Surviving the First Post-Pregnancy Pooby Sarah Hurst
I chose to use the word ‘surviving’ here because let me tell you, there will definitely be a moment at some point when you feel like you may not. Survive it that is.
There’s only one thing harder than pushing a baby out of your hoo-ha (or having them lifted out through the sunroof) and that is contemplating the idea that you will, in fact, have to do a poo at some point after giving birth....(yep, even if you did a poo DURING labour - it’s more common than you think!)
With my first child, I suffered a perineal tear during labour which was so bad, I almost re-named my undercarriage a ‘vaganus’. If it weren’t for the amazing skills of the consultant on call that afternoon I’d have probably accepted my fate and spent most nights crying into my pillow singing “when 2 become 1” - but a million stitches later, independent boundaries were re-established. Thank god for that.
I’ve lost count of the number of midwives, nurses, doctors and porters who talked to me about ‘poo positions’ post labour (that last one mainly because I thought she was a midwife and asked her to explain it to me again!) It’s like a secret club you only get to join once you give birth!
NOBODY tells you how to poo properly before this moment. Not once, in my entire adult life did anyone sit me down and explain the ergonomics of effective pooping - and they certainly didn’t demonstrate the appropriate position to me.... and yet there I was. Wincing on the edge of a hospital bed, newborn baby in my arms, watching another female shove an Argos catalogue under her feet (for height) and bend forward with her elbows on her knees. It reminded me of the day I had to teach my reception class how to wipe their bums when the headteacher decided to come and observe my lesson. I’m not sure which felt weirder!
I was filled up with lactulose and fibrogel to ‘soften things up’, and told that I would have to remain in hospital until I’d done my first poo. Wait. What?!?
Speaking as a human being who finds it almost impossible to poo on a toilet that isn’t my own, this was a terrifying thought. I’ve had ENTIRE holidays away where I’ve allowed nothing but the odd fart to escape from my backside, so I sure as hell wasn’t about to shuffle 10m down a corridor to the ONE shared toilet on a ward of post-birth mothers and keep it occupied whilst I practised my deep breathing and sphincter muscle ‘relaxation’. Oh hell no.
Well, actually I did shuffle down there a couple of times just to see if I gave less of a crap about pooping in public. I wanted to familiarise myself with the surroundings just in case they really were going to keep me locked up I hospital until evacuation had occurred.
On the first attempt, there was a cleaner pottering around outside the door waiting to change the sanitary bin. This was the moment that I realised my pelvic floor muscle may still exist in some form as it forbid me to even urinate whilst another person could hear.
On the second attempt, I was shuffling along when I heard the familiar sound of a child from the class I taught…I then heard her mother calling her name, followed by the cry of a baby. Yep, I was right next door to a parent and child from school. Not ideal.
This brings me onto my first survival point: They can’t make you stay in the hospital, so if you will be more relaxed at home, go home.
Despite going home on day 4, I didn’t find the courage to actually go until after day 7 (and hey, I still lived to tell the tale!) which brings me onto survival point 2: Make sure your knees are higher than your hips, pop your elbows onto your knees and lean forward. This makes it easier – trust me.
Survival point 3: I did joke about ‘breathing’ above, but seriously – in the same way, you’re supposed to ‘breathe out your baby’, you kind if have to do the same thing when doing a poo. Basically, don’t push or strain.
Survival point 4: Ask Dad or a friend to take the baby downstairs and shut the door. I had many a failed attempt when my child started screaming for milk and I then had to breastfeed whilst sat on the loo. They’re just going to have to wait this one out I’m afraid.
Finally, survival point 5: Get yourself a sitz bath. Nobody wants to be wiping down there unnecessarily after having a baby. You can add a bit of salt and tea tree oil too if you want to…or just hop into the shower. Great excuse for a bit of 'you' time…an almost makes it more bearable that you’ll have to do it all over again in a day or two!