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Managing Bowel Movements After Pregnancy


father and mother with toddler and newborn baby



Women who have delivered a baby vaginally will tell you that, after the birth, one of the most daunting "firsts" was anticipating their first bowel movement.

After giving birth, your bowels are often sluggish. This is due to stretched muscles, a sore perineum and the side effects of some pain medications. Most new mothers will have a bowel movement within two to three days after giving birth. For many, it's an intimidating prospect.

To make bowel movements easier:

  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water.
  • Eat foods such as whole grains, bran, dried fruits (especially prunes and figs), fresh fruits, vegetables, and 100% fruit or vegetable juices.
  • If the first suggestions do not work, try using stool softeners (available at drug stores). Use them for a short time only.
  • If you have stitches, you may find that supporting the area with a cool, clean, wet pad is comforting when you have your first bowel movement.


Hemorrhoids are painful, itchy and sometimes bleeding veins that bulge out around your anus. Hemorrhoids can develop in pregnancy or from the pushing and straining of childbirth. They often go away a few weeks after birth. To relieve hemorrhoids:

  • Try not to stand for long periods.
  • Lie down to take pressure off your bottom.
  • Keep bowel movements soft to avoid straining when going to the bathroom.
  • Sit or soak in a warm bath. 

Resources & Links:
HealthLink BC: After Childbirth: Urination and Bowel Problems
HealthLink BC: Pregnancy: Hemorrhoids and Constipation


Last Updated: August 5, 2013