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Will I poo in labour?

Birthing your baby is meant to be one of the most empowering, magical and miraculous moments of your life. Pooing at the same time sounds pretty horrific right? Argh, not what you want your midwife/doctor/birth partner to see?

Well let me be honest here, it happens. Some people do poo when they are in labour.

It’s often something that clients say they are worried about, after all, this is something we do in private right, not something they would chose to share with a stranger (midwife/doctor) and their trusted partner - you can almost feel the worry and anxiety just thinking about it - kind of a feeling that makes you want to curl up in a ball and hide (not great for labour).

But, some honesty again… I’ve never had a client (or birth partner) say to me ‘oh my god, I/they pooped in labour and it was horrendous’. No, they say ‘my baby has arrived, they are beautiful, our birth was hard but amazing’ or something like that. In reality, it really doesn’t matter and often it goes un-noticed.

So, why might you poo in labour? And, how can you let go of the fear?

In the initial stages of labour, your body is working to shorten and open your cervix (effacement and dilation). Once this stage of active labour passes, you move through transition to the birthing stage of labour (pushing baby out).

During transition, this switch to the pushing stage, you get a shot of adrenaline, waking you up to the fact your baby is about to arrive. You might find you start to feel like you can’t birth baby anymore, you might also feel nauseous or hot and you might shout ‘I need a poo!’ and this is all good!

Surely not? Yes, if you feel the urge to poo this is a great sign that baby is very nearly here. This sensation is in fact the pressure of the baby pressing against the rectum. It’s at this moment you need to try to do the opposite of what you might want to do. Holding it in, clenching your bum and getting tense in this moment is not what you need to get baby out. Instead, breathe – when you feel that sensation, breathe and let go. Take a breath in and breathe, sigh, shout that breath out. Try to think about sending that outward breath down and release and relax your pelvic floor – opening your mouth can help you do this.

If you do poo in this moment, remember, this is a physiological process that is completely normal and natural. It’s not likely to be a huge poo as your body will send you to the bathroom many times ahead of or in the very early stages of labour to create optimal space for baby to be born. And, midwives are used to this, they have a sieve (if you’re in the birth pool) for this very reason and will discreetly remove it. Get your birth partner to read this article and then they’ll know it’s all normal too – but honestly, they and you will not care at all at this point – meeting your baby will far outweigh a tiny turd.

Want to know more about the nuts and bolts of labour? Join one of my hypnobirthing classes for realistic, factual and modern antenatal support.

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