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Home > Learn > Postpartum > >Postpartum Poops: What to Know About Your First Poop

Postpartum Poops: What to Know About Your First Poop

May 22, 24 10 min

By Dr. Kenosha Gleaton, OBGYN

It’s completely normal to dread your first bowel movement after giving birth, especially given how sore you may be in your nether region.

Being prepared for this postpartum “first” can give you peace of mind and help you get through it until your body is healed and your bowel movements are regular again.

Here we present postpartum poops: what to know about your first poop and how to cope.

Understanding Postpartum Bowel Movements

Your bowel movements will feel different for the first few days after having a baby due to the changes your body went through during delivery. Fortunately, any problems you have with postpartum poops are usually only temporary.

Why Your First Poop Might Be Different

Many of the same muscles used during childbirth are the same as those involved in bowel movements. This includes your pelvic muscles and the ligaments that support your uterus, bladder, and colon.[1] After childbirth, these muscles become weakened and stretched, which can make it difficult to poop efficiently and comfortably.[1]

Tearing of the vagina, perineum, and/or anus during childbirth can also contribute to pain and difficulty with pooping.[1] Urine and poop leakage (known as fecal incontinence) may also occur.[1]

Taking supplements that support postpartum healing may help minimize discomfort during your first postpartum poop. Try our Postpartum Essentials Bundle, which includes a 45-day supply of fiber capsules that can relieve constipation and hemorrhoids.

Common Postpartum Poop Problems

Postpartum poop problems are extremely common. Digestive issues you may experience following childbirth include [1,2,3]:

  • Constipation. Lack of fluids and dehydration may contribute to postpartum constipation, as well as medications given during or after childbirth, such as opioids and iron supplements.
  • Hemorrhoids. Childbirth and constipation are two factors that can irritate existing hemorrhoids and lead to further difficulty with pooping.
  • Fecal incontinence. Poop leakage is often caused by injury to the anal sphincter and fistulas during childbirth.
  • Diarrhea. Rectal muscles that weaken, stretch, or tear during childbirth may contribute to diarrhea.

Preparing for Your First Postpartum Poop

With the right preparation, your first postpartum poop may not be as daunting or painful as expected! Here are tips that may help.

When to Expect Your First Bowel Movement

Your first bowel movement after childbirth can happen as early as the next day or three to four days after delivery—the timeline is different for everyone.[1] Factors that can affect the timing of your first postpartum poop include [1,2]:

  • Method of childbirth (vaginal vs Cesarean-section delivery)
  • Use of opioids and pain medications
  • Diet and nutrition
  • Pelvic floor disorders
  • Certain medical conditions, including kidney disease, thyroid disorders, and cancer

Tips to Make It Easier

If you’re encountering any postpartum poop problems, try to stimulate a bowel movement naturally. Here are some ideas [4]:

  • Increase your fiber intake
  • Eat regular meals at the same times every day
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Try drinking coffee, which may help stimulate the bowels
  • Do mild exercises, with approval from your healthcare provider
  • Use moist alcohol-free wipes, which may help reduce friction and irritation of the perineum and/or anus
  • Use a “poop stool” or stack of books to elevate the knees above the hips, which may encourage easier and less painful bowel movements

Managing Common Issues

Any postpartum digestive issues you have can usually be treated at home and may resolve on their own with time as your body heals. Don’t hesitate to contact your healthcare provider if your symptoms persist or grow worse.

Dealing with Constipation

You may be given a mild stool softener to help with postpartum poops during the early days after childbirth.[1] Other practical ways to cope with constipation include [5]:

  • Drinking up to four extra glasses of water per day
  • Eating plenty of high-fiber foods, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • Avoiding foods known to trigger constipation
  • Exercising every day
  • Using the restroom at the moment you feel the urge

Addressing Hemorrhoids

Many of the same remedies that address constipation, such as stool softeners, can also be used to address hemorrhoids.[1] Topical steroids and a cooling pad infused with witch hazel may also reduce any discomfort associated with hemorrhoids.[1]

Coping with Fecal Incontinence

Postpartum fecal incontinence can be managed with nutrition and/or medical treatments.[6,7]

Ways to treat and manage fecal incontinence include [use both links directly above]:

  • Tracking and avoiding “problem” foods that are greasy, fatty, and spicy
  • Eating more high-fiber foods
  • Drinking lots of water—at least eight glasses a day
  • Doing Kegel exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor

Handling Diarrhea

Diarrhea usually resolves on its own without medical interventions, though some behaviors may help it go away more quickly.[8]

Steps you can take to manage diarrhea include [8]:

  • Drinking plenty of water, juices, and broths
  • Eating a higher amount of foods that contain fiber
  • Avoiding foods that may worsen diarrhea, such as fried and fatty foods
  • Taking probiotics to restore a healthy balance in the gut

When to Seek Help

Keep in mind that your postpartum poops won’t last forever. If your symptoms get worse or go on for a long period without getting better, it may be time to contact your healthcare provider.

Here are signs it’s time to seek help [1,5,9]:

  • Your fecal incontinence has lasted beyond six weeks postpartum
  • You still haven’t had a bowel movement a week after giving birth
  • You have black or bloody stool
  • Your constipation has lasted longer than three weeks
  • You have a fever above 102°F (39°C)

Importance of Self-Care

Taking care of yourself should be a top priority during your early postpartum days and beyond—especially if your bowel movements have you feeling frustrated and unwell. Practicing good self-care will give you the energy and frame of mind needed to take great care of your newborn baby.

Here are self-care tips that can support your personal health and well-being during this time [10]:

  • Rest and sleep as much as you can, such as while your baby is napping
  • Don’t hesitate to ask for help from friends and relatives, no matter how small the task
  • Set boundaries with others so you can relax and heal—such as postponing visitors until you feel better
  • Prepare large batches of easy meals like soups, stews, and chilis that you can save or freeze
  • Consult with your healthcare provider right away if you are experiencing depression or anxiety

Natalist: Supporting You at Every Stage

At Natalist, we understand that your pregnancy journey continues well after childbirth. Check out our many Postpartum products that can support healing and boost your physical and mental health—such as our Postnatal Vitamin and Magnesium Plus drink mix that supports relaxation during your earliest postpartum days.

 


Dr. Kenosha Gleaton is board-certified in gynecology and obstetrics and is the Medical Advisor of Natalist. She received her MD from MUSC and completed her residency at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, NC.

Dr. Gleaton is passionate about women, youth, and mentoring. She is a Scrubs Camp instructor, a program to increase student entry in healthcare, and serves as a Compassion International adoptive parent. She is also a member of the American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology, the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists, and the American Association of Professional Women.  


References:

  1. What To Know About Postpartum Poop. Cleveland Clinic. Accessed February 13, 2024. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/postpartum-poop
  2. Symptoms & Types - Bowel Control. Voices for PFD. Accessed February 13, 2024. https://www.voicesforpfd.org/bowel-control/symptoms-types/
  3. Shin GH, Toto EL, Schey R. Pregnancy and Postpartum Bowel Changes: Constipation and Fecal Incontinence. American Journal of Gastroenterology. 2015;110(4):521-529. https://doi.org/10.1038/ajg.2015.76
  4. Treatments - Bowel Control. Voices for PFD. Accessed February 13, 2024. https://www.voicesforpfd.org/bowel-control/treatments/
  5. Constipation. Cleveland Clinic. July 18, 2023. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/4059-constipation
  6. Understanding Fecal Incontinence After Pregnancy (Postpartum). UC San Diego Health. August 1, 2022. https://myhealth.ucsd.edu/Library/HealthSheets/3,S,60041
  7. ‌Fecal incontinence - Diagnosis and treatment - Mayo Clinic. Accessed February 13, 2024. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fecal-incontinence/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20351403
  8. Diarrhea - Diagnosis and treatment. Mayo Clinic. August 22, 2023. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diarrhea/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20352246
  9. Diarrhea - Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. August 18, 2021. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diarrhea/symptoms-causes/syc-20352241
  10. Postpartum Care: Caring for Your Health After Childbirth. Cleveland Clinic. Accessed February 13, 2024. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/9679-postpartum-care

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