You probably already know that your placenta provides nutrients and oxygen for your unborn baby. If your baby is essentially being fed inside of the womb, it isn't too far-fetched to wonder, "does baby poop inside me?" The answer is yes. Babies do pass waste while in the womb, but it's probably not how you imagine.
Unborn babies begin passing urine at about 10 weeks of development, according to Begin Before Birth. Swallowing the amniotic fluid is what makes babies pee in the womb and exposes them to different tastes. Although it may sound unappetizing, urine is sterile, so your baby is not in any harm by drinking his own pee.
Because the placenta takes care of filtering most of what creates waste, and sends it back to Mom to dispose of, babies don't need to poop in the womb. Best Ever Baby explains, however, that babies swallow intestinal cells, mucus, bile and lanugo (a fine hair that covers the baby's body) while in the womb, and this will stay in the baby's lower intestine. This accumulation turns into meconium, a baby's first poop, which should pass within the first day or two after birth. Sticky and green, meconium is the one and only clean poop you will pass throughout your lifetime, according to Huffington Post.
But not all babies can wait to drop a deuce. If a baby is overdue or has experienced a stress before birth, he may pass his first poop prior to delivery. The University of California San Francisco reports that in 10 to 20 percent of deliveries, there is meconium in the amniotic fluid. Babies who have meconium stained amniotic fluid, or particles of meconium in their amniotic fluid, are at risk of breathing the meconium into the lungs and developing meconium aspiration syndrome.
U.S. National Library of Medicine defines meconium aspiration syndrome as breathing problems or respiratory distress that a newborn baby may have when there are no other causes, and the baby has passed stool into the amniotic fluid during labor or delivery. According to Kids Health From Nemours, the dangers of meconium aspiration syndrome include partially or completely blocked airways and chemical irritation to the baby's lung tissue. Surfactant, a natural substance that helps the lungs expand properly, can also be inactivated by meconium.
Additionally, Kids Health reports that although six to 25 percent of newborns have meconium stained amniotic fluid, only about 11 percent of them will be diagnosed with meconium aspiration syndrome. Most babies who have aspirated meconium improve within a few days or weeks and there is usually no permanent lung damage. However, Kids Health also suggests that these babies are at a higher risk for reactive airway disease which is an asthma-like narrowing of the airways that can cause wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.
So what can be done to keep a baby from pooping inside the womb?
Best Ever Baby suggests limiting outside influences and medical interventions that can cause a lack of oxygen to your unborn baby. These can include inducing labor, artificially rupturing of the membranes (when the doctor breaks your bag of waters), and clamping the cord before the cord has stopped pulsing. Additionally, you should keep mom's stress to a minimum because stressing Mom out can also stress out the baby. Your partner can help by limiting the number of people in the delivery room, asking to dim the lights, and playing soft music to help your relax.