During doula trainings, and from experience working with new parents, I have learned all sorts of helpful tips and tricks to support my clients in finding relief as they recover from labor. Over the years I’ve recommended sitz baths, stool softeners, and hydration in the postpartum period, mostly because I’ve heard it helps when you have that first bowel movement.
Holy buckets I had NO idea!
I have never given birth and while I can empathize with those who share their stories with me, I have no firsthand experience. I recently DID have an experience that gave me SO much more compassion for postpartum women and their bodily functions. I’ve learned a few things on the topic.
Depending on the severity of the discomfort a person is experiencing from hemorrhoids or constipation, these suggestions may be ineffective, slightly helpful, or downright life-saving.
Personally, I would place this in the life-saving category!
If you have experienced constipation or hemorrhoids, you may recall the feeling of a traumatized bottom. You can’t sit comfortably, it feels weird down there, and then there’s the “going to the bathroom” part that scares the pants on you. (Yes, on you.)
Hopefully these tips make it less scary.
Loose fitting clothing is a must. Soft, non-restrictive lounge wear helps you feel more comfortable and makes it easier to move around when the moment hits you. It’s also easier to remove while sitting on the toilet if you get overheated or nauseous while waiting for your body to do its thing. Staying cool by putting a cold washcloth on your neck can help with those symptoms.
Constipation can come with a feeling of pressure. When using the bathroom, do your best not to strain against that pressure. Straining can make the area more painful and prolong the healing process. Be patient with your body, which may mean allowing extra time while using the facilities.
There are a variety of creams and sprays designed to give relief to the anal area. Ask your provider what they recommend and have it on hand in case you ever need it. One tool I often suggest is a sitz bath: a basin filled with warm water that can ease the pain and tension, like a mini-spa for your butt!
While it is imperative to manage your pain effectively, we know narcotics can cause some folks to experience constipation. If you find yourself having these negative side effects, make sure to talk to your provider about options for pain control that won’t leave you feeling uncomfortable. A stool softener is often recommended as well, and can make a real difference.
Two additional tips can be addressed with your diet!
While I’m sure you hear it enough, it is important to stay hydrated. Those extra fluids can help prevent hard, painful stools. Fiber also helps with keeping your bowels moving and the stool soft. Since water and fiber work hand in hand, you will need both to keep things moving more smoothly. Asking your family or postpartum doula to prepare high fiber snacks and meals is a good way to stay on top of this as you recover.
Following these tips can help make postpartum pooping less scary and painful. Be gentle with yourself, and your bottom! And may your recovery be swift and easy so you can spend more time with your little one!