It’s natural to be nervous about your first bathroom experience after giving birth. A quick internet search will find that there are hundreds of horror stories out there of pain and suffering. You might be wondering how it could possibly get worse than actually having your little one, but as you know, other body parts are impacted by birth as well.
We won’t sugar coat it — using the toilet can hurt after birth. Your first BM can be a scary thing, especially after tearing and stitches (don’t worry you won’t rip them), and even urination can seem more daunting than it ever has before. Many women are not effectively counseled about the difficult process of the first bathroom break after birth, but there are ways to help manage the discomfort.
When at the hospital, most women will receive a gift from the postnatal-gods called a peri-bottle. This little spray bottle can be used to facilitate urination (and more solid BMs) long after the hospital stay is over. Fill it up with warm water and make sure to spray before, during, and after urination for best results. Wiping can be especially painful, so try to stick to the spray for at least a couple of days after birth. Women who have had tears can experience more pain, so ask your healthcare provider about the safest over the counter pain medications to use during this time, in case you end up needing them later.
Just like with so many other types of pain, some of the best ways to soothe your body involve applying either heat or cold. Both can help, although in this case, while cold can be soothing, and can help temporarily numb pain, it's by applying heat that you'll have a better chance of helping your body heal a little faster.
One of the most common and soothing ways to apply heat to your private parts is with a sitz bath, which is a low, shallow bath filled with a few inches of hot water. When you've filled the bath, just lower yourself slowly into the hot water and breathe deeply. Heat application can also be used in tandem with cold for numbness, and witch hazel, a natural astringent that can help soothe pain or itching.
Witch hazel is used most effectively on pads or washcloths — you can buy pre-soaked witch hazel pads, which are usually marketed for hemorrhoid relief, or make your own by soaking pads, and then chill them in the refrigerator before sticking them in your underwear. If you choose the washcloth route, make sure to use ones you’re not afraid of getting dirty or even throwing away. These can be frozen as well for a cooler effect. As many women know, cranberry juice can also provide a little urinary relief.
Urination is sort of imminent after birth, but your first bowel movement might not come for several days after you leave the hospital. This is where most women struggle, especially during the first bowel movement, but there are some time-tested tips that will allow your body to regulate itself as swiftly and painlessly as possible.
If you’re really afraid to go, which is completely natural, just remember that even if you strain really hard, you will not cause any damage. Holding it in will hurt worse in the end then just letting it out.
To ease pain and boost confidence about bursting stitches, fold a pad in half and hold it next to your perineum or over your stitches to support your pelvic floor. This will reduce the pain that occurs from the downward movement of your perineum. You can also heat up baby wipes, prop your feet up on a stool to aid bowel positioning, and talk to your healthcare provider about other positions might help your body out.
A little pain is natural, but if painful BMs continue to occur, don’t be afraid to see your healthcare provider.