Will I poo when I give birth? is a question that worries a lot of women. And possibly their men folk, although men tend to be lot more relaxed about poo than us!
The short answer is no, not necessarily. Often in early labour you have a bit of a dodgy tummy and any poo is kindly cleared out by your body. Especially with first babies, when labour is often longer.
As the baby comes around the curve of the birth canal then pressure is caused to the rectum. If there is a little bit of poo there it will be pushed out. And you get an uncontrollable urge to bear down. If you are with a woman in labour you will hear the noise she is making change to a more ‘pushy’ sound.
In fact if there is any poo there it is best got rid of! Years ago women were routinely given enemas to clear their bowels and we thankfully no longer do that. If women are very constipated then it can hold the baby back. Seriously! I have looked after women when the labour was taking a long time, they were constipated, had a poo, suddenly more space for baby and the baby was born shortly after. Brilliant.
Sometimes people attempt to get labour going by stimulating the bowel by having a spicy curry or taking castor oil. I wouldn’t recommend the castor oil route.
Talking about poo from a midwives perspective we are very discreet. If there is some poo during the birth then we will cover it and deal with it ASAP with minimal fuss. If you are in a birthing pool then we have a sieve that we use!
And we honestly don’t mind at all. Everybody poos it is perfectly natural. As a matter of fact; midwives get excited if we see poo!- it means that the baby is coming!
The feeling of the baby’s head coming down often feels that you need a poo/ are pooing and most times you really aren’t; it is just the baby’s head pushing down. It can feel like the baby is coming out of your bottom. It is helpful to know that this a completely normal sensation and a really positive sign in late labour. We would encourage you to just follow the lead of your body. It knows what to do.
Many women feel more comfortable sitting on a toilet and pushing/ bearing down in the second stage for this very reason. It is a trick we often use to encourage the baby to descend. Lots and lots of babies (my own son included!) are born on or near a toilet. Us midwives are very skilled at ensuring that the baby doesn’t fall down the loo!
If you are in labour and start feeling like you need to poo then please don’t worry. In fact it’s fantastic – your baby should be born really soon. Trust your body.
This post originally appeared on my blog The Vintage Midwife