Advice on going to the toilet after giving birth

You may feel like you're never going to dare go to the toilet shortly after giving birth, especially if you have sutures. But bear in mind that many women have been there before you and got through it, and we have all kinds of tips and help for you.

Here are some tips on coping with going to the toilet after giving birth. Further reading: Life after childbirth

• For peace of mind, press a clean sanitary towel/pad against your vulva/vaginal opening to counteract the feeling that "your insides are going to fall out".

• It's obviously important to keep your bowels moving. Give yourself enough time alone in the loo. If you are constipated and find you are straining, try to adapt your diet. Ask a health professional for advice.

• If you have 3rd-degree tears (affecting your anus), doing a poo may be a bit worrying the first few times. If you are anxious, talk to your doctor, who may prescribe a mild laxative to ease things along.

• Alternatively, there are natural laxative foods you can eat like prunes, ripe banana, pear, plum juice and cauliflower…

• Keep up your fluids so you don't get constipation from dehydration. Remember that if you are breastfeeding you'll need to drink extra.

• If peeing stings, do it under the shower, spraying down below with nice lukewarm water as you pee.

• You need to take extra care with hygiene at this time to prevent infection, so ideally, shower after every trip to the toilet.

• Arch your back when doing a poo; this adds a bit more pressure to help empty your bowels.

• When peeing, bend forwards slightly so any tears or sutures are kept away from the urine.

• Rinse with water afterwards. This is partly to prevent infection, but also because it is cooling and relieves stinging.

• If you are worried about the flow, smell or appearance of blood/discharge after giving birth, consult a health professional. Keep yourself as dry as possible and change pads regularly.

• Many women also worry about pain down there. Stock up on sanitary pads, wash cloths, moisturising lotion and try to relax.

• If you are swollen in your vaginal area, it may feel good to apply a cool cloth against the swelling after going to the toilet. A bit of crushed ice well wrapped in a towel has a good effect.

• To promote healing, keep up your pelvic floor exercises; clenching and releasing inside your vagina stimulates the blood circulation in the pelvic region and reduces swelling.

• Gels and pain-relieving ointments are also available to numb the pain. Consult a health professional about what to use.
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