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Bladder and bowel problems

Some women may have difficulty controlling urine, wind or poo after birth. You may notice urine is leaking or that poo is leaking from your back passage.

Pelvic floor exercises

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

Anal sphincter squeezes

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

Anal sphincter squeezes can help control:

  • the release of wind
  • sudden urges to poo (faecal urgency)

How to do anal sphincter squeezes

Squeeze your back passage like you are stooping and passing wind.

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

Try and do at least 10 squeezes 3 times daily.

When to get help

Contact your GP, public health nurse or physiotherapist if your symptoms do not improve in the 6 weeks after the birth.

Stinging when passing urine

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

Contact your midwife or GP immediately if:

  • you find it difficult to pass urine (wee)
  • it is very painful to wee
  • you notice a strong or unpleasant smell from your urine

Constipation

Some women have trouble having a bowel movement 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 pass a bowel motion (poo).

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

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

Talk to your GP or midwife if you go more than 3 days without a bowel movement.

Piles (haemorrhoids)

Haemorrhoids are painful swollen veins around the back passage. These may get worse after giving birth.

Sitting on a floatation ring can give temporary relief but actually make the problem more difficult 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 passing a bowel motion can make haemorrhoids worse.

Talk to your GP or pharmacist about medications.

Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE.

Page last reviewed: 20/11/2018
Next review due: 20/11/2021