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Home / OB/GYN Help

Toilet pain: When a visit to the bathroom is a struggle

By Lolita Bunde | 6 months ago | 5 min read

 After childbirth, most women will suffer from bowel and urinary incontinence (Image: Shutterstock)

Did you know that the average person visits the toilet 2,500 times a year? Well, that explains why it is known as the call of nature and how important it is for us to value our toilets.

Pursuant to this year’s theme ‘valuing toilets’, how much care and attention do you give the restroom?

To this date, more than 4.2 billion people lack access to safely managed sanitation and are at risk of disease. That aside, there is more to a toilet than sanitation and access.

What if you had a toilet at your disposal, but could not use it? What if the last thing you wanted to see was the bathroom?

As we mark World Toilet Day, we take a dip into the bathroom struggles women go through after childbirth and how they cope.

Undoubtedly, bringing life into this world is the most phenomenal and glorifying stage in any woman’s life that can easily be humbled by a toilet seat.

After childbirth, your body goes through numerous changes, among them your bowel movement and peeing tendency.

What should be a natural release and relief of body fluids and solids could quickly become your source of stress and anxiety postpartum.

Women who have had a C-section will tell tales of the pain and strain their incisions cause during bathroom breaks, while those who have undergone a vaginal birth, experience tenderness around the perineum, with stitches causing intense pain.

While you can try to hold back the call of nature, you can only do it for so long before it is time to let go and face what could be the most excruciating pain of your life.

When Marylyn Kosome, a sales analyst, held her baby in her arms for the first time, she was exhilarated, oblivious of the physical pain that was to follow. She even had to use a catheter for the first three days to help her pee.

“I had a CS and moving from my bed to the washroom caused so much pain, not to mention I was constipated. It was hell!”  says Kosome.

“Going for a long call made me feel like my wound would bust open. I had to wait until I was really pressed to go to the loo and while at it hold my stomach down and shed tears.”

Sonia Aima, a social welfare officer, says she braved the pain like a soldier in war after the birth of her first child. After all, fellow mothers had told her it was normal.

“The second time around I was prepared, I had a basin, more like a sitz bath that I would put on my toilet seat and sit on salty warm water before and after toilet use. I took laxatives and reduced my carbohydrate intake,” says Sonia.

Dina Aguda, a high school teacher, says her bathroom breaks usually took less than five minutes but after childbirth, she had to wait an entire 20 minutes to relieve herself.

“You have to be patient, the process will take a little longer and I cannot forget the burning urine sensation.”

She adds, “I had to cut down on carbs and take a lot of fluids and fruits. My nurse advised me to sit on warm salty water after every bathroom break.”

Bianca Renee, a popular fashion model and YouTube personality, describes postpartum pain as being worse than labour in one of her vlogs.

“My pain lasted two months. During the first few days, a nurse had to help me sit on the toilet. The most painful part about postpartum is going number two; you will start praying if you do not usually do,” says Bianca.

In the video she can be seen with a box full of products like jumbo pads, a spritz bottle she uses in place of toilet paper, a sitting pad and a herbal perineal spray which she says helped cool her perineum.

While the postpartum road might seem rocky and mucky for most, for others like Cynthia Akach, a journalist, her experience was rather smooth and painless.

“I was lucky to have zero stitches. The following day I was pooping comfortably. I was not even constipated. I do not mind having another baby soon,” says Cynthia.

 Alot of women ignore kegel exercises after birth that help prevent urinary incontinence (Image: Shutterstock)

What really causes the pain postpartum? Dr Johnstone Miheso, a consultant obstetrician and urogynaecologist says childbirth damages the pelvic floor sphincter muscles, hence the difficulty and pain during bowel movement.

Also, the perineum is made to stretch and strain but the vagina is not as accommodating; this sometimes leads to tearing and hence stitching, which causes a burning sensation when passing urine.

It is for these two major reasons that women will experience pain and discomfort postpartum, not unless there are other infections or complications that could be hindering the healing process.

“Women are different. Some will not experience the pain while others will take days or weeks to heal,” says Dr Miheso, who further explains that within 10 days the pain should clear.

“In case of any leakages both front and back, persistent pain, blood in your stool or worst case scenario faecal matter coming out from the front, seek medical help immediately,” he says.

He goes ahead to explain that a lot of women ignore the importance of Kegel exercises during pregnancy and after, and this could lead to urinary incontinence.

“If you do not know how to do Kegel exercises, see your gynaecologist or nurse for assistance. A lot of women contract their stomach muscles instead of their pelvic floor muscles, which is all wrong,” he says.

Painkillers, laxatives and sometimes antibiotics will help hasten the healing process. However, in place of salty warm water Dr Miheso recommends using ice bags as a preferred coolant. 

“Yes, salty warm water works, but I do not encourage it as a lot of women will use large portions when you only need a pinch of salt,” he says.

He further advises women to focus on a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables and water.

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