The first postpartum poop is something few people think about during pregnancy, but nearly everyone worries about in the hours and days after giving birth. Whether you have a vaginal birth or c-section birth, most people are afraid the first post-birth will be painful. After all, almost all of the structures involved in having a bowel movement are tender, stretched, and weakened, and for some, there are stitches (whether from a tear or cesarean). The good news is, there are many things you can do proactively to reduce or eliminate (pun intended!) the pain of your first postpartum poop.
Though some people may have an earlier bowel movement, most people do not experience the urge to go until 2-3 days or more after birth. This gives your body some time to rest and heal, and allows you to proactively prepare.
Tips for an Easier First Poop After Birth
Smooth(er) moves – Most medical professionals (OB, midwife, nurses) will administer a stool softener medication, like Colace (docusate sodium), shortly after you give birth. Unlike a laxative, a stool softener doesn’t increase the urge to go, but instead softens your stool by adding water into it, which makes passing stool much easier. This may be TMI, but when you take stool softener as recommended and you finally feel the urge to go, stool slides out easily, with very little effort. Stool softener is safe to take while breastfeeding.
Drink up – Water, that is. Staying hydrated after birth and throughout postpartum benefits you in many ways, including the quality of your poop. The more water you drink throughout the day, the softer and easier your stool is to pass when the time finally comes.
Choose food wisely – Fiber-rich foods, like certain fruits, veggies, and seeds, taste delicious, help your body heal, provide critical energy, and most importantly, help you poop! Increase the amount of fiber in your postpartum diet and at the same time, reduce constipating foods like dairy, red meat, and gluten-containing foods.
Wait for it – Only poop when you have the urge to go, and when you finally do, don’t hold your breath and bear down hard. Instead, take slow breaths, relax your body, and use only small, gentle pushes. Take your time and remember to keep breathing.
Poop-friendly positions – Now’s the time to use the Squatty Potty® if you have one. If not, find a small stool to bring your feet up and help you get into more of a squatting position, which is the most ergonomic position for easier elimination.
Go easy on clean up – When it’s time to wipe, use water first — assuming you have a peri bottle (most hospitals send you home with one and homebirth midwives recommend you order one for postpartum supplies), spray your bottom with warm water before using anything to wipe. Wipe very gently with a wet wipe and/or a Tucks medicated pad. Let your bottom air dry or, if you want to get rid of some of the moisture, pat dry only with soft toilet paper.
With a little bit of preparation, your first poop can be much easier and less painful than you fear.