Imagine you have just had a baby. Your healing has taken longer than expected, but you have finally worked up the courage to venture outside the house. Maybe it is a short trip to the grocery store or a play date at a park. You pack the diaper bag – and it’s your first baby so you pack ALL THE THINGS…
Then you pack YOUR diaper bag. Yes, yours. Similar to your baby, you also need things like diapers, wipes, change of clothes, barrier cream…
Since the birth of your precious baby, you have found yourself not being able to make it to the toilet in time. You may not even feel it coming until it is too late. You are horrified when you have to blame your smell on the baby.
Unfortunately if you have found yourself suffering from fecal incontinence after childbirth, you are not alone. The research is inconsistent and varies from 2%-25% of all births, and is defined as anything from not being able to control gas to complete loss of bowel control. But one thing that the research does agree on is that anal sphincter injuries (3rd and 4th degree tears) greatly increase the chances of fecal incontinence, up to 60% chance.
In our 4th degree tear support group on Facebook, a poll of 249 women showed that 69% of us have experienced fecal incontinence (defined as leaking stool enough to soil underwear), and 89% have experienced gas incontinence, with 64% lasting more than one year.
So when you are getting ready to leave the house for the first time with your baby, you grab the diaper bag for baby… and the diaper bag for yourself. And unfortunately for many of us, we will continue to carry that diaper bag around with us well after our children have outgrown the need for their own diapers.
Here are a few of the items listed by members of the 4th degree tear support group:
- Several pads
- Adult diapers
- Spritz bottle to help get clean
- Baby wipes
- Barrier cream
- Perineal cleaner
- Pair of pants
- Large ziplock bags
- Trash bags
- Bottle of cleaner to clean up the toilet area
- Air freshener
- Body spray
If you suffer from fecal incontinence and haven’t already, please talk to your doctor! Many of the women in our support group have had great success with pelvic floor therapy. If your doctor dismisses your symptoms and tells you that it is “normal”, ask for a referral to a specialist like a colorectal surgeon or a urogynecologist who will take you seriously. Because even though gas and fecal incontinence may be common, they are NOT normal!