mind because you were so focused on the fact that a small baby would soon leave your insides, but now that you’re thinking about it, it’s kind of a worry. I hadn’t thought about it until I was on a trip with my family and my cousins discussed holding themselves in when they pooped after birth. My mind was blown. What did that even mean? It was settled, I would never have kids.
Well, I did have a kid (soon to be kids on Friday--ahhhh!) and pooping was basically the worst part of recovery for me. I remember sitting on the toilet just sobbing, thinking I was about to split open every which way, and understanding exactly what my cousins meant by holding themselves in. Here’s to hoping this go around will be a bit more pleasant and more pleasant for you. Specifically, here are four tips to make for a smoother ride.
Make it soft!
There are lots of ways to make your stool softer. An excellent way is to be prescribed a stool softener/laxative by your doctor. Follow the directions and take those puppies religiously. Don’t wait to start taking them when you decide it hurts too much to poop (that was my biggest mistake). Also, stay hydrated, hydrated, hydrated, and eat foods that are high in fiber.
Relax. Don’t tense your muscles or push too hard. Focus on your breathing and begin pushing as you breathe out. Small little pushes are best. Try to let gravity help. You do not want to strain--especially if you have stitches. Don’t force the poop just to get it over with, and only try going when you really feel the urge.
Use a Stool for Your Stool
Our bodies are actually designed to poop in the squatting position. There are whole companies based around this idea, for heaven’s sakes! So, in the same way potty training toddlers go poop, you should squat too. No, don’t literally put your feet on the seat and squat, but find a stool and rest your feet on it while you try to relieve yourself.
Once you feel able to move around, try to start walking--even just up and down the hallway. By no means should you be running marathons, but if you stay put for too long you can cause yourself to become constipated and that will make life miserable.
Remember it is different for everyone, but you are not alone! Sometimes it can feel like you’re all alone because unless your best friend or sister has had a baby you may not have anyone who understands what you're going through--an acquaintance or stranger is not going to talk to you about their first postpartum bowel movement. It’s okay to be nervous, and you are valid in your feelings even if it may feel embarrassing to express them.
If it is taking you longer than a week or so postpartum to go poop, then you need to talk with your doctor. On average, it takes 3-5 days for women to poop after birth, and then it only gets better from there.
Truly, it does get better from there. Each poop after the first one feels less and less tender. Soon your hemorrhoids will start to go away and you won’t feel like your insides want to be your outsides. Before you know it, it will be six weeks postpartum and you will be able to work out again and poop like nobody’s business.