By Kristen, Contributing Writer
Poop happens — and that’s OK. If you’re really worried about having bowel movement, you’re not alone. Take comfort in the fact that a lot of women do have poop during labor, and really, it’s no big deal. Let’s cover the scoop on childbirth poop (and how to handle it) today!
5 Reasons It Doesn’t Matter if You Poop In Labor
Mamas do poop while pushing. It’s true. It’s also true that you may not — many women actually find that their bodies clear out efficiently well before the baby is born!
Many moms find they feel the urge to go to the bathroom over and over (and over) early in labor. This is the body’s way of clearing out and preparing for baby’s descent. It’s a nice sign that “something is starting” too 😉
You can help this process out by keeping your digestive system working smoothly at the end of pregnancy. Some suggestions are:
- Enjoy probiotic smoothies for breakfast (click here for my favorite pregnancy smoothie recipe)
- Get resistant starch in your diet (the smoothie recipe above includes it!)
- Add in oatmeal or other fiber-rich grains. Proper soaking is helpful
- Add extra magnesium into your diet
Enemas used to be routine in early labor, but many mamas find them uncomfortable and they’re really not necessary. Some women do want them, so you can request one (or use a home kit), but there’s no need to have one.
#1: Your Midwives Have Seen It Before
Okay, so what if despite your excellent digestion and by-the-clock bowel movements, you still poop during labor???
The truth is, your nurses have seen it before. Your midwives have seen it before. Your doctor has seen it before. They have all seen it before, and they don’t care if it happens!
I know that you care, and you worry that you’ll be mortified, but none of your birth attendants are going to care. They’ll take care of it and that’s that. They’re used to cleaning up after the people that they’re helping – that’s part of what they do!
And while we’re on it, they won’t get upset if you throw up either. They’ll just clean it up.
#2: You May Not Even Know
I hope I’ve convinced you that your nurses, midwives, and doctors don’t care if there’s a little poop on the scene during labor (I promise, they really don’t).
In fact, they’ll automatically clean it up without making a big deal about it. They’ll wipe discretely and completely – and you may not even realize they’re doing it!
Your baby moves down through your pelvis and the birth canal and triggers the nerves that cause the “bowel movement” sensation. You’ve probably heard stories of many women who felt like they needed to go to the bathroom only to be told “that’s the baby you’re feeling!”
It will likely be hard for you to tell if it’s baby or bowel movement, and it’s most likely baby that you’re feeling 😉
Your baby also puts lots of pressure on everything down there, and sometimes poop can be squeezed out as you push — again, your care providers have seen it all before, and they’ll just wipe it up. You’ll most likely be focused on the sensations of pushing.
The pushing urge is often overwhelming, especially when you’ve had an intervention-free, undisturbed birth and the fetus ejection reflex is triggered. Plus you may feel stretching or stinging while baby’s head is crowning and being born. These sensations are really powerful, meaning you may not realize anything else that’s going on. Your care providers will wipe things up and that’ll be the end of it.
You’re focused on baby, and that’s a good thing 😉
#3: You’ll Probably be Glad to Push!
Regardless of how long or short your earlier labor is, you’ll probably be glad it’s time to start pushing. It’s a change of pace, and for many mamas, a time that you feel you’re more actively making progress.
You may be so happy you’re finally pushing – finally about to meet your baby – that you don’t think of much else. And that’s okay!
#4: Birth is NOT a Spectator Sport
I know I might step on some toes with this statement, but birth is not a spectator sport. You’re not supposed to have tons of people there.
How does this relate to poop in labor?
A woman in labor is incredibly strong, powerful, and awe-inspiring… and she’s also vulnerable. Think about it – if you’d feel mortified at having your uncle, your brother, your mother-in-law, whomever – see you poop while you push baby out, that’s a good indication they should not be there.
This is not a person you feel safe being vulnerable with.
Birth is not an opening ceremony to be broadcast publicly. It’s an intimate time that’s meant to be quiet and undisturbed. Think about how your pet dog or pet cat might give birth – you probably imagine a dark, warm corner of the closet.
You don’t need to give birth in a closet, but dark, quiet, warm – those all lead to a good birth. You can’t have that if Uncle Lenny is sitting in ringside seat waiting for the big finale!
You already know that your care providers don’t care if you poop during labor, and there’s a good chance you feel comfortable and safe with your partner and your doula. They can be there. But other people can wait to meet the baby if you’re worried about what you’ll think of them.
This is your moment, and most importantly, it’s a moment for you and your baby. You want people who won’t bat an eye at normal labor and people who melt into the background while you have those precious early moments with your baby.
Use your comfort level with what they might see as a handy gauge to decide if they should be there or not.
#5: You’re About to Experience Life on the Poop Side Anyways
I hope this can make you smile, Mama, but you are about to live a life of poop. You may have felt strongly poop was just something to flush away as quickly as possible – distasteful or even disgusting. But you’re about to get really, really interested in it.
You’ll intimately know what “normal” baby poop looks like. Warning bells will go off when your baby’s poop has the least change. You’ll worry if it’s runny. You’ll worry if it seems too hard. You’ll worry if it’s too big. You’ll worry if it takes too long between movements 😉
You’ll probably compare your baby’s poop to pictures on the internet.
And you’re probably going to end up with baby poop on you – at least a few times. You’ll clean baby poop from baby clothes, baby blankets, and if you’re especially lucky, baby car seats. Even if you’re confident you’ve got elimination communication down to an art, you’ll still encounter poop.
You’re going to be paying attention to your kid’s poop for the next several years. It’s okay. Poop happens. A little poop in labor is not a big deal.
You will cuddle your baby, someone else will clean up the mess, and what happened in the birthing room is going to stay in the birthing room. Cuddle your baby and enjoy the moment – that first poopy diaper is going to be a big one 😉