Wednesday, April 1, 2009

postpartum plumbing problems

As I mentioned in my last post, there's been a bit of a battle "chez nous" in regards to toilet usage. This issue has been complicated by the fact that -I can't believe I'm writing this- since Andrew's birth I can't go to the bathroom without a plunger nearby.

I'm not kidding.

You know that saying? The one about the brick? Yeah, well I give it new meaning. Not only does every, uh, movement leave me grasping the side of the tub in agony, but it brings back rather sharp memories of Andrew's birth. And it requires aggressive use of the plunger afterward. Every. Single. Time.

I don't know what's going on, but it's embarrassing. I'm not eating any differently. I'm drinking MORE water than before since I can now go more than 15 minutes without needing to pee. I drink a smoothie most mornings that is primarily made of spinach.

So what's going on??

Has pregnancy ever had this effect on you? Or rather being postpartum and breastfeeding? Postpartum poop problems? Do you think the issue is diet related? Maybe all the fat in my diet is being diverted to my breast milk (which would also explain why Andrew is such a chunk)? I know that the Castor oil I drank to help induce labour certainly loosened things up, so would lack of fat in my diet have the opposite effect?

If you have a dilemma that needs solving, add it to the list over at We Are THAT Family. If you have any ideas or advice FOR ME, please share. I will thank you, Peter will thank you, and our plumbing will thank you.


  1. No help for you...but just wanted to let you know you're not alone! I am 2.5 weeks postpartum and having the same problem. I'll watch to see if you get any good advice.

  2. I am the type of person who runs low on iron so I can eat copious amounts of spinach with no issue. I would be surprised if spinach did that to you, but then you never know. I know when I was on Weight Watchers they would suggest that each healthy person should have 3 oils a day. And they meant, staight oil (or in salad dressing, not cooked). So 2 tablespoons of olive oil, flax or grapeseed, one of those healthy ones, each day. I don't know if it would help your "problem" but it wouldn't hurt.

  3. I had the same problem after having my little one 6 months ago. I tried the diet stuff... but it didn't work. Finally after deciding the agony had to end, I sent my husband to the store to buy a doctor-approved-breastfeeding-friendly stool softener with laxative. I took the maximum dose and waited. It still hurt at first, but got a lot better. I continued to use the pills but took less and less over the next couple of weeks. Finally, I could go on my own like before I had the baby. My other tip is to make sure you go once a day (once it is comfortable)otherwise the waste sits in your body and becomes hard. I know this is TMI, but I know your pain.

  4. I'm a first-timer, and I was shocked that when I was in the hospital, they gave me a stool softener. I quickly found out why.

    I continued taking them at home for a few weeks until things smoothed out a bit and I was able to get back on some sort of schedule with eating and...other things. I don't know what I would've done without that.

    I would say that trying to add some good fats to your diet might help, and I took flax seed pills while pregnant (and occasionally now when I remember). No bad taste and easy to swallow.

  5. Spinach is not always your friend. It does different things to different people. Try Benefiber- no taste and no stimulants. Not sure if it passes to breastmilk, so check the labels. Talk to your OB about this, too.

  6. Flax, flax, flax!!! Take it from me, 7 times experience here...Nuff said! ;o)

  7. um... ya... postpartum thoroughly screwed me up... apparently permanently because Olivia is 2 now... although I am still nursing at night (ya, I'm totally one of THOSE moms who nurses forever).

    Have you tried taking Acidopholus (not sure if I spelled it right, but it is the stuff in yogurt except more concentrated) pills? You can buy them over the counter (I get mine at the grocery store), they are cheap, and they work wonders.

    I have been giving them to my son Owen who has struggled for over 2 years with horrible constipation and it has cured him in less than one month. Amazing.

  8. You didn't mention anything about stool softners. Have you tried them?

    With each child I stocked up my medicine cabinet. I can't say I ate very healthy, so I know the the stool softeners were the reason for a smoother transition.

  9. I took the stool softeners for a week or two postpartum, but haven't for awhile.

    The issue isn't that I'm constipated, it's just...

    (there's really no pretty or delicate way to talk about this, is there??)

    ...the size and the consistency.


    It's seriously like a brick. I didn't even think it was possible for a colon to be shaped like that! And it sinks right to the bottom of the bowl.

    And just sits there.

    No amount of flushing can handle those suckers. If it does manage to make it's way out of the bowl, it doesn't get far.

    Ergo the need for a plunger.

    I'm definitely looking into increasing my intake of fat (specifically butter, coconut oil and flax oil).

    Thanks for all your advice and for commiserating with me!

  10. The fact that you are in agony and the consistency... I'd say you are constipated. That said, it doesn't mean you aren't going to go everday or that you can't go - obviously that's not a problem. I agree with the stool softener suggestions. I'm a labor nurse and currently 1 week postpartum. I take 3-4 stool softeners a day. Last pregnancy I developed a postpartum anal fissure from constipation and let me say the pain was as bad if not worse than childbirth. If you do try stool softeners for a week or so and still have problems, I'd call your doctor.

    Oh, and I applaude your willingness to post this - I toyed with the idea of posting about postpartum hemorrhoid relief... funny how desperate we can get for relief in this region :-)

    Oh and the iron in spinach may be adding to the constipation, and prenatals if your still taking them.

  11. I had a terrible time with this after my last baby. I was in misery for about 12 weeks (or more) postpardum and ended up with a anal-fussion tear. I started taking stool softeners regularly, eating lots of fiber, and strangely enough, I think drinking coffee helped. This pain was by far the worse pain I've ever experienced, including giving birth to a 9 lb. baby.

  12. I found that I was more easily able to go. I didn't have ANY issues (they give you a pill at my hospital right after birthing that you need to take each meal till you leave).

    I hope you find a solution!

  13. I totally agree on the Acidopholus pills. I found these in my local Sprouts (whole foods type store). I keep them in the fridge near the yogurt. I take a caplet and a yogurt and the two make friends in my belly, and make everything better!

    Iron definately screws everything up. I would highly recommend you continue with the stool softener. It will help with the size and thickness.

    I learned something new! Flax sounds like something I need to incorporate more of.


  14. Ug. This is one of the things no one told me about after my son. Now, with my daugther the same thing is happening (6 weeks post-partum).

    I do know that I need to drink more water - but I already drink a ton! With my son I tried prune juice etc. which was not fun, but I think I made things worse with him because I would stop going, probably because I was scared of the pain.

    This time, I'm not sure what the deal is. I do agree with the previous poster, coffee seems to help!

    Oh, to us mothers and all we go through ;)

  15. are you taking iron? Iron will do that to you. Make sure you are taking a stool softener.

  16. Maybe try the flax suggestion? I didn't really have this problem after my babies, I think I actually had the opposite and was a bit constipated. SO not fun for you!! Hope it fixes itself soon.

  17. After reading your comment Amy, I totally agree with those who have posted regarding iron. Spinach is loaded with iron and vitamin A both which can cause that issue. Your plan of action should bring you some relief (and eliminate the need for labour breathing during bathroom time) definietly need to add some fat to help 'bulk' the stool up. I add a tbsp(or two) of flaxseed oil(I also switch periodically with hempseed oil) to my morning smoothie or I eat a tbsp of coconut oil (yummy!!)(as well as a scoop or two of Nancy's yoghurt)

    Another thing I take regularily is fish oils an Omega 3,6,9 mix I do believe. I'm not sure exactly which has helped but I do know that after 15years of suffering from IBS, I am finally at a perfect medium when it comes to #2's!! ;o)

  18. Fibre is your friend ;). I use a natural fibre that I mix in yogurt (you can put it in shakes, water, milk) works miracles for me really. I am still nursing (19 months later and am trying to stop) so I need nursing friendly stuff.

    Best wishes, it sure isn't pretty.

  19. With my first two, I drank two small glasses of prune juice every day for a couple of weeks and I never had issues. With my third, for some reason, I forgot about the juice...until I umm...remembered it. Hope something works for you soon.

  20. The second I take extra iron I'm in agony myself. I take prenatal vitamins every few days and eat right and refuse to take extra iron. If I do, Lord have mercy, it's just awful. And check if you are taking any other meds that can keep you from moving right along... I'm taking Zofran and it's one of the culprits. Spinach is loaded with iron, so perhaps you should switch to a green with less.

    I'd dump any iron and supplement with as much dried fruit and liquids as you can handle. :-)

  21. Oh Amy, I love that you post this stuff. I just snorted from laughing, although I really am feeling bad for you. I've heard the same thing about iron - that it "solidifies" things. Maybe go back to the stool softeners? I haven't had this problem (yet) but I know that the one they gave me at the hospital sure helped for the first time or two! Love you! Keep me posted! :)


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