Updated: Jul 11
I ask all my moms about their bowel movements, and I usually get a vigorous assurance that they have no problems at all.
But GI issues affect 72 percent of people, and (at least) 16 percent of Americans suffer from constipation.
These problems are aggravated by pregnancy and postpartum due to hormone fluctuations, and the potential for developing pelvic floor dysfunction during this time.
The truth is, even if you poop every single day you might not be "normal."
So What Is Not Normal?
Normal bowel movements are extremely variable and dependent on the individual. Normal pooping frequency ranges from 3x a week to 3x a day.
I personally believe that daily bowel movements are an important indicator of regularity and healthiest for the GI system.
One indicator of normal is how you feel after you have a bowel movement. You should feel as though you completely emptied.
It is not normal to have pain with bowel movements.
It is not normal to have to strain for bowel movements.
Healthy bowel movements will not necessarily be urgent, but urges should be attended to right away.
What Does Normal Look Like?
Normal bowel movements are soft, formed, and occur at regular intervals, such as every morning around the same time.
Normal textures of bowel movement would be a 4 or 5 on the chart above.
I would add that normal includes the description above and the absence of bloating, reflux, GERD and GI pain throughout the day.
Normal bowel movements are not painful, do not require straining, and do not require more than 15 minutes on the toilet at a time.
Normal bowel movements feel like complete emptying afterward.
So, let's ask again. Are your bowel movement normal?
Help! What Do I Do To Fix My Bowel Movements?
The pelvic floor plays a large role in bowel health. The muscles of the pelvic floor need to be able to fully relax to allow for complete emptying.
Tight and spasming pelvic floor muscles will result in a need to strain as well as pencil thin stools that are actually soft in texture.
Needing to excessively wipe also suggests problems within the pelvic floor.
Tight pelvic floor muscles can lead to constipation issues, as stool is not able to completely empty. Stool left in the rectum will become dry as water content is taken out of the stool, making it more difficult to pass.
If you are dealing with GI issues, pelvic floor physical therapy can help. Your pelvic floor physical therapist will educate you about the need to assess the pelvic floor.
For individuals dealing with GI issues, a rectal assessment is the best method for evaluating what is going on in the pelvic floor.
Abdominal massage and visceral manipulation can also help to improve GI symptoms, and your pelvic floor physical therapist often can provide this service to you as well.
GI issues are very important to resolve, as they can create issues with quality of life as well as impact bladder and sexual health.
If you are dealing with GI issues, make sure to book your appointment with pelvic floor PT today!