After giving birth to a baby, you would think you could pass anything out of your body. Unfortunately, passing that first bowel movement after labor can be very difficult for some women.

Causes of Difficult Bowel Movements Postpartum
Bowel movement difficulties after birth can be associated with both physical and mental reactions. Physically, the body just passed a large object out of a small hole and the muscles responsible for doing this are the same ones used for bowel movements. Labor can weaken these muscles, so give them time to recover. Another factor is light meals often eaten during labor. Labor may be over in a few hours for lucky women, but for others the time spent in labor can reach more than 24 hours. During this time food intake is limited to Jell-O and popsicles which does not make for a hearty bowel movement at all.

Mentally, passing a bowel movement while sharing a room with another patient can be difficult. Pair this with the fright associated with pushing such a big thing (the baby) out of such a small hole (the vagina), and taking a poo can be one of the hardest things to do in the world!

Important Facts About Difficult Bowel Movements Postpartum
While bowel movements are necessary for optimal health, obsessing about taking a poo will not make the process any easier. Take your time and allow your body to work naturally to eliminate waste. While the first couple of bowel movements may be difficult, they will get easier with time.

Treatment for Difficult Bowel Movements Postpartum
The best line of defense is good eating and drinking habits. Foods rich in fiber paired with a good water intake is important to bowel health after pregnancy. Eating foods like green leafy vegetables and whole grains can also help loosen poo enough to pass easily out of the body. Stool relaxers or mild laxatives can also be used to make the first bowel movements less uncomfortable.