Monday, November 7, 2011


That's right, you read the title right. Let's talk about poop for a few minutes. Did you know that you might poop when you push your baby out? Most people never think about this, and others are completely obsessed with the possibility of this happening. I've even had one of my couples have a c-section over this topic. She made it to a 7, everything was going great, and she opted for a c-section. She just could never let go of the fear.

Approximately 30% of women poop when they push their baby out. There is a trend I'm starting to see pop up of offering/pushing enemas to women when they are in labor. I got an email from a friend this week and here is a portion of it: "They gave her an enema before starting pitocin because the doctor didn't want to be pooped on. Yes, he personally told the mom this."  Gotta love the OB that does things for his comfort and not the mom's. 

At any rate, the body, typically at the beginning of labor, will naturally get rid of waste.  She'll usually have loose bowels, sometimes even diarrhea.  She should eat and drink throughout her labor though, which means more waste.  And that's ok!  So, along with all the questions I've given you over the years to ask your care provider, here's another one:

"How do you feel about poop?"

If you are super concerned with pooping when you are pushing your baby out, do the enema.  If it makes you feel more confident, by all means.  Know that I am not advocating the enema whatsoever!  In fact, I'd really just like to see women comfortable with their bodies and not afraid to eat and possibly poop in labor.  But, like all interventions, I believe there is a time and place. 

Let's go back to the mom who just can't let it go, no matter how much her husband and care provider tells her it's ok, it's normal.  They don't care if she poops.  There are some other issues associated with this fear.  At the top of this list is sexual abuse.  Pooping during pushing is not about vanity.  I strongly suggest counseling in this situation.  To most, this topic is funny and only slightly embarrassing.  To others, it's completely paralyzing.  

Last I read, approximately 1 in 4 women have been sexually abused or molested.  Poop has the potential to be a big issue for many women -- even one million per year -- about to give birth.  I can't help but wonder about the women who elect to have a c-section and never experience any labor.  It's a question that simply cannot be asked, and yet, I can't help but wonder.  Is sexual abuse a part of their history?  Labor and birth is an extremely vulnerable time in a woman's life.  She is exposed in every way possible.  It's a lot for a woman who has not been abused or molested to come to grips with.  But for a woman who has endured abuse or molestation, vaginal birth  may be much too overwhelming.  

If you have seen Orgasmic Birth, they address sexual abuse and birth in a very tender story.  The woman is terrified to surrender to the power of her birth.  When she does, she comes out stronger on the other side.  If you have not seen the movie, check it out.  It's about much more than just "orgasmic" birth!

What started out as a funny post, took a very serious turn.  You know me, I can't end like this.  So, in class, the mamas planning a water birth always want to know about pooping in the water.  (My water birth is the only birth I didn't poop!)  I tell them that if they are really worried about it, if the dad will just throw a bunch of tootsie rolls in the water at the time of birth, she'll never know if she pooped or not.  (I've never had anyone actually do it, but it would be a very funny trick to play on a midwife.)


Coupon Newbie said...

I was severely constipated with my 1st pregnancy. The worst part of pooping on the birthing table? Every single time, I had to lift up my hips so a new set of chucks could be put down. Not so easy with an epidural.

Janie said...

I just did not want my husband to handle it so its a big reason why I'll never UC, my husband scooping poop out of the water with a fishnet - worth every penny of $3700 to the midwife for that to NOT be his job. but having said that I've had five babies and never once pooped (even though it most certainly feels like I am and just like everyone says during pushing I don't care if I am or not)

~Aimee~ said...

I was worried about pooping during labor. So far I only did it while pushing out my son (my second baby). I was in the tub and the midwife just scooped it out. I don't know how much I did because my eyes were closed. But touching on the other side of the subject, I know a woman who was sexually abused as a child. In all three of her labors, she would labor fine but get to a point where she needed an epidural. Within 30 minutes of getting the epidural, she delivered her baby vaginally. When talking about it with her, she commented that she probably needed the epidural in order to relax and allow the birth to happen. Without that intervention, she likely would have labored and suffered much longer, unsure if she could have achieved a vaginal birth without the help. In hearing about that, I realized that epidurals aren't just for physical relief, but they can provide mental and emotional relief and help the body finish it's work.

Sara Shay said...

I've had 2 natural births (pooped with both of them) and EVERY birth I have attended as a doula the mama's have done it too. And yes, it smells really odd. But I am sorry, I'll take pooping - A TOTALLY NORMAL NATURAL THING, there is a head coming out it has to make room! - over an enema or getting sliced open and having to heal with taking care of a new blessing.
I just think it is the lesser of 2 evils. After all you are already as exposed as you've ever been and its not like you are the only one who does it.

AmberLou said...

At my last birth, my midwives and birthing crew (some girlfriends) and I made poop jokes all night, and I ended up not pooping in the water. Total let down!

Diana J. said...

Great article - thanks! This is something that has happened both times to me, and it does bother me a lot, much as I know it shouldn't. :) Here is an article you might like:

Samantha said...

Haha, everyone poops. It's ok to admit it! I poop, you poop, we all poop! Having a baby is a joyous thing, and a little poop is not going to stand between me and an amazing birth experience. I pooped with my first child, although, I had to ask my husband because I didn't know if I really had. He confirmed, and was totally NOT grossed out. I didn't with my second child. I think a lot of people are concerned with having a birth that looks like how it does on TV or in the movies. A beautiful, dewey woman going all natural and pushing her lovely, clean, healthy little baby out into the world. Even if it's a defunct delivery and everything goes wrong, the woman NEVER poops on the table, so we just don't think it's right. TV-world is SO not real. A strong woman will poop on the table, laugh it off and be totally ok with it. After all, everyone poops.

Sara said...

I actually was a little worried about this, but as you mention, I had loose stools throughout the first half of my 5 hour labor, and never did eat, so it turns out that I never did poop! I was a bit happy to hear my friend/doula say that, because I would just feel weird about my husband seeing that. I don't really care about anyone else...just him.

I kind of hope the same thing happens this time..

Ginger said...

My baby is currently breech (36 wks today) and more than the embarrassment of poop, I'm struggling with the real possibility that I may have to give birth in what I deem the most embarrassing birth position - all fours.
Oh my!