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Secret Fears Around Birth - Will I Poo?


When I am teaching antenatal classes there are few things that are really common worries about birth, and often they are things that people don’t want to ask or even really think about. They might also be things that no one really tells you about or if they do it might not be all that helpful.

 

The likelihood of there being poo in your birth is definitely one of these! So let’s give it some thought  - if you can bear it!

 

Firstly it is common.

 

Your baby is squeezing down the birth canal, your body is doing an amazing job of stretching and adapting so baby can fit but that means everything that normally takes up space down there doesn’t have as much space as normal. It isn’t hard to realise that your baby is exiting very close to the anus (and this is actually a good thing for their microbiome) and in fact the easiest way to push is to push into your bottom. Well, that’s surely not going to help if you are worried about poo? Push into your bottom is clearly going to result in the unwanted?

 

Well, yes and no. Bowel movements and fetal ejection reflexes (i.e. birth) are both pretty similar body functions. They both work best when you are working with the muscles of your body. If the muscles of your bowels aren’t doing anything you are going to be sitting on the toilet for a long time, you need the combination of your body and your own effort to make it all work well. When it comes to birth your body is all focused on birthing this baby, not on the bowels. The muscles are working to allow baby to descend and be born.

 


But, the space is pretty restricted and as your baby squeezes their way down and out there is a good chance that anything taking up space in the rectum is going to get squeezed down and out too.

 

So yes there may well be poo but you might not be aware of it at all and it isn’t like you are physically opening your bowels and consciously doing a poo – a thought that often makes it seem a bit better. It’s a by-product, albeit not the nicest for you, but a great indicator to those around you that the baby will be here very soon.

 

Is there anything you can do to minimise your chances?

Well no, not really. The days of having an enema when you come into hospital to get it all flushed out are thankfully gone. It isn’t really a good idea to restrict your food and drink intake and how you push or what position you are in won’t make a difference. If you need to go earlier in your labour – go. If everything is out already, then all good.

 

Sometimes women have a bit of an upset stomach in labour, vomiting or diarrhoea, and although this might not be pleasant it is your body’s way of clearing out so no need to waste energy on digesting food and more space for baby to move.


And what if your fears and realised?

Well the midwives looking after you are pros at this situation. It won’t phase anyone and they are so discreet about it. There is no shouting and drawing attention to what is going on! They will quietly clear away and with all the sensations you have of contractions, baby head pressing down and the focus on pushing you won’t be particularly aware.

 

How about if you are planning a waterbirth? What happens then?

Your midwives are on it here as well. They have a handy sieve to scoop away anything that needs to be removed. Again with no fuss and total discretion. Of course it might all be a bit more noticeable in the pool or you might be in a position where you are unaware.


But my partner!

It isn’t usually top of list of things to share with your partner but if they are focusing on you and encouraging you with your pushing they might not see what’s going on either. Admittedly in the pool they may well but it’s still a really amazing part of the journey because you are doing it and your baby is almost here!

 

And what goes on in the birthing room can stay in the birthing room if you prefer it that way.

 

If you are looking for a no nonsense antenatal course where we don’t shy away from anything make sure you come and join The Antenatal Course, difficult questions and over-sharing always welcome!

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