Pooping during labour makes it to most mamas' top ten things they're afraid of during labour - and with good reason. Not only are we at our most vulnerable, we have to shit ourselves in the presence of complete strangers as well?
Most women will experience bowel movements during labour; this may occur more than once when mama is pushing or when baby's head is crowning. Some mamas do a number 2 just before going into labour (caused by the release of the hormone, protoglandin) which may then mean that there is less to excrete during labour.
Thing is, if you look at it anatomically, it kind of all makes sense why pooping is almost inevitable during labour. The same muscles used to push baby out are used to move our bowels through the rectum. Also, as baby's head gets lower, this pressure on the rectum causes bowel movement. So as she moves her way out, baby is going to kind of squeeze that poop out of you.
Picture credit: www.lamaze.org
I can soooo hear it now: so, Jamie, now that you've told us that pooping is sort of unavoidable during labour, are we supposed to feel better about ourselves?
I know this can be a tough one to get through. Being an individual who has often been concerned about how others see me more than half my life, trust me when I say I know how you're feeling reading this (I share more about my personal experience with poop and labour at the end of this post). However, I'm a firm believer of the human race and species being highly adaptable and all we need to do is change the narrative.
First off, feeling like you're about to poop or pooping during labour means you're definitely using the right muscles to bear down and push baby out. Technique is everything and mama's strength and energy needs to be used efficiently, especially since birthing has been likened to running a marathon.
Second, no one in the delivery suite is keeping count of who or how many mamas have pooped during labour. There is not going to be a poop emoji next to your name on a wall in the hospital for you to bear witness to the next time you deliver nor are there national records hidden in a safe somewhere. I promise you that. Your medical team is there to help you through this, poop and all. For them, it's all in a day's work.
Third, and most importantly, physiologically, your body is doing what it's meant to do. In opening up and in its release, your baby is making her way to you mama. Pooping is natural and the moving of your bowels will create a less 'bumpy' ride for your little one on her way out. Love your body for the miracle and wonder in which it has been created. We were built and made with the ability to birth.
I'd like to also add that some amount of research says that:
"When women have a bowel movement during labor, it may also expose babies to healthy bacteria that they are missing in their bellies at the time of birth, which may help them to be healthier. "
Source: www.mother.ly, "Real talk: pooping during childbirth is completely normal"
There are also a couple of things that have helped some mamas not poop so much during labour:
- Eating a balanced diet rich in fibre enabled them to move their bowels regularly
- When choosing to eat and drink during labour, they snacked instead of eating full meals. Further, they deliberately chose snacks which would agree with their digestive system and those which were more energy-giving like oatmeal and fruit bars.
I'd like to end with this little personal sharing of mine: