While researching the “uncensored, totally honest” pregnancy and birth book I co-authored a few years back, I asked just about every new mom I met if there was anything I should know about that is usually not discussed.
The answers were somewhat diverse, covering emotional and physiological topics, but one thing came up more than a few times: the first postpartum poop.
Some felt going to the bathroom was much more of an ordeal than they’d imagined — the pads, the bleeding, the squirt bottles for cleaning — others said things like, “I never wanted to push anything out of me again.”
Epidurals and other pain medications often include narcotics which are renowned for their constipating side-effects. But even without constipation your pelvic floor muscles can be tired and sore — even a “regular” bowel movement can intimidate. And this goes for after vaginal and c-section births.
These days I make a point to tell moms, in advance, how they might cope with an intimidating bathroom scenario. One of them recently joked, “Maybe my husband can rub my feet and offer me a focal point object while I’m pushing?” But seriously, there really are things you can do! It’s no fun to fear the toilet. Life, and all the crap that comes with it, must go on.
So, on that note, here are 8 tips for getting through those first postpartum poops:
1. Don’t put it off 1 of 8The longer you wait, the harder it'll be. Stitches, if you have them, were meant to withstand the pressure.
Photo credit: Kelly Sue/Flickr
2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate 2 of 8Even if you were pumped with fluids during labor it's still a good idea to get into the habit of drinking lots of water throughout the day. Breastfeeding demands lots of fluid from your body so keep the intake up.
Photo credit: GFRPhoto
3. Take a stool softener 3 of 8This is not a laxative and isn't crazy strong, habit-forming or dehydrating. You get it in the hospital and then can buy more at the drug store.
Read More About Colace at: DailyMed
4. Avoid greasy, hard-to-digest foods 4 of 8Definitely pig out after giving birth, you will be hungry and you deserve a massive meal of your choice. Just maybe go the (finally I can have) sushi route rather than the (it'll be with you for days) greasy cheeseburger route.
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5. Eat high-fiber foods soon after labor 5 of 8It's pretty easy to BYO cereal, raspberries and lentil soup (or whatever oat bran-infused baked goods you might crave) to the hospital which may still be living in the nutritional dark ages of corn syrup soaked fruit cups and processed white flour breakfast rolls. Every facility is different! And some promise lean, high fiber meals for new moms that taste decent enough to get you through a couple days.
Photo credit: Fed Up Food
6. Squat 6 of 8Put your feet up on a stool (there's even one made for this purpose called the Squat Potty Stool) or a stack of phone books when you poop. This helps bring your knees up and puts you in a squatting position which aids in opening up and bearing down.
Check out theSquat Potty Stool
7. Get some product 7 of 8I like the Postpartum Recovery Bundle at EarthMamaAngelBaby, but you can get what you need at the local drugstore, namely: hemorrhoid cream (they can pop out during pregnancy or pushing and almost always disappear soon after) and witch hazel, a non-stinging astringent. You can easily dab a sore tush with witch hazel but you can also soak maxi pads in it and then freeze them. The hospital will provide you with a spray bottle for washing away urine gently and quickly so you don't sting too much. Buy the postpartum Recovery Bundle at
Photo credit: Earth Mama Angel Baby
8. Know that it’ll get easier 8 of 8It can be really hard after a first birth and some tearing is normal. It can be reassuring to know that women do heal and there are pelvic floor specialists to help if you need them. Mostly, it's a matter of taking it easy, eating well, and trusting that each day will show some improvement.
Photo credit: Ruxi and Rak/Flickr
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