Contrary to what the Kardashians may have you believe, pregnancy can be far from glamorous, and the idea of labor can be terrifying. Just the thought of pushing a baby out of your body can cause anxiety, but after hearing stories of women pooping during labor, you may be even more nervous. If you want to avoid your labor story from getting awkward, you may want to know how to prevent yourself from pooping during labor. But really, there's only one key thing to know: you need to have zero poop in your system during labor.
In an interview with Romper, Dr. Kathryn Wright, an OB-GYN with Facey Medical Group, says that if there is poop in your rectum during labor, you can’t really prevent it from coming out. No matter what you do, it’s going to come out when you push. “You can’t push a baby out and contract your external anal sphincter at the same time,” explains Wright. “It’s physically impossible.”
While it may be easier said than done, there are a few things you can do to ensure you have regular bowel movements. Eating lots of fiber-rich foods, like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, explained Baby Prepping, can lower your risk of constipation and help you clean out your bowels regularly. This will help prevent any backup that may sneak up on you during labor. But unless you’ve cleaned out your bowels before going into labor, you might be out of luck.
In fact, Wright says that nurses are able to tell how well you are pushing, or if you are pushing correctly, when they see that your anal sphincter is open. Not only that, she says that if there is stool in your rectum, your baby’s head will squeeze it out like squeezing toothpaste out of the tube. She adds, again, that the only real way to prevent pooping during labor is to not have poop there to begin with.
“Lots of fluids and eating light during labor can sometimes help,” suggests Wright, “but that’s like dieting the day before running a marathon.” The only other option she says, is to get an enema during labor, which used to be a common practice 40 years ago. However, adds Wright, that probably isn’t going to be too much fun, especially while you are in labor.
While pregnancy is said to be the most significant, meaningful time of your life, the fact is that it can also be the messiest. Your body goes through the ringer — you gain weight, your skin can change, and your hormones can cause all kinds of chaos. It’s just part of the deal. And while the fruits of labor are priceless, the prep and pain are something all women have to face. To top it off, as if going through labor isn’t overwhelming enough, you end up worrying about things like pooping as well.
Understandably, you’re probably concerned about pooping during labor because it can seem embarrassing with all the doctors and nurses around you, but it might be even weirder to have your partner witness the whole thing. As far as doctors and nurses are concerned, Wright advises there is nothing to worry about. “The nurses and doctors are used to it, and quite frankly, don’t care,” she says. And when it comes to your partner, the fact that you are giving birth to their beautiful child is a priceless reward, and it will trump any poop they might see.
The best thing to remember is that whatever happens in the delivery room, stays in the delivery room. And you should never feel embarrassed about the natural things your body is doing. After all, your amazing body is able to create life and give birth. So what harm can a little poop do?
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