toileting after birth

Toileting after Birth: Reduce Pain & Fear

Toileting after birth and post-birth poops – lots of moms fear this after giving birth.  Childbirth is hard on your body (it’s called labour for a reason). Regardless of whether you have experienced a vaginal birth or cesarean birth, that first post-partum poop can be scary and something a lot of women try to avoid. However, did you know that putting off having a bowel movement can make you even more constipated?

The fear of your first bowel movement can be exasperated by stitches (from tearing or caesarean incision), hemorrhoids or fissures, or just the feeling that things are going to fall out. Along with fear, breastfeeding can also lead to constipation as water usually directed to the intestines is redirected to created breast milk.

Below are some great tips for bowel movements, which are applicable to postpartum but also general guidelines that everyone should follow. By following these tips, going to the bathroom after birth doesn’t have to be so scary.

  1. Diet/Water: make sure to keep up with your fibre intake (lots of veggies, grains, beans) and water consumption, especially if you’re nursing!
  2. Toileting Position: use a squatty potty (or a stool, yoga blocks, tipped garbage can) for under your feet so that your knees are above your hips to mimic a squatting position. This squatting position allows our rectal muscles to relax and allows more space for our bowels to empty completely. 
  3. Avoid Pushing/Straining: continuous straining while toileting can cause hemorrhoids or pelvic organ prolapse – so instead, try deep slow breaths with focus on relaxing your pelvic floor muscles. 
  4. Stay Active: go for a walk, move around – exercise has been proven to help speed up our digestion, which leads to less constipation. 
  5. Support you Incision: use your hand or cloth to support the perineum or abdominal stitches.

Check out the video below for more tips to help with toileting after birth!

Sarah Trottier PT

Sarah Trottier, Physiotherapist has a clinical focus in women’s and pelvic health. She currently lives and works in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Disclaimer – Everything shared is for informative purposes only. It is not intended for assessment, diagnosis or treatment purposes. If you feel there needs to be further investigation, please seek out a qualified health care professional for a proper assessment.