Wondering if you’ll poop during labour? We’ve got the intel

Zofishan Umair
Zofishan Umair
Zofishan is a journalist, humour columnist, and a mum who has survived nappy explosions mid-air. She has over a decade of experience writing for print and online publications and is currently working on her first book.
Created on Oct 30, 2023 · 5 mins read

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What is it with poop and babies? I don’t remember ever discussing poop, bowel movements, or even the consistency of said poop with friends or strangers all through my teens and even through college. Sure, we went around saying ‘crap” all the time when we screwed up a project or accidentally spilled our drinks, but it was never really about the ‘semi-solid remains” our bodies expelled.

But then I got pregnant. And poop began to get its spotlight! It wasn’t just a simple swear word anymore, now it was something you discussed with your gynecologist because constipation is an actual pregnancy issue thanks to an enlarging uterus.

And, after weeks of Googling laxatives and home remedies, I was happy to put it all behind me. Of course, I knew when the baby would come, I’d be all about discussing poop colours and consistencies with strangers in mum groups.

Some days, it would be all that my husband and I would talk about. But, as I came closer to the delivery date, I was told that “Some women actually poop during labour. And that is okay.” That’s when shit really hit the fan!

Is it normal to try to poop while in labour?

As it turns out, yes, it is. Just when you thought things couldn’t get any more embarrassing, you end up taking a dump on the delivery table. Of course, you’ll be able to laugh about this cringeworthy moment a decade later. But if it’s any consolation, know this: the nurses and doctors have seen worse.

Much worse. So, what really happens?

Well, think of it as a rhythmic dance between labour and bowel movements, where nature’s call intertwines with the miracle of childbirth! It’s like a symphony of contractions and the urge to “poo-ush.” As your body gears up for the grand performance, the intricate muscles involved in pushing your baby out sometimes also send a message to your bowels, saying, “Hey, we’re getting ready too!”

You could think of it as a crude joke, but laugh and just let it slide. You might worry about the embarrassment and looks that may arise from this situation, but most healthcare teams are prepared for this! And they’ve seen more poop than a gaggle of geese on a walk.

With the utmost professionalism, kindness, and a “stool” of respect for your privacy, they’ll ensure your comfort while guiding you through the process. Rest assured, it’s normal to feel the urge to poop during labour.

This is because the muscles involved in pushing during childbirth are closely connected to the muscles used for bowel movements. As a result, when your body indicates that it’s time to deliver your baby into the world, your bowels may receive confusing messages

What happens if you have diarrhoea during labour?

Okay, so then things did decide to go from bad to worse.

Again, it is okay! While diarrhoea during labour may feel like an unwelcome visitor, those men and women in the labour room have seen it all—yes, even diarrhea—and they are ready to handle these “plot twists” gracefully and professionally.

On a more serious note, it’s important to highlight that it’s not uncommon for the hormonal changes and contractions of labour to stimulate your digestive system. If you find yourself experiencing diarrhoea during labour, let your healthcare providers know of your situation so your “business” can be managed as respectfully and privately as possible.

Your doctor will guide you on how to stay hydrated and will let your healthcare provider know what’s happening. They will even ensure that you receive the necessary support and are comfortable throughout the process.

Remember, labour is full of surprises; this is just one of the many remarkable tales you’ll have to share later. (Or not.)

Do you empty your bowels before labour?

“To poo or not to poo?” That is the question, and a good one, to be fair. The thought of emptying your bowels before labour may seem embarrassing or daunting, but it’s actually quite common and sometimes even encouraged.

First off, it makes more space in your pelvic area, helping the baby go more easily down the birth canal. Consider it clearing the way for a smooth and effective delivery.

Secondly, having a full gut during labour might cause undue stress and discomfort. You may have less abdominal discomfort and pressure during contractions if you empty your bowels, allowing you to concentrate more on delivering your baby into the world.

How exposed are you during labour?

Another fair question! I mean, your doctor has seen you down there multiple times, but those sessions have been short and quick. But what about labour? The thought of being exposed during labour is a source of concern for many new mums.

To be honest, it is natural to feel vulnerable during such an intimate and transformative experience. This is why, throughout the labour process, the doctors and nurses will try to maintain your privacy and dignity.

They will take deliberate steps to ensure you feel comfortable and covered. Even the labour and delivery rooms are designed to provide a private and safe space for you, with closed doors and curtains or screens available to create partitions and shield you from unnecessary exposure.

When it comes to clothing options, you will typically be provided with a hospital gown or other comfortable garments specifically designed for labour. These garments allow easy access to monitor and assist you effectively while offering coverage and maintaining your privacy.

However, it’s important to remember that your comfort and preferences matter.

If you have specific concerns or modesty preferences, don’t hesitate to discuss them with your healthcare team beforehand. They will try to accommodate your needs and ensure you feel supported.

At the end of the day, the goal is to help you deliver your wonderful child safely, and whatever your body decides to do during labour, know that your healthcare staff has seen it all before. So go with the flow, and if needed, let nature take its course.

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