Pooping during labor and delivery

I hate to break it to you all, but those muscles that you are going to use to push that baby during labor and delivery? They are the same muscles you use to do your business in the bathroom. So, be prepared — you might poop!

The possibility of Pooping during labor

When I found out I was pregnant with my first child — after my initial panic attack of course — I had but one simple question about the whole labor and delivery business.

Would I poop?

Yes, it's a blunt and rather "out-there" question, but let's be honest — nothing about your body or its functions seems private once you're pregnant. You pee on a stick to find out about your little bundle of joy, you get poked and prodded with each doctor's visit, and perfect strangers think it is acceptable to manipulate your belly and talk to you in strange, high-pitched voices as if they have lost their minds.

So, a little straight talk about poop isn't really that far-fetched.

All cleared out

I'm not the only one who was concerned about the less-than-glamorous aspects of delivery. Back in the day, doctors routinely gave women in labor enemas to help clear them out in hopes of reducing the risk of infection. However, the medical community concluded that enemas didn't reduce the risk of infection and equally as significant, women in labor weren't a fan of them.

Luckily for all of us, the standard enema before being wheeled down to the delivery ward was discontinued. And although, admittedly we can all breathe a sigh of relief about passing that lovely little birth tradition, (Seriously, do you know what getting an enema entails? We're talking a tube up the nether regions, people.), it still doesn't exactly solve the quandary of to poop or not to poop.

On a mission

I went into my first labor petrified to poop. I made it my mission to ensure that I was effectively cleared out before the big moment arrived and made several trips to the bathroom to help my mission along. Luckily for me, no food and a 16-hour labor also helped deemed my mission a success. I have only my husband's word, but I'm pretty sure I made it through that delivery poop-free. And in the subsequent delivery that followed, I know child number two was also spared the number two. My husband's lips are sealed about delivery number three — although to be honest with you all, by that one, I really couldn't have cared less.

Newsflash: It's OK to go

Along the way from child number one to child number three and all of my concern for number two, I also was fortunate enough to land my dream job working as a nurse in labor and delivery. And while I was there, I learned some very important lessons about pooping during delivery.

  1. It happens to the best of us. I'll tell you one thing about the labor and delivery unit — it's a great equalizer. Yes, some women go in dressed to the nines, with their hair done and make-up pristine, but when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of childbirth, no one escapes. And if you come in with a stomach full of food, chances are it's going to come out.
  2. It is honestly not a big deal. Ladies, you heard it here first — your poop is not that exciting. What? You may think, "But I'd be so embarrassed!" I'll say it once, twice or say it again, but poop is poop and it's something that any nurse has seen a thousand times over, sometimes in the same day. (That's an exaggeration, but it feels like that some days.) Nurses do not care if you poop.
  3. If you can poop, you can deliver a baby. So here's the big thing — do you know what I do when I see a patient poop while she's pushing? I get really excited! Not because I'm some kind of weirdo, but because if she is pushing hard enough to poop, it means she is getting ready for the big pushing she will need to push that baby out. Pooping clears the way for baby and it utilizes the same muscles that she needs to get the job done.

Put simply, there is no shame in the game when it comes to giving birth. Although, I will leave you with a little bit of hope and tell you that it is pretty natural for a woman's body to tell her she needs to "go" early on during her labor. Feel better?

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