I'm sure you've noticed that transparency regarding pregnancy struggles is trending as women online are openly sharing the not-so-glamorous aspects of pregnancy and childbirth.
While scrolling through my TikTok For You page, I came across the Remingtons — a couple who make videos about the journey to parenthood. In an effort to destigmatize a common postpartum issue, they recently made a video — which has amassed over 8.4 million views — documenting the difficult process of passing a bowel movement after Tiffany Remington vaginally gave birth to their son.
"It's time to poop after birth, and for me it's just as mortifying as birth," Tiffany said at the start of the video.
In the clip, Tiffany hovers over a toilet while explaining that she recently took Colace, a laxative that softens the stool, to help with pooping after birth. It's "actually not as bad at first," she writes on the screen before sharing that her anus appeared "pursed" after giving birth to her first child. Finishing up, Tiffany then asks her partner, Caleb, to check her perineum, and he describes it as "puffy and inflamed."
Users expressed their gratitude for the informative video, with one writing, "Thank you for sharing the raw moments! It makes me feel like I won't be surprised when it comes, so terrifying and no one talks about this stuff."
To learn more about difficulties with postpartum pooping, its causes, and how to manage it, I spoke with Dr. Mary T. Jacobson, the chief medical officer at Alpha, a virtual primary care platform.
When asked about how common this issue of struggling with postpartum pooping is in her experience, Jacobson told BuzzFeed, "Very."
"The female body goes through immense physiologic and physical changes during a pregnancy that involve all organ systems in the body," Jacobson told BuzzFeed.
After a bowel movement, people who just gave birth can experience pain, rectal itching, bleeding, and swelling around the anus, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center.
The recovery period can look different for every individual, but Jacobson says, "After delivery, levels of progesterone drop to prepregnancy levels within 24 hours. However, loss of body fluids, laxity of abdominal wall, and hemorrhoids take approximately six weeks to resolve."
In terms of relatability, thousands commented on Tiffany’s video about their own postpartum pooping experiences: “I fainted when I went to use the bathroom after I gave birth and I had a 3rd degree tear,” one person wrote.
"Fainting after a postpartum bowel movement is an example of a 'vasovagal episode' or 'reflex syncope,'" according to Jacobson. "Physiologically, this is due to failure in the autoregulation of blood pressure and, ultimately, a drop in cerebral perfusion pressure, resulting in a transient loss of consciousness."
So basically, the lack of blood flow to the brain causes one to faint because of the body's inability to regulate blood pressure after one has given birth.