IBS After Birth: Hormones, Stitches, and Recovery
Last updated: December 2020
After an almost IBS-free pregnancy came the rude awakening. Not only did the illness come back, but it got so much worse! At least at first.
There were so many things related to IBS after birth that I had never even thought about. All I ever worried about was pooping during delivery (which I didn’t, but I wouldn’t have cared either way).
I wanted to write this article to talk about all the aspects of postpartum recovery for me as an IBS sufferer. Before I dive into it, I just need to say that no matter how bad it was, I would do it all over again! And despite everything, I still loved and enjoyed the first weeks and months with my newborn son so very much.
Hormonal changes and flare-ups
For me, hormones always impact my IBS. For instance, I always had worse flares when I was on my period, as well as at the beginning of pregnancy. After giving birth, those hormone fluctuations came back, and so did terrible IBS symptoms that seemed to never go away.
Alongside the flare-ups, the out of whack hormones also made my anxiety come rushing back. I was anxious about my baby (does anyone else check if they’re breathing all the time?), about my struggles with recovery, the stitches I got, and even my future pregnancies. But most of all, my IBS-related anxiety came back so bad. Once again, I was scared of leaving the house. Once again, I did not feel comfortable having people over because they’d witness all my flare-ups.
In addition to that, my anxiety also triggered my IBS, which made me even sicker. And even more anxious. It was such a vicious cycle, and I didn’t know how to get out of it. All I could do is practice self-care as best I could, and wait for it to get better.
Bathroom trips and stitches
With all the flares I was having, I spent a lot of time in the bathroom. Which in and of itself is bad enough, but it gets even worse when you have stitches after birth.
Every time I had to go I was scared that my tears would open up. Or that they would get infected.
The nurses at the hospital had advised me to shower after every time I used the bathroom, but I just wasn’t able to shower 500 times a day, and basically every 5 minutes.
Thankfully, none of this happened. But bathroom trips still really hurt, and were even more stressful than usual!
Feeling sick and weight loss
Now, every situation has a silver lining, and so did this one. As I was feeling really miserable, I actually lost my baby weight super quickly.
Not that I cared that much, really. But everyone around me seemed to be focused on my weight, so they were impressed at least.
Dysfunctional perineum and diarrhea
By far the worst byproduct of childbirth was that my perineum got stretched and torn and kind of stopped functioning for a while. This means that especially during the first days, it was terribly hard to make it to the bathroom in time whenever I had diarrhea. Isn’t that just every IBS-D sufferers’ worst nightmare?
With IBS alone, I already didn’t feel in control of my body. This in addition just made me feel like I could not only never leave the house, but also had to stay within a 5-second distance of the bathroom.
Thankfully, this terrifying symptom started to go away fairly quickly. But it caused me so much anxiety and made me doubt any future children I ever wanted to have!
It’s still all worth it
Despite everything, I was still able to enjoy the first months of my baby’s life. And I would do it all over again if I had to, just to have him by my side.
After all, my biggest problem was pain, diarrhea, and a whole lot of anxiety and embarrassment. But my son was healthy, my fiancé was at home with me, and we were so happy with our new little family.
So yes, recovering from childbirth when you have IBS is difficult. It’s painful and it’s far from glamourous. But then again, which part of life with IBS isn’t?
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