Okay ladies, I am going to talk about the first postpartum poop you are going to have and try to help you come to terms with it.
Sh*t is about to get real.
If you have found yourself on this page, it might be because A- you are scared sh*tless of going for the first postpartum poop and you are stalling but also trying to find out how to make it easier on you, or B- you are preparing yourself for what is to come once you have had the baby.
If you are A
You are probably absolutely exhausted. If you are breast feeding, you are probably in a bit of discomfort. You are even probably a bit weepy and bluesy, and that is absolutely okay! It feels like the last thing you need right now is the postpartum poo chaos and you might even be a bit afraid. I know I was.
You are probably also really P*ssed off with the world because not only have you carried a baby in your body for 9 months, you then gave birth to said baby after some gruelling labour, then you are turned into a human udder for the many hours of cluster feeding that followed, but you then have the fun little task of sh*tting. Is the world running some kind of sick joke against women? Does it not end?! Well my darlings, a woman’s work is never done.
If you are B
Well done! I was naive in thinking that I didn’t need to research postpartum life before having the baby and I think that’s maybe why I was so nervous to poop. Doing your research now will pay off in the long-run and hopefully you won’t be caught out with any unnecessary nasty surprises (hint, I say “unnecessary” as no amount of research can prevent all the nasty surprises once the baby is here).
Feeling like a China doll after birth
The day after birthing Lonje, I woke up in a perpetual state of feeling sorry for myself. I remember the first shower I had which was terrifying- I felt like I was a china doll, like I was as fragile as Lonje was! I was lathering up my body with my favourite shower gel but doing it as if I was lathering up tissue paper- I was afraid something would hurt or break. My first shower was delicate business, I was absolutely dreading my first postpartum poop and I bet you are too.
Thankfully my sister (who is a wonderful mother to 2 beautiful boys- and who had her 2nd boy earlier on this year) had reassured me that the first poop is never as bad as you think its going to be. It was only after the ordeal happened that I could agree with her.
Whats the big deal? A poop is a poop! You just went through labour, you can do a poop.
Nope, postpartum pooping is in a league of its own and every woman has a right to be a bit scared about it. I remember thinking that my innards would fall out of me if I pushed too hard- I was so delicate!
How long should you wait?
When you have a baby, other things in your body subside their efforts for a bit to focus solely on the birthing. This meant for me, that pooping was not on the cards until 5 days after having Lonje. This meant 5 days of building up suspense and worry all while being already overwhelmed by becoming a brand new mum and second (and third and fourth) guessing everything I was doing.
Generally you will know when you need to go. Do not hold off, it will only get firmer and harder to pass. As a rule of thumb, do not wait more than 3 days before going to the midwife or doctor to ask for stool softener- there is no shame here.
Its important to know that even if you have had stitches, you are very unlikely to tear anything when you poop, so please do not worry about this. If you had major stitching to the area, you were probably already prescribed stool softener. To help you feel more secure about the area, try holding a sanitary towel on your perineum.
Things you will need for that first postpartum poop
Number 1, A spray bottle. Nothing fancy, just a wee spray bottle so that you can fill it up with some warm water prior to the poop. You are going to want to spray your Perineal area with the warm water before you start the movement to relax things and you will also want to spray after to help clean the area.
Number 2 (lol), company. Trust me when I say that my first pooping experience was made that much worse when I was sitting on the toilet, bracing myself for what was about to go down and then the inevitable happened. I pushed and pushed to the point where things were starting to happen finally, and then everything in my body convulsed when I heard the sweet little cry of my baby who had just woken up from the nap I begged the Lord for. My baby betrayed my bowels- and what did she have to cry about at this exact point and time? Everything came to a heart-sinking halt and I had to abandon sh*t (pun intended). It would have been easier if I had waited for my partner to be home at the same time to unleash the poop of a lifetime. Also the moral support that he called through the bathroom door was lovely.
Number 3, extreme hydration and vegetable consumption. Trust me when I say this, drink water. Not only will it help you with breast feeding but it will certainly help the poop. Eat tonnes of vegetables and fruit- this might increase your wind and may also pass it onto the baby a bit but if you are able to, eat as much fibre and fruit and veg as possible.
Number 4, If you have waited more than 3 days since having the baby to go for your first poop, perhaps consult your midwife- she should be able to suggest a stool softener. That first poop was one of the hardest (literally) poops of my life and it would have been much more preferred if it had a bit of softness to it.
Number 5, a little footstool. I will never forget the hilarity that ensued when watching the “Squatty Potty” advert on Youtube for the first time. But not only was it hilarious (I love toilet humour), it sparked something within me. Why do we poo the way we poo? Sitting on the toilet is never a natural position to be in while pooping, and it does make it easier to squat. While you are not going outside to dig a trench to squat and poop in, you can still sit on the toilet but have your feet sitting on a footstool so that your knees are slightly higher than your hips. This will help move things along. Also, if you need a video to watch while you are in the bathroom, I would suggest watching the Squatty Potty commercial- you may pee your pants with laughter!
Now that you have the things you need, let me make my postpartum poo method suggestions.
The methods for the Postpartum poo
I sat on the toilet for about 10 minutes before anything happened, just so I could ready myself for what was about to happen. I had looked in the mirror and said “you can do this”. A little bit of self encouragement will never go amiss.
I sat on the toilet and I placed my feet upon the footstool so that my knees were higher than my hips. I then tried to relax for things to happen naturally. I had been advised not to push hard because then haemorrhoids would be the next issue. Also, I had stitches and I was so SO fearful that I would burst them if I pushed too much. My poor nether region was in such disarray.
I spritzed the warm water onto my perineum area which was pleasant and I then held a sanitary towel on this area to feel a bit more secure that no stitches would burst.
Things are beginning…
I was waiting for things to happen- I felt like I was about to go, but I knew nothing would happen unless I pushed slightly so I mustered up the courage and tried to push. Progress was being made. The whole time I was breathing deeply whispering encouraging words to myself as well as some profanities. It hurt slightly and I felt a tonne of pressure.
Well the eagle had taken a very low flight and had come to a grinding halt- it was like it was trapped within me. Instinct took over at this point and I began to rock myself from side to side- hip to hip. This seemed to get things moving again so I decided to rock forward, backwards, left to right all while pushing gently and holding the sanitary towel on my hoo ha. I used my tip-toes too on the footstool. Eventually I was empty, and it felt amazing. I was so accomplished!
Overall the whole process took me about 45 minutes- I took my time and ensured I did not hold my breath to push. In fact I would say the whispering to myself did the trick to ensure this.
I cannot believe that I have just written an article all about my postpartum pooping experience, but I hope this helped you! After my first one, I was nervous for the second and third but eventually it got back to normal and I once again do not mind the experience. To be honest, I started off as a clueless mama-to- be and now that I am getting a bit more clued up, I want to be able to help other ladies who are in the same boat that I was.
Just remember that it is NEVER as awful as you think it is going to be. Also, something else that my sister suggested to me was that I should join the Babycentre July Birth club. This is a community where other Mum’s who had their babies in July were able to discuss things and it was great because a lot of the members in the community were at the exact same stage as me and there were countless posts in the forum about the first postpartum poop which really helped as I knew I wasn’t going through this alone.
Now you are done, run yourself a warm bubbly bath and have someone look after the baby- you deserve a wee break mama.