Ask a pregnant woman what her biggest fears are heading into labor and you might be surprised how often you’ll hear the word “poop.” Many mamas-to-be dread the idea of having a bathroom disaster right there in front of their partner and a roomful of doctors and nurses. But when it comes to childbirth, poop certainly happens. If that sounds like your worst nightmare and you’re trying to figure out how not to poop on the table during birth, you might be able to reduce the odds.
Pooping during labor is incredibly common, according to HuffPost. The muscles you’re using to push your baby out are the same ones that you use when you're going to the bathroom, so it's only natural that accidents happen. But as mortifying as the idea sounds, pooping during labor isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Apparently, it lets your doctors and nurses know that you are in fact pushing efficiently and correctly, explains She Knows. In fact, the only time the possibility of pooping on the delivery table becomes a concern to them is if you’re so worried about what might happen that you’re holding yourself back from pushing, as noted by Parents. Labor takes all your energy, and you really don't want to be wasting any of it on trying to make sure you don't poop.
If you’re dead set on doing everything in your power to make sure you don’t poop, there are some tricks to try. Heather Lloyd, a doula and student midwife, tells Romper women have been trying to avoid pooping during labor forever — and thankfully, some of the methods have evolved. "Midwives used to use warm milk and water in a hose... before enemas were in a box at CVS," she says. You can request an enema before labor, according to Cafe Mom, or do it at home yourself if you think you can handle it. Cleaning out your bowels theoretically ensures there’s nothing left that could lead to an accident later.
You could also try a suppository for the same effect. According to Everyday Health, a suppository should help you have a bowel movement about an hour after you take it — but it's important to note, however, that their effects on pregnant women haven't been studied, so you might want to wait until you're at the hospital and talk about it with your doctor first.
If you’re not into either of those ideas (and who could really blame you), one extreme option that has been recommended is to try some castor oil to empty your bowels before birth, according to Belly Belly. But it's not without some pretty serious risks. It’s a pretty powerful laxative that could leave you with a bad case of diarrhea and stomach cramps— probably not what you want to be dealing with as you await the birth of your baby. Lloyd agrees that it's probably best left on the shelf. "Castor oil shouldn't be used like that. It can really tear up your bowels — not damage them, but just uncomfortable gas and cramping that can be confused for labor by new moms," she says.
If you do end up pooping, rest assured that it really and truly is nothing to feel embarrassed or freaked out about. It happens to tons of moms, whether they're willing to admit it or not. "Poop is poop," says Lloyd. "With all that's going on down there, poop isn't too much of a big deal." No one is going to run out of the room in horror or collapse in disgust. A nurse will simply clean up and get back to business — and you’ll probably be much too busy dealing with your contractions to care or even notice.
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