“Will I do a poo?”. This has to be one of the most common questions I get asked as a Midwife. It is also one of the most common concerns for first-time expecting Mumma’s. Which I totally get, and is why I am here to help you understand and overcome this fear.
First things first. The answer? Yes, it’s quite likely that you will.
I’m sorry to be the bearer of news you really didn’t want to here… I totally get that the thought of doing a number 2 in front of people may make you feel a little embarrassed. Ever since you were a child, you’ve been taught to poo behind a closed door. Of course, you don’t want to do it in a room with people you don’t know and your partner. It goes completely against the grain of your natural instinct for privacy!
But, I really want to express that it is completely normal and actually even expected. Your health providers in the delivery room is totally ready for it – because it happens all the time!
So why would I do a poo during labour?
There are many factors that can cause you to do a poo during labour. The main three factors include; hormones, your baby’s position and pushing.
You can expect loose bowel movements and diarrhea as early signs of labour. This is due to the release of hormones such as prostaglandins. (Oh don’t we love these not-so-great symptoms caused by pregnancy hormones… Not!). These hormones help to loosen your cervix, uterus and rectum in preparation for labour.
During labour, your baby can put pressure on the colon and sacral nerve. This causes the sensation of needing to poo. This often occurs when bub is very low in the pelvis.
However, if your baby is in the occipital posterior position (when their back of their head is pushing against your back) or breech position (when they are bottom or feet first), you may feel this sensation earlier on in labour.
Let’s be real. It makes complete sense that when you are pushing your baby out, your may push a bit of poop out too. This is because you are engaging the same muscles when pushing, as you would when doing a poo.
Now that I’ve told you this, please don’t resist pushing properly during birth. Birthing your baby is going to feel like you need to do a giant poo. You need to push to get them out. I know you may be worried, but I’m here to help you overcome this fear… we’ll get into that soon.
Can prevent doing a poo during labour?
In short, I’m going to say no, there isn’t anything you can really do to prevent it.
Don’t listen to the past:
If you speak to your grandmother or maybe even your Mum, they may tell you that they had an enema to prevent the ‘indignity’ of doing a poo. However, plenty of things about childbirth have changed over time (for the better), so please don’t listen to this advice.
In the past, it was believed that using enemas to clear the bowels before labour would help to reduce infection and create more room for baby, reducing tearing.
Research no longer accepts the routine use of enemas before labour, and it is no longer widely accepted. Studies found that enema usage in labour had no medical benefits. In fact, it is now suggested that enemas have disadvantages such as increased discomfort and pain for the birthing Mumma.
I know it may be tempting. But take it from me, your online midwife, just don’t.
There are some articles out there that are going to give you the worst advice. I just came across one that said in big, bold writing “Do not eat in labour”. The issue with this? Labour is hard work, it’s exhausting. Would you run a marathon without fuelling your body with the energy it needs? No! I encourage all my Birth Beat Mummas to pack snacks, such as muesli bars in their birth bag.
We should not be teaching expecting Mummas that preventing doing a poo in labour is somehow more important than giving the body what it needs.
What happens if I do a poo in labour?
As I mentioned before, your birth team, such as a Midwife will be prepared and ready. To us, it is honestly no biggie. We’re here to help you and support you while you birth your baby. So, while you’re focusing on doing just that, we quickly clean it up for you.
But will I know I have done it?
Maybe. Some women will feel it and other’s won’t. You may be so concentrated on the intense feelings of delivering your baby that you won’t even notice! Midwives are very discreet and are so used to taking care of it efficiently and with a minimum of fuss.
How to overcome the fear of doing a poo during labour?
If you understand that it can and likely will happen, you’ll be less likely to resist that urge when it comes. After all, this is the exciting stage when you will finally get to meet your gorgeous bubba!
Over 80% of women will do a poo in labour. It’s super common and no one is thinking “wow can you believe she just did a poo?”. In fact, no one is thinking anything of it at all because it’s so normal. It happens all the time, and it’s expected to happen.
It’s something you are going to have to accept, and push past.
My biggest tip:
Like all things pregnancy, birth and babies – get educated! Understanding the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of things makes a huge difference. In our Ultimate Online Birth Course, I explain everything you need to know and prepare you for it all!
Prepare your partner:
I also make sure that your partner or support person know what to expect from the whole process. If you go into labour with your partner/ support person already expecting that you are going to poo with a full understanding of why, you are going to feel a lot more comfortable and less embarrassed about it happening!
A tip for Dad’s and partners – don’t point it out if your partner has done a poo! Just keep it to yourself and be supportive. You don’t need to make her even more self-conscious about it if it happens.