Real Talk: What It’s Like Going to the Bathroom After Childbirth

a surprising pain point of the fourth trimester
written by Amanda Shapin Michelson
Source: @fridamom
Source: @fridamom

It’s pretty normal to fear childbirth. And I was scared of pushing a giant watermelon-sized baby out of such a small space. What I didn’t know before having my first baby was a similar fear pops up after the baby has arrived. And that’s the fear of your first post-baby bowel movement. Yup, the first postpartum poop is scary.

I definitely didn’t think about this post-birth moment until I heard the persistent advice from every seasoned mom I knew: take the stool softeners the hospital offers.

Once the baby is out many women are left sore, swollen, and downright uncomfortable down there. Even my recovery nurses and doctors commented that it can be really awful, but it is usually fine. If you experienced tearing during childbirth and have stitches, it’s common to feel like the stitches are going to burst in those first bathroom experiences. My nurses reassured me this rarely happens. And another fun—not often discussed—fact about postpartum is that many women experience hemorrhoids. So, as you might imagine, that doesn’t make the bathroom situation any better.

Once that first postpartum bowel movement is out of the way, it can feel like a major relief. Congrats, you did it! You both birthed a baby and went #2 afterward. The good news is you survived your first post-birth-poop. The bad news is, it can be pretty uncomfortable for a while. And quick bathroom visits might be a thing of the past for a few weeks.



Here’s a little glimpse into what the bathroom situation is like after having a baby while recovering from childbirth:

  1. Do your business
  2. Turn on the sink faucet to allow the water to warm up
  3. Fill your peri bottle with said warm water
  4. Spray yourself (no wiping with toilet paper for a couple of weeks)
  5. Change your pad (or adult diaper if that’s more your recovery style)
  6. Spray yourself with Dermoplast (or similar pain-reducing spray)
  7. Put Tucks Pads on top of your pad
  8. Carefully pull up your lovely disposable underwear (or diaper) without disrupting the delicately placed Tucks Pads and enormous hospital sized pad
  9. Move on with your day

No big deal right? It’s only a casual nine-step routine. To make it better, sometimes there is a hysterical and hungry newborn yelling at you from the bathmat as you complete your bathroom adventure. Also, don’t forget you should be drinking loads of water to stay hydrated, so in about an hour get excited to do it all over again. Pro-tip: sometimes it’s just easier to take a quick shower after going to the bathroom.

I’m not making this sound fun, am I? But, in all honesty, I had no idea this was what was waiting for me on the other side of new-mom life. For me, a warning would have been helpful. I hope this information serves you well as you prepare for this strange phase of motherhood with some idea of what to expect.

Eventually, your bathroom visits will return to their normal state (except that now you can expect your child to follow you in there for the next few years, fun!).

Oh and since you’re here I’ll remind you one more time, take the stool softeners.