A Gentle Journey

What if I poo in labour?

You’ve heard about this. You’ve heard people say you can poo in labour.

How. Utterly. Mortifying. Well, let me be up front with you. It’s true. Some people do poo when they are in labour.
Let me be even more up front with you. I did. In the pool.
Before I’d had my first baby, I was dreading that it might happen. I’d heard the rumours too. I really worried what the midwives would think of me, what my husband would think of me! He’d never look me in the eye again!
Well, funnily enough, 5 and a half years later, the incident of the poo has NEVER come up in conversation. Not because we’re too embarrassed to talk about it. But because it didn’t matter. To anyone. Not even me.
Your midwives have seen it all before, and they know that it’s physiologically normal as your baby takes up space and moves downwards past your bowels. Some of the muscles you use as you give birth are the same as those used when you poo.

Here’s a little tip.

Assume it might happen. Even expect it will happen. Remember that no midwife will care. Your husband will be seeing his wife bring his child into the world! He won’t care either.

As you move from active labour into the birthing stage (this bridge from one to the other is known as transition), you may experience hot flushes, nausea and the feeling that you “can’t do this” (your final adrenaline surges cause this). Trust me…you CAN do this!

It’s also very common at this point to utter the words “I need a poo”.

You may or may not need a poo, but the pressure of the baby pressing against the wall of your bowel gives you that instinctive sensation of needing to go. You have spent your life responding to that sensation with clenching, tensing, and holding it in until you can leave the room. NOT very helpful when you have a baby to birth! So, this is the only time I will ever urge you to go AGAINST your instinct. Don’t clench, don’t tighten, don’t tense. Clenching and resisting will go against what your body needs to do. When you feel that downward pressure and a sensation like you need a poo, say to yourself “my baby is coming!” and let your body go. 

Relax. Release. Open up. Go with it. Let your body take over.

Breathe in deeply. Sigh that breath out. Imagine you’re sending that breath of energy down your throat, past your baby and out of your vagina. Release.

A Gentle Journey hypnobirthing lancashire

And if a bit of poo comes out. Well, that might just be rather fabulous for the baby you are giving birth to! Really! Let me explain…

Your baby has been in a near sterile environment. It has no ecosystem of good bacteria yet, what we call the microbiome. Your baby’s microbiome needs seeding with bacteria from you. The first seeding happens when the amniotic sac breaks and he/she moves down your vagina, getting coated in all your secretions. Those vaginal secretions get in baby’s mouth and nose, along with all that wonderful bacteria.

Next, the baby’s head emerges. In very close contact with your anus, where there will be faecal matter present. Yuck, poor baby!? Nope, another perfect opportunity for baby to receive it’s Mother’s good bacteria to feed that growing microbiome. The microbiome continues to be fed by skin to skin contact, nuzzles and kisses.

A Gentle Journey Birth Doula Lancashire

So, do you want to poo in labour? Maybe not. But feeling like you want to means baby is close, and a little bit of poo makes a very big difference to your baby!

In birth you are beautiful, powerful and awesome. No little number 2 can change that.
ps: now you know why rental birth pools often come with a sieve 😉


If you want to prepare for your birth with a course that leaves no stone unturned, taking you from “no way, really?” to “hell yes bring it on!”…get in touch to find out more about how I can support you.

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