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Bladder and bowel problems after giving birth

Some women may have difficulty controlling pee, farts or poo after birth. You may leak pee (urinary incontinence) or poo (faecal incontinence).

Pee can leak as a result of trauma to the pelvic floor or the bladder tube during birth. This will improve as your body heals.

You may find it hard to control farts or poo. This is because a nerve that controls the muscles at the opening of the anus (anal sphincter) has been stretched. This will also improve but doing anal sphincter squeezes will help.

When to get help

Non-urgent advice: Contact your GP, public health nurse or physiotherapist:

  • if your symptoms do not improve in the 6 weeks after the birth

Pelvic floor exercises

Doing pelvic floor exercises after the birth is very important. They will improve your ability to control both the bladder and bowel.

If labour was difficult, wait 6 weeks before doing pelvic floor exercises. This will allow your pelvic floor to recover before you strengthen it.

A hard labour may include:

Pelvic floor exercises

Anal sphincter squeezes

You should also do anal sphincter squeezes as part of your pelvic floor exercises.

Anal sphincter squeezes can help control:

  • farts
  • sudden urges to poo (faecal urgency)

How to do anal sphincter squeezes

Squeeze your back passage like you are passing and stopping wind (farting).

Gently pull your bum cheeks to the side so you can feel the squeeze on the anus. Avoid over-squeezing the bum cheeks.

Try to do at least 10 squeezes 3 times daily.

Stinging when passing urine

You may have some pain or stinging when you pee for a few days. You can make it sting less by drinking lots of water to dilute your pee.

Urgent advice: Contact your midwife or GP immediately if:

  • you find it hard to pee
  • it is very painful to pee
  • you notice a strong or unpleasant smell from your pee


Some women have trouble pooing after giving birth.

Drink lots of fluids and eat foods that are high in fibre. Fruit, vegetables, salad, wholegrain cereals and wholemeal bread are high in fibre.

When your tummy is relaxed, the pelvic floor will often relax. This makes it easier to poo.

How you sit on the toilet can help. Bend forward slightly on the toilet and put your feet on a foot stool.

Avoid pushing. Take your time and breathe like you’re blowing bubbles.

Sit on the toilet bent slightly forward and prop your feet up


Talk to your GP or midwife if you go more than 3 days without pooing.[/ii]

Read more about constipation

Piles (haemorrhoids)

Piles (haemorrhoids) are painful swollen veins around your anus (bum). These may get worse after giving birth.

Sitting on a flotation ring can give temporary relief but actually make the problem harder to clear. Instead, place a folded hand towel under each thigh while sitting. This helps lift your bum up slightly and take the pressure off the piles.

Avoid getting constipation by drinking plenty of fluids and eating foods rich in fibre.

Pushing when you poo can make piles worse.

Talk to your GP or pharmacist about medicines for piles.

Read more about piles (haemorrhoids)

Page last reviewed: 23 August 2023
Next review due: 23 August 2026