You might be surprised that this is not a blog on the post-natal side of the business! Despite poo being accountable for about 80% of the conversation in our baby massage classes and the obsession us new Mums develop, oh yes, we are fully invested in poo; colour, frequency, smell, texture, size, food particles... you may read this in total disbelief but I promise Mums-to-be, this too will be you. We love a bit of poo talk. But no, this one is all about birth. (And poo!)
In contrast, my antenatal Mums are a little less enthusiastic about the poo talk. Without fail on every course one brave soul will meekly say.. sorry to go there but.. is it true.. I mean.. what if.. I heard you can.. you know.. poo during labour. Cue audible gasps of horror, nervous laughter, wide eyes and gaping mouths.
Yep, sometimes in birth, shit happens.
Let me start by assuring you that your Midwife or Doctor literally won't care, it will be whisked away discreetly in seconds and chances are you won't even know it happened. In all likelihood even if you are aware, you won't care much either as you will be far too focussed on bringing a human being in to the world to worry about what else comes to greet you.
So why does it happen?
When your baby moves into your vagina (the birth canal) the pressure from its descending head pushes on the colon and the rectum. As you breathe your baby down and out, this pressure intensifies, and to put it simply, if there is any poo hanging around in there, it gets pushed out. Your care providers will see your poo, or expression of needing one, as a positive sign that your baby is very close! Always look for the positives...
The muscles used when having a poo are the same ones engaged in the second stage of labour which is why a lot of women report if feels like they need a poo or are having a poo. In fact, we recommend practising our down breathing techniques on the toilet in the last few weeks of pregnancy to really get a good idea of how this breath can be effective.
So let's take a look:
This picture gives us a great on visual on how much pressure will be on the colon and rectum (in red) as the baby descends further in to the birth canal. It's easy to see how anything in the colon may get taken along for the journey. Many women may also find an instinctive need to go and empty their bowels as their labour progresses in to active labour. This was certainly the case for me, having gone to the toilet and emptied my bowels, I returned to my birth chair with a completely new focus, I changed position, I stopped talking, I truly focussed. It was another sign that things were moving forward.
There was obviously something left behind as at some point in my relaxation I could hear distant discussions in the birth pool about finding the sieve - a requirement on every good home birth equipment list. I had previously bought a cheapy 80p sieve from a chain store, but my husband could only find my beloved baking sieve on the kitchen side, left over from the cake I had baked for my midwives in early labour, and we all had a good joke about not baking any cakes for a while. I couldn't have cared less about the little bit of poo. I did care about the sieve!
Oh and don't worry Baby Massage Mummies, you can still enjoy my cakes, I promise it was replaced!
In conclusion - you might poo in birth. You might not! It's natural, it's common and it's absolutely OK. If you're not a fan of sharing this gift with your partner, firstly, they shouldn't care either and secondly midwives are experts at dealing with it quickly and discreetly.
How many times have I said poo? It's like having a newborn again!