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How to successfully take a shit after giving birth

New mum Annabelle Marley tells you everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the messy, indelicate subject of post-childbirth pooping, but were too terrified to ask.

Why are we publishing a post about how to take a shit after birth? Because 1) I vividly remember after both of my births frantically searching for advice on how to poop while also screaming in my head I’M NOT READY TO SHIT YET and I couldn’t find anything and 2) I thought this was so funny I was almost crying reading it. May your poops be ever-successful. Know that we never shy away from the truth here at The Spinoff Parents. – Emily Writes, The Spinoff Parents editor

Warning: contains explicit, no-holds-barred descriptions of defecation. Seriously, you have been warned.

Ladies aren’t supposed to talk about shit – but we do. We also do late-night Google searches in the hope of figuring out how to physically manage a thing that used to be quite natural.

See, this is what happens after you give birth. The simple act of taking a shit is no longer simple. There’s a process.

Before I had my baby I was warned about the first after-birth shit – how it would feel like you were giving birth all over again. For me, I felt the opposite. When I was pushing to deliver I was annoyed at the constant feeling that I was trying to shit, but with no shit happening (or at least they were polite about it, and were not telling me when I did).

I was told that shits would feel like birth again. Not for me. They felt splendid! There’s nothing as pleasant as giving a push and only a turd pops out instead of a human head.

However, taking a shit did now need to be approached with caution.

I’d had an episiotomy, and the midwife suggested I put pressure on my sutures in those first few weeks of pooing. And this is how the process began…

It took some trial and error but here is my recipe for taking a shit after giving birth.

A constipated new mum's best friend

A constipated new mum’s best friend

Equipment needed:

  • 3-6 x kiwifruit – consumed during the day
  • 1 x watering can, or jug – filled with warm water (not hot!)
  • 1 x clean sanitary/nursing pad – or a wad of toilet paper (except TP usually leaves wet bits of paper stuck to your gooch, but I guess we have the water to wash it away)

Step 1: Have you eaten some kiwifruit today? Feel like taking a shit? Good! Offload the baby to someone, or put them in a safe place where you can dash away to begin this adventure.

Step 2: Get your equipment. Make sure you have everything beforehand. I would take a new pad to change into, then use the cleanest part of the removed one. But if you’d rather not use the end of an old pad, perhaps use a clean nursing pad instead. I actually used my old nursing pads too sometimes – waste not.

Step 3: Hold the pad down on your perineum. Nestle it in there, all nice and cosy. Don’t be afraid to apply pressure – the more the better I find, so long as you’re not aiming to punch through it.

Step 4: Push like you would normally to poo. As soon as you push, apply that pressure as much as you can. I used the knuckles in my fingers pressed against the pad. Keep the pressure in place until the very end of your shit. I know, it’s much nicer to use that hand to scroll through articles on all the things you’re now wanting answers to, but trust me – you’re gonna want to hold on!

Now, be aware; you’ll probably piss on your hand. Birth and its aftermath are no place to be scared of bodily fluids. If you pee while applying pressure, do not bother moving your hand away. Soap can fix that. If you happen to know your body cues and are going to pee before or after your poo, use the jug/watering can to pour water directly into your stream – that will take the sting out of the urine. With the pad and pressure in place you usually don’t feel much sting – then you can just wring out the pad and chuck it in the bin, and stare at the wall thinking back on the days when you didn’t regularly urinate on yourself.

Step 5: Treat yourself to a nice rinse off. Pour all that lovely warm water down there. Get rid of all the nice sticky stuff you weren’t prepared to still have coming out of you that’s clinging to your pubes. Wash off the urine. Get rid of any leftovers so that the only wiping you’ll need to do is a pat-dry. Because if you’re like me and needed to have sutures put in then they’ll likely be dissolvable and bits of cotton can appear on the toilet paper when you wipe. The first time I saw this I thought I had worms. That was a fun day.

Step 6: Go get that beautiful baby, and triumphantly praise yourself for having just successfully taken a shit!

Helpful Hint: Avoid in-water toilet cleaners. I share a house and one was put in straight after my birth, so the water was bright blue and I was not keen on getting that up in a delicate flesh wound. So an extra step to taking a shit was to scrunch up some toilet paper and throw it in the bowl beforehand, so that it would dull the splash-back.

I never realised how little I knew about my body until I got pregnant. Only once I was pregnant did anyone bother to tell me about “the month-long period” you get – and even then, they didn’t warn me there’d be colours and textures to that which I hadn’t seen in periods. So when midwives started talking about breastfeeding, nappy changes, sleep times, feeding cues, all I could think was: When do we change ourselves?!

The best answer I found: Whenever we can.

I felt guilty for doing an unlatch-and-dash when the sudden urge to poo appeared – scrambling to get all my equipment together before shitting myself. Sometimes I’d forget something and have to call out to whoever was in the house.

The worst was constipation. I’d much rather shit myself than be a new mum with new mum hormones keeping me fused to my baby yet hearing them cry because they’re hungry and I’m sitting on the toilet with half a shit hanging out of my asshole that’s too thick to even break off if I tried – because actually, I have tried!

This is where kiwifruit and pressure help.

Eat a bunch of kiwifruit to loosen up the bowels. For me it felt like I had clay clogged up in me – that it was stuck to the walls! The fruit helped separate it from the walls and move down smoothly. But by that point it had already been in there a while – plus I’d been sitting down most of the day doing feeds – so everything was just piled up like a Blues Brothers car-crash. So I was facing what was possibly a shit too big to fit out of me.

You know how rocks can be put into a glass of water to make the water overflow? That’s what pressure on the perineum was like. If I pressed my knuckles in, the force inward pushed something outward. Even 9 weeks after the birth – well after my sutures have dissolved – if I hold pressure on my perineum I will have done my shit in a matter of minutes. Then I can get back to the baby and never have to sit there feeling helpless with a shit dangling out of my arse.

Annabelle Marley lives in Levin with her husband and first child. She likes freestyle nursery rhymes, chocolate yoghurt, and yelling at the TV during quiz shows.


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