Pooping During Childbirth: We're Dropping Truth Bombs About Why You Shouldn't Worry
Hi! I’m Mariah! Co-Owner of The Omaha Baby Nest. I’m a Birth, Postpartum + Infant Care Doula, and Certified Lactation Counselor. As a mom of newly-turned 2 and 4-year olds, AND a Doula, getting pooped on is part of my life.
It happens. Haven’t you read Everybody Poops? So why are we so afraid of it. Perhaps it‘s because growing up we‘ve heard boys say, “girls don’t poop” so we believe that we can’t admit that we do? Maybe it’s because pooping is such a private event. And quite possibly, it’s because poop is plain gross. It is! But, that doesn’t mean we should fear it. Because poop is also healthy! Pooping during labor (or the urge to) is even BETTER! So...if you are pregnant and worried about whether or not this may happen during delivery, here are some things you should know!
Blame Your Hormones
It’s true! You have a scapegoat. During pregnancy, your body produces record amounts of a hormone called progesterone. Progesterone is known as the “pregnancy hormone.” The “pro-gestation” hormone.
Progesterone is great! It’s responsible for so many things but plays a large role in calming down smooth muscles in your body, but more specifically- your uterus. Progesterone keeps your uterus nice and chill to help prevent preterm labor until your levels decrease towards the end of your pregnancy. This is also thought to be a cause for Braxton Hicks contractions.
As your progesterone decreases, your once slowed-down bowel function should start returning to normal. Your smooth muscles can begin their normal contracting again (both your uterus and your digestive system). Combine that with oxytocin during labor, and you have the perfect poop-cocktail of hormones.
Your Baby's Head is Fighting For Space
Now, I don't have to tell you how internally- cramped things seem to get if you've ever been pregnant in the third trimester before. Feet in the ribs. Lightning crotch. Elbows and knees seen from the outside. Your baby's dorm room is getting smaller by the day!
During labor, your baby's head should ideally be getting lower and lower as your cervix opens and dilates, and your uterus produces consistently-strong contractions. The lower your baby's head gets, it passes along your bowel with the potential for causing bowel- like pressure sensations. Many laboring women will have bowel movements multiple times throughout the labor stages. In fact, loose stool can sometimes be one of the very first signs of labor.
The bowel- like pressure sensation feels the same as the urge to push your baby lower. It can be hard to decipher the two. In most cases, feeling like you have to poop is a SUPER EXCITING THING! That either means your hormones are working well and you do in fact end up pooping, or it is possible that your baby's head is low enough (and you're fully dilated) and you may begin pushing soon.
What many people don't realize is the same muscles you use to poop, are the same ones you'd use to push effectively. In fact, you don't push with your vaginal muscles. Your pelvic floor is very complex, and it can be much easier to push when you simply think, "push like I'm pooping."
So naturally, it's quite possible you may end up pushing both your baby, and a little bit of poop out. But don't worry! That brings me to my next point. Mum's the word...
Your Nurses Won't Say a Word
If I'm being honest, there's a good chance you won't have any idea that you're pooping. Between the pressure sensation of your baby's head and your nurse's speedy hands, you'll have no clue! I've seen nurses be some of the fastest poop-ninjas in the world. While you're pushing, if your nurses or provider see any come out, they will likely use a warm washcloth to wipe it away (while also using the warmth of the towel as some therapeutic counterpressure if you consent).
POOPING IS A SIGN THAT YOU'RE PUSHING EFFECTIVELY!
Keep in mind, your care providers are in the business of looking at butts and vaginas all day long. You will not be the only patient that poops, and you will most definitely not be the last! No one will be offended, shocked, or make any sort of facial expressions at you that suggest they are grossed-out. You will most likely just see the excitement on everyone's faces that your baby's head is in plain sight, and about to make their grand entrance!
Remember, pooping means your mind and body are working together to push your baby lower so you can FINALLY MEET THEM!
So if a little poop (and the fear of it) is the only thing getting in your way (and your head) during that moment, just remember to push it real good, and get on with meeting your baby!
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