The Adventures of Postpartum Pooping
Updated: Jul 22
The tradition of Ayurveda honors digestion and elimination as the foundations of health. Eliminating waste from the body helps us feel great! And feeling great is what I wish for everyone, especially new mamas!
Pooping can be a bit scary after giving birth, AND it still needs to happen daily. A swollen pelvic floor, perineal tears or an episiotomy, hemorrhoids, and organs that have shifted in location during pregnancy and birth all contribute to sluggish bowel movements, and pain upon bearing down.
To address these issues, do the following:
rest, and drink LOTS of water (or even better, fennel tea is a mild laxative),
gently massage your abdomen in a clockwise direction,
put witch hazel pads on your anus,
apply counter pressure on your perineum while bearing down (because you may need reassurance that your vagina won't fall out into the toilet),
While on the toilet, prop your feet up on a low stool or squatty potty (to position your pelvis optimally for elimination),
make sure what you are eating is promoting easy digestion and elimination (keep reading for more details on diet). In Ayurveda, birth is a seen as a fairly abrupt life event in which the elements of pregnancy - earth, fire and water - are expelled from a mother's body, and replaced by air and space. These new elements are cold and rough, causing digestion to be weak. A new mama needs lots of warmth and nourishment at this time. It is said that new mothers are as vulnerable as their babies. Newborns and their mamas benefit from gentle abdominal massage to stimulate digestion and elimination. The ideal diet for early postpartum aims to bring earth, fire and water back to the body through well cooked gentle foods that are easily broken down and eliminated. Earth is found in grains, nuts, and sweet tasting whole foods; Fire can be kindled with gently warming spices like cinnamon, black pepper, turmeric, cardamom, etc; and Water comes from hydration in teas, broths, etc as well as healthy fats which lubricate the digestive system. When I bring a new mama her first meal after birth, it consists of bone broth and molasses congee- both served warm. This pairing gives the mama's body lots of hydration and nutrients (minerals, fat, and collagen of the broth), as well as digestion-kindling spices, grounding sweetness of molasses, and well-broken-down rice fiber in the congee. These two dishes are soothing to the intestines, and easy to eliminate. Many women leave the hospital or birth center with stool softeners to help them with the pooping process after they give birth. According to WebMD, stool softeners haven't been proven safe for breastfeeding. I recommend you try stewed fruit. It is an all-natural way to keep the bowels moving AND nurture the digestive system as it regains strength. The cinnamon brings fire, the sweet fruit brings earth, and the water adds, well, water. Keeping in mind these principles of bringing earth, fire, and water back to the body, you can find lots of recipes that nourish a new mama, warm her body up, are well-cooked, and easy to digest. Supporting new mamas in their pooping adventures is a job I take seriously, and I wish you all smooth moves.
Life Beyond Birth provides support for expectant parents, and new babies & their families, online and in-person. Find a class or contact Molly at www.lifebeyondbirth.com.