I've written about a lot of things on the Internet. Everything from marriage and sex, breastfeeding and hemorrhoids, circumcision and morning sickness. What's funny is that out of all of it, the thing folks bring up most is the first post-labor poop. Sometimes in the middle of the grocery store. Women come up to me and say, "Wasn't it just terrible? I can't believe how terrible it was." Then they thank me for talking about it.
Of course, no thanks is needed. Honestly, I don't know how you don't talk about it. I wish so desperately that someone would have warned me of this atrocity. I wish even more that someone would have told me what to do to make it less painful.
Some of you will mention you have never had to deal with a difficult first postpartum poop. For some reason or another, you were blessed with amazing bowels or a body that takes labor and delivery like a Duggar. My sincerest congratulations. You dodged a bullet. You are dismissed.
Here's my story:
Two days after I came home from the birthing center with my new baby boy, I knew I couldn't avoid it any longer. It had been six days since anything had passed through my system and it was time. I waited until the baby fell asleep and then quietly slipped into the bathroom. My husband wasn't home so I gave myself a little mirror pep talk and took a few deep breaths. It was go time. Literally.
Ten seconds into the endeavor, I was crying and bracing myself against the wall. Two minutes later, I was on the phone with my OB/GYN asking if it was possible for my vagina to fall out while trying to have a BM. The nurse was very kind and assured me I just needed to relax and maybe take a stool softener. A stool softener? Honey, I've taken seven.
I hung up.
After a few more minutes of quiet screams and pledges to never, ever do this again -- the baby started to cry from the other room. Panic washed over me as I realized I was really in no position to get up. I was in the middle of Anal Armageddon, for Pete's sake. I waited a few minutes, hoping he would fall back asleep, but his cries only escalated. I tried calling my husband, who was painting a house a few miles away, but he didn't answer. I cursed him. I cursed him for not having to do any of the hard parts; labor, a third degree tear and now a situation I can only describe as "ass glass."
Finally, I just faced the fact that this was happening, picked myself up, waddled out to the baby, returned with him attached to my breast, and experienced the worst 15 minutes of my life. Really. It was the worst.
A year later and this memory is the single largest barrier between me and baby number two. In retrospect, I should have done things a little differently, but I didn't know any better.
Here are five tips for surviving that first post-labor poop:
1. Get medicated.
Ibuprofen, Tucks Pads, cooling creams, stool softeners, wine. Do it. Do it all.
2. Apply counter pressure.
It was only after my first post-labor poop that a friend told me to apply counter pressure. It was in a Facebook message and I immediately started crying. Yes! Of course! Applying counter pressure in the front with a frozen pad makes it much easier to go in the back without worrying about anything ripping or falling out. (Tip: Soak a diaper and then put it in the freezer. Take out when you're ready to use the bathroom).
3. Don't do it alone.
Wait until someone else is around before attempting the first post-labor poop. Moral support, plus you won't have to risk bringing the baby into a war zone.
4. Avoid cheese and anything else that will make your stool hard enough to cut glass.
Fruit and veggies are your friend. Prune juice too, if you can stomach it, though I'm pretty sure prune juice contains no prunes. Just dirty feet and garbage.
5. Go to the doctor if it doesn't get better.
Not to freak you out, but my post-labor poops didn't get any easier. In fact, I sh*t glass for six weeks straight before I finally went to the doctor. As it turns out, I had nasty anal fissures as a result of a difficult delivery. Swallow your pride. If it still hurts after a week or so, you might need a prescription to poop in peace.
Now that you have all the secrets, I should probably tell you that no matter what, it's still going to be uncomfortable. That whole situation in general is uncomfortable. Be gentle, be safe and avoid anything that is going to put stress on your body. Two weeks after I had my first baby, we moved and I regretted it for days afterward. My body suffered, especially that part of my body.
What about you? Do you have any tips on post-labor pooping? I know it's awkward for some of us to talk about it. If you ever need to feel less awkward, think about Paris Hilton pooping, because she totally does it too. Everybody poops! And almost every mom has survived a gritty post-labor poop. It's a rite of passage. One that still sends shivers up my spine.