Delivery means it's your BIRTH-day! How exciting that you get to meet your little one for the first time, but as a first time mom I understand how scary it might feel. Most pregnant women have lots of questions regarding what is delivery like, is it painful, what essential oils are good in the delivery room and the one I get most often "pooping while giving birth" fact or fiction?
Curious to hear more about pooping while giving birth? Listen to the full Pregnancy Pukeology Podcast Episode 34 Do You Poop While Giving Birth. This pregnancy podcast covers your chances that you'll actually poop on the table by telling you how many women poop while giving birth. Basically pooping while giving birth statistics, why does poop happen when your delivering, if epidurals increase the chances of pooping, and whether or not the myth about giving birth in a toilet is true.
Will I Poop During Delivery?
Pooping during labor remains a consistent thing despite there being a unique and magical birth story from every laboring woman. However, pregnancy poop may sound grossly embarrassing to a new mom, but it is absolutely normal to poop yourself while pushing during vaginal delivery. You will experience much pressure and feel like letting everything inside your abdomen out of your bottom area.
The birthing stool isn’t all bad. In fact, your doctor will ask you to “push like you’re pooping.” Pregnancy poop is actually a reassuring sign that you are pushing and your baby is descending well.
Pooping While Giving Birth
Anatomically, your pelvis has limited space and can only hold a few contents. When you push, the baby’s head compresses the content of the pelvis especially the sigmoid colon (the last curve of your large intestine) pushing out the stool and sometimes urine.
Why does Pregnancy Poop Happen?
Valsalva (diaphragm), abdominal muscles, and intercostal muscles are the muscles you use during labor to push. You also use exactly the same muscle to poop. So you are likely to pass birth stool if you are pushing correctly. A valsalva maneuver is when you grunt and push. Some turn flush in the face, also called red face. This activates your vagal response. Think of it like a reflex. When your doctor checks your reflex by tapping your knee and your foot kicks up, it is the bodies protective mechanism.
This vagal response to pushing will cause your heart rate to drop (bradycardia), tears to drip out of your eyes, pee, poop, nausea, and vomiting. Eighty percent of women get sick during labor and delivery, but you don't have to. To avoid these natural nausea and vomiting receptors, try peppermint essential oil infused pressure technology wristbands called NoMo Nausea. Don't be surprised if you see NoMo Nausea Med Plus used in labor and delivery rooms across 12 countries of the world specifically made in the U.S.A, but don't rely that the birthing center near me has it, instead put it on your BuyBuy Baby registry or buy it here and don't be that girl to poop and puke on yourself.
Another reason why you are likely to poop during labor is prostaglandins. These are naturally occurring body hormones that play a role in normal bowel function and initiation of labor. The same hormones are used to induce labor.
Do Epidurals Increase My Chance of Pooping?
No! An epidural is a procedure performed by a licensed member of the anesthesia care team: Anesthesiologist, Nurse Anesthetist, or Anesthesiologist Assistant. The epidural space can be found outside of the dural sac which contains the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that bathes the brain and spinal cord. After inserting a needle in between your spinal processes, this space can be found by a professional with a loss of resistance in their technique. Local anesthetic, which nubs pain receptors, and sometimes pain medication can be given in small amounts in the epidural space to give pain relief. A catheter, or a small fishing line looking device, is tapped to your back so more medicine can be given whenever needed. The goal is to block pain receptors so when your pushing out a watermelon in a hole that is normally the size of a lime it doesn't hurt, but pain and muscle receptors are close to each other. That is why numbness and weakness of the muscles can be felt. It is important to note that pressure and touch receptors are not blocked so most women with an epidural say they feel a lot of pressure or if they say "I have to poop" it means the baby is coming down the canal. If given an epidural, you will not feel the urge to empty your bowels. An epidural makes you more relaxed and stool may come out effortlessly. Remember, the stool will still come out either way as the baby comes out through the birth opening.
Fear of Pooping (Phobia of Poop): Do I need to Worry about Pregnancy Poop?
Not really. Most women do poop during labor and you are no different. It is a normal thing to poop once or more especially before your baby crown. The good news is that all labor room professionals are used to seeing women poop while in labor. You will not be humiliated as someone will be ready to clean it up with a clean towel or some gauze as soon as possible.
If you feel afraid of passing birth stool, your are likely to labor over an hour longer than those who don’t, according to a 2012 Norwegian study published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology. Another 2013 study published in The Journal of Perinatal Education found out that fear of birth is associated with anxiety, longer labors, a higher likelihood of having epidural anesthesia, and requests for elective and emergency cesarean surgeries.
But do you really need to be afraid of pooping during labor? Not even your partner, friends or relative should make you worry. They are usually so busy filming the crowning of the babies head or seeing the baby to really even care about your poop. Most don't even realize it. Healthcare professionals like OBGYN, midwives, and doulas are really good about hiding your pregnancy poop. Have you ever wondered why there are so many puppy looking pads under neath your rear end? It's so they can wipe and tuck your poop before anyone else notices, and to absorb some of the blood making clean up easier. The baby delivery doctor wear disposable glasses to make sure you don't shart (shit + fart) in their face.
How to Avoid Pooping during Labor?
It is difficult to prevent pooping while giving birth but here are a few tips to try to get it all out before you arrive at the hospital.
1. You can empty your bowel before labor. This needs to be done with caution and if possible inform your doctor before visiting the bathroom if you are already in labor and delivery. Cases where women have given birth in bathrooms thinking to be a bowel movement, have been reported.
2. Get all the poop out before you get an epidural. Remember you will not be allowed to get up, move around, or use the bathroom once you have an epidural in place, so try to eat natural laxative foods to get everything out the night before. Technically you are suppose to be NPO (nothing by mouth) prior to having a scheduled vaginal or c-section delivery and most are scheduled starting at 7am so plan to have a big dinner and nothing else. I personally ate at a Japanese steakhouse with lots of white yummy yummy sauce. Extra calories for pushing the next day, but there is nothing that cleans me out better than eating at those establishments.
3. Enema. Although not advisable and no-longer a standard practice, your doctor may give you a pre-labor enema to clear the way.