New Mom, New Poop Problems
Photo Credit: Kelly Lacy/Pexels
Becoming a new mom is exciting, scary, and all the emotions in between. You research, read, listen, ask, take classes, and in general are well-prepared for the baby when she/he arrives.
As a new mom, I did all of these things, had the support of my family, friends, and husband, and in general felt ready.
But what I wasn’t ready for were the physical changes that I would go through that nobody told me about, including my doctor.
A few months after giving birth to my son, I was still struggling with holding in my bladder, which I knew was common, but I had no idea that not having rectal muscle control was also a possibility. I learned this lesson the hard way.
One spring afternoon, just a few weeks after my son was born, my mom friend in the neighborhood reached out asking if I wanted to bring the baby out for a walk. I didn’t think twice about it because I knew the fresh air and a walk would be good for me and my little guy. I grabbed the diaper bag, nursing cover, stroller, water bottle, put on a spring dress and walking shoes, and was out the door with baby in 20 minutes. I felt super proud of myself for getting out the door as quickly as I did.
The walk was great. I felt like a new human experiencing sight and sounds for the first time. Even though I was sleep-deprived, the birds chirping and the smell of the flowers blooming felt magical. This was all short-lived because 10 minutes into the walk, out of nowhere, I felt a sudden urge to go to the bathroom. Specifically, to go poop.
I wish this was something that my OB-GYN had educated me about. I wish this was something that other moms spoke about in mom groups. But it wasn’t and really isn’t.
We’ve all been in instances where you have to poop and you hold it in until you can get to the bathroom. This wasn’t one of those instances. The urge was so strong that my body decided to concede, and I popped myself involuntarily. I had no choice in the matter, no control, and was utterly embarrassed.
I told my friend what happened, and she didn’t even bat an eye. She said this happened to her with her first pregnancy and it eventually goes away. I was shocked! Why didn’t I know these things?! I wish I could say I was laughing during all of this, but I wasn’t. My hormones got the best of me, my body was exhausted, and I was beyond embarrassed. After my friend helped me get home and get cleaned up, I started doing some research on this topic.
I learned that anal incontinence after childbirth is more common than previously believed. According to NCBI, it’s reported that incontinence of stool in women ranges from 2-6%.1 I learned that because I had a fourth-degree tear due to the traumatic nature of my delivery, it most likely impacted the muscles of my anal sphincter.
I wish this was something that my OB-GYN had educated me about. I wish this was something that other moms spoke about in mom groups. But it wasn’t and really isn’t. Having a child is a traumatic event for our bodies and can take years of healing postpartum. My son is turning 3 and I’m still struggling with incontinence. I’m less embarrassed about it and openly share with my mom friends because this is part of the human experience.
What are some things you’ve learned about pregnancy and postpartum along the way?