Postpartum · Pregnancy

How to Poop After a C-Section

My first baby was breech. He wasn’t flipping back and forth. I was high-risk and had been having so many ultrasounds that I knew he had been stuck like that since 28 weeks, but I still did what I could to turn him.

He wasn’t interested in anything Spinning Babies had to offer. He ignored my attempts to turn him by a number of old-wives type suggestions from well meaning friends and neighbors. I hung upside down off the couch and gave myself heartburn. I put ice packs on my stomach where I could feel his head and instead of moving away from it, he punched at the cold source. Much to my husband’s amusement, I played music near my vagina to lure him to the source. I saw an amazing and kind acupuncturist who taught us how to use Moxibustion, which made our house smell like the schwag-drenched bedroom of a high schooler.

When it came down to game time, I opted against trying External Cephalic Version, or ECV. If you’re doing your own research I recommend reading this article on Evidence Based Birth, “What is the Evidence for Using an External Cephalic Version to turn a Breech Baby?” I scheduled my C-section for 39 weeks exactly.

Pooping after a C-Section. Yes, this is a serious thing.

Between the surgery and the pain killers it took six days post-op before I could poop, and my husband found me in the bathroom crying at 4:30am, à la “I didn’t know I was pregnant” but without giving birth in the toilet. I think I blacked out and came to in painful shivers in the bathroom. I have no memory of getting out of bed, just the pain of trying to poop.

Granted, I took narcotics for about 10 days after the surgery, so keep that in mind. Pooping sucked. It majorly hurt and I was terrified the next time.

Here is what made it easier, as well as where I went wrong the first time:

  • Whenever you are offered stool softeners the answer is “yes, please!”
  • If you don’t have Miralax at home (I didn’t), get some or have a nice friend bring it to you. I mixed it with juice, and found that the most palatable. Seriously, when they start offering it at the hospital start taking it, as it works three days (or about 5 in my case) later or something like that.
  • Here’s the big trick though: make sure you have a pillow in the bathroom with you to bear down on like you’re bracing for a plane crash. You’ll want to push the pillow against your incision area gently with your elbows while you hunker down. I know this sounds weird, but trust me, this will help you so much! (Note: this is also what I didn’t know until the second time I pooped, and it was SO much better.)
  • When your system starts moving things through, keep up with the stool softeners until you can go to the bathroom comfortably. You’ll know when that is for you.
How to poop after a c-section, c-section recovery, pooping after a c-section
Your airline safety card also tells you how to poop after a c-section! Your pillow goes under your elbows in either position.

Now that you know you can poop, here are some other c-section recovery tips:

The pillow can also allegedly help with other things like bumpy car rides (like the one you’ll take home from the hospital), sneezing, coughing, laughing, etc. Believe me, you will do anything you can to keep from coughing and sneezing for about the first week, and that ridiculous pain is totally normal and will get better.

I had friends who also had sections recommend using a belly binder. I didn’t do that, because the hospital didn’t give me one and I was too busy wandering around the house half-naked crying about how hard breastfeeding was to go online and buy one. If you can borrow one from a friend, or get one from the hospital, see if that helps you.

While you’re healing, don’t be afraid to ask for help. I needed my husband to help me get the baby in and out of the bassinet in the hospital, to help me readjust in bed, and he actually had to help me shower the first few times (he even washed my legs in the hospital when I couldn’t bend over – que romantico). Remember, no vacuuming or grocery shopping for 6 weeks, which I highly recommend milking for longer.

Everyone is different and heals differently. Walking helped me a ton to heal, stand up straight, and made me feel human again. I was able to walk about a mile around my neighborhood within 2 weeks, a friend on Facebook who had an emergency section was complaining constantly 4 weeks out, and I know people who never took narcotics and were fine within a week. It’s whatever works for you.

Totally my unqualified opinion, but drugs are your friend. Whatever you do, keep up with the motrin more than anything else and ask for refills if you need them. The last two days I took narcotics it was for car rides, which I recommend if you feel at all questionable.

And things will happen. I fell out of bed one time and while I laid on the floor, I could tell it was taking every ounce of my husband’s strength to not laugh at me. He just waited a few hours before he started making fun of me, and years later I’m still a little bitter.

Remember, you are not alone. My hormones crashed hard after my first baby and I wandered around the house in my underwear crying while hubs told me, “put your pants on, we’re going to the pediatrician,” and that passed. I was topless saying, “give mommy some Percocet!” in other moments, and those shining times passed too. Everything will be funny later, I promise.

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