Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pooping while pushing out a baby.

I recently talked about this subject on my "home" pregnancy message board, but thought it was interesting enough to bring it to my blog too.

When I was pregnant with my first, pooping while pushing was an unknown to me. I never read that chapter in my "what to expect" book. My Lamaze teacher also didn't mention it. But apparently, it's a common thing to happen. My thoughts are - if it's so damned common, why the hell doesn't the new mom-to-be know about it? To be fair, I did know about unexpected diarrhea where the woman took Castor oil to get labor going, but I know the Castor oil simply aggravates your colon, which in turn, can start labor. So I know not to go that route. But I didn't know normal pooping was a part of this.

I first heard about it from a guy at work. There I was, approaching birth and it somehow is brought up during lunch. (yes, lunch.) He said he was surprised when his wife pooped while pushing out their first child. He went on to say it wasn't the fact she pooped and he saw it, as it was cleared away by the nurse really quickly and no one said anything about it, but this is what got me... He said, "I could not believe that smell came out of my wife. I'll never forget the stench."

Oh. My. God.

I'm sure this poor woman has no idea he is telling this story to his work buddies. Hell, I don't even know if she knows she pooped. But the possibility of my husband keeping it from me and telling his friends just completely and totally horrifies me. It bothered me so much that as I approach my due date, my meals become more of a liquid diet (think soup broth) in hopes I don't have to unload while pushing.

Thankfully, when labor was upon me with my first two babies, the labors were long and my system was working overtime, so I was able to accomplish everything I needed to, um, "remove" before it was time to push. And to tell you the truth, I have no idea if I did or not, but my husband knew of my fear, so if he did see something, his lips are sealed. So I'm just going to pretend I did not have this happen.

Well, in speaking about this to the random message board, I got a lot of responses.

~ "When it comes time, you won't care."
-- Um, yes I will. I have gone through this twice. And yes, the pain is real and you will do what you need to do. But while the nurse was holding my right leg and my husband was holding my left and counting to 10 with each contraction, I was chanting in my head "don't poop. don't poop. don't poop." So yeah, when the time comes, I ~do~ think of it. And honestly, if the deal was I had to take a 5 lb crap in the doctor's hand to get the baby out, I'd happily do it. I just don't want my husband involved. My husband is the one who has to keep everything he sees separate from my sexiness, so it's already a fine line he has to walk. I'd rather not add a big crap to it.

~ "Everyone does it."
-- No, everyone does not do it. In my 5 years of knowing about this issue, I've discussed it with a lot of women. Yes, some women do poop. But many don't. It is common, I understand that. And I know when it happens, it's taken care of without as much as a syllable uttered. But really, I'd rather it just not happen all together.

~ "A liquid diet will give you liquid poop!"
-- Again, no. I'm careful with what I eat and the past two times has saved my ass, literally. But no big bouts of diarrhea has happened. It's not like I'm going to eat big bowls of liquid chilies.

~ "You can always opt for an enema"
-- I actually don't know too much about this. I know it was once offered and some hospitals still offer it. I don't know if my hospital is one of them or not, but I've not needed it. I'll cross that bridge if and when it comes.

~ "That woman's husband was terrible. I know my husband wouldn't say that!"
-- All I can say is that guy's wife probably would say the exact same thing.

~ "Your husband won't care. We'd be able to laugh about it! Of course he knows that you poop, it's only human!"
-- Uh-huh. I understand he wouldn't stand and point and laugh at me. And I know he knows I poop. But I'm a private pooper, I don't talk about it and we don't joke about it. And really, pooping in the privacy of your bathroom and pooping spread eagle on a table while one of the most important things in your life is happening? Totally different. And I'd just rather pooping not be a part of birthing my child.

I'm really not a prude, I promise. I just don't want to take a shit in front of my husband moments before my child comes out of my vagina. Birth is traumatic enough for my husband to deal with. You know that "no sex for 6 weeks" rule the OB gives a new mom? I truly believe it's simply time for the father to get over the sight of seeing a baby come out of what has always been his favorite play toy.

Ah, the joys of childbirth. Or should I say, the joys of my totally irrational fears?


Jenera said...

I'm a private pooper too. My poor hubby isn't but only because when he's home the little man does not leave him alone at all. I don't bother him but Aidan sure does.

I don't know if I pooped during Aidan's delivery-I even asked the hubby because he was right there. He said that he thinks I might have but they had everything cleaned up so fast and was handing him the baby that he didn't even notice.

I can see why it would happen since it's all in that general area. I only had a brief thought of 'don't poop' but I only pushed a few times. I will say that one of my first thoughts was if I had or not, lol.

The biggest thing about pooping is afterwards I thought. I had a terrible time for the month or so where it was very hard.

Oh and if my hubby spread a story around such as that, I'd be pissed. And we are not to 'secretive' about such things, lol.

Nikki said...

I'm private about all such things as well. I even don't let him around when I'm doing something as simple as shaving my legs. Don't know why - I'd rather he not see those things.

I know I would be completely freaked out too - but my bigger and more immediate hurdle is to first get pregnant! :-)

Topcat said...


I just laughed so fucking hard at that post , that I WOKE THE BABY UP. Lucky he went straight back to sleep.

I was in labour seven years ago EXACTLY, with Tiger. He ended up an emergency c-section ..... but seven years ago, Nancy, I WAS spread-eagled on the table PUSHING OUT A SHIT IN FRONT OF MY HUSBAND. And my friend, and my mother.

Suddenly I could smell shit. Naively, I said to the midwife, "Oh, the baby must have done a poo." She told me that no, no ... the baby did NOT do a poo, it was me.

Mortification. I remember thinking, if I don't look at the people in the room, then they won't know I had just taken a crap in front of them.

They all knew, I have man bowels, remember.

Many, many months later, I said to Mr TC ... "So, did you know that I took a dump when I was in labour?"

"Yeah, it STUNK."

Niiii-iiiice. Fortunately, I have not much shame left. :)

Geohde said...


I've caught quote a lot of poop when delivering babies, to be honest I don't think the mothers actually noticed it,


jenn said...

I am an extremely private pooper. I can't even fart in front of him- have to run to the bathroom unless it's a total accident surprise... Pooping while giving birth is also one of my biggest fears. The hub also claims he wants to stay right up by my head the whole time & I am just fine with that!

Jen said...

Ok...with only being pregnant for a very short time I didn't really get to think about the whole pooping on the table thing. However, even before I got pregnant I heard stories, enough stories that pooping on the table was the 'thing' that I was scared of during labor...not having the baby come out of a very small place, but pooping in front of everybody. The thought alone is enough to scare the crap out of ya. (no pun intended!)

I liked when you talked about the liquid diet and how you wouldn't eat a bowl of liquid chilies. That cracked me the hell up...laughing out loud as I crawl back into bed!

heavenlytini said...

yeah i agree cant see myself pooping i would freak out n if it happens they better not tell me i'd rather not know and i def. rather my hubby NOT see it, i think im just gonna have him stand by my shoulders lol

MrsSpock said...

Being the nurse who wiped away the poop, I'd say most women did it, but also didn't know about it. I'd just cheerily say, "Let me get you some fresh pads to put under you, they're a bit wet..."

From our standpoint, we don't care. We wipe a lot of poop. After my c/s, I was so edematous that I couldn't reach past my navel. My nurse helped clean me up multiple times, and I was very grateful.

I do agree with you that a lot of people still care when they're pushing. I saw it all the time. Hence, the sneaky poop wiping.

MrsSpock said...

I should add, an enema is the last thing you want when you're in labor. Horrible cramps atop your contractions. And less control about when that poop comes out.

Seriously? - Erin said...

Ok so I laughed out loud at work. I have a HUGE fear of pooping on the table. I don't think DH would ever say anything about it but you are totally right. He has to see me as attractive and sexy again. Poop is not, I repeat not going to help the situation.

We aren't as private about poop, we do joke about it (I am a stinky vegetarian and all and we only have one bathroom). I still think it is totally awful. So just stick to soup? How far in advance of due date do I swtich?

At the vegan place (I wound up going for dinner since I took Riley to the dog park in the afternoon) I had the thanksgiving leftover special. It was so yummy.

Momma to 3 said...

I was so terrified by the thought that I might actually poop during labor! My first labor was very very hard and very very long and the nurses kept having me get up and go to the bathroom until they broke my water. I was so scared and in so much pain that I could not go. I pushed for over 4 hours without an epidural and I could feel everything. I was mid-push and the unthinkable happened......I pooped during delivery. My husband kept telling me that it was no big deal but it was to me! He thought it was more disgusting when I would pee while pushing, that is so not worse! He thinks it's just hilarious to tell people about the pee and I don't care as long as he doesn't mention the other situation! I had 2 other children and my labors with them were very short and I had epidurals with both of them. I don't know if that has anything to do with it but they both sort of "fell" out, I didn't really need to push at all so I didn't really have a chance to poo. How can giving birth be so great and so gross at the same time?

Artblog said...

In Europe or at least in England and France they don't let Pa see the bits baby shoots out from, the Pa is instructed to stay behind the bed, behind mom. Good rule, you should try it.

And as for pooping, I don't even know if I did or not, you're so busy you don't even notice! Have you forgotten already? :)

Lisa said...

I completely understand. It is not an irrational fear. I felt the same way.

I was lucky enough to be induced and had not eaten in 30 hours by the time the boys were born. Luckily, I had also taken care of business in the morning prior to being induced and was never offered food after that point. So, I pretty much knew that I should be in the clear.

However, it was on my mind during the big pushing. I think that is why it took a while longer for the boys to be born. I was so afraid of pooping that I did not push hard enough at first to really get them moving. Once I started to really pusha dn I knew nothing was coming out... then I gave it my all.

So, all this to say that you are not alone in having this fear. I am convinced that all first time moms who know about thsi have that fear. And those who left the comments on your board are all more than likely women who had it happen to them and those answers are their way of making themselves feel better and less embarrassed.

nancy said...

You docs and nurses - Good lord, now I'm freaked out even more. So most women don't even ~know~, eh? I know you quickly take care of the mess and it's not like you are going to say "you just shit!", but I didn't think it happened to ~most~ women. Ugh.

Well, I'm not going to push my husband into telling me. If I did and he's kept it a secret for so long, he can just take that one to the grave.

Oh god, I hope he doesn't tell his buddies if I did.

nancy said...

TopCat - yup, I knew you'd laugh at this one. Oh, and I think I'd get a laugh out of chicklet too, even though this is in her future, not past. :)


Anonymous said...

I LOVE THIS POST. It is hilarious.

I know I talk about pooping, but my husband tries to ignore the fact that girls go #2. I lived overseas in countries where you talked about what was coming out of you at the dinner table. Seriously, it was normal conversation. I don't think anything of it. Hubby, not so much.

But this whole poop while having a baby petrifies me. I might need to inquire about the liquid diet if that time ever comes. That hubby is MEAN to spread the story around. It's not funny. Really.

And I LOVE that you wrote the "real reason" for the 6 week sex ban. I can totally see that. I'm worried about hubby seeing any sort of speculum in there would scar him, let alone a baby coming out. Thanks for that.


Lori said...

Score another one for adoption.

Shinejil said...

Oh no, Nancy! Now I've got something else to worry about! :)

But seriously, I've never paid this issue any mind. I will plan accordingly now, should I ever get a chance to push.

Ali said...

Lauren's labor was about 16 hours long, so I was able to take care of things before pushing. But with Owen, from the time my contractions started to the time he was born was about 4 hours, many of that convincing the nurses I did NOT in fact need to walk the halls. So I know I did with him, Adam told me. He said the doctor just flicked it away, no big deal.

I think it is a big fear for everyone!

Sarah R said...

I am the same way, Nancy. Luckily, TMI (as if this thread doesn't already have a TMI disclaimer) but I had diarrhea when my contractions started at home. I wasn't hungry all day, and my labor was 27 hours there was nothing to poop out. Also, when I got sick (the epi caused my BP to drop to 88/30), I dry-heaved because all I had eaten during labor were ice chips.

My husband said he doesn't want to go with to the hospital this time, and that I should find someone else (like my mom). I'll just have to change his mind before August gets here! I think it was so long last time and he was bored. MEN!

nancy said...

As with Ali and Sarah (and a few more of you), my LONG labor was spent with me going to the bathroom as much as possible so there wasn't any of it in the "ready to go" place of my intestines. But with Allie, my labor was only 6 hours. And while I definitely rid myself of any necessary and ready waste during that time, if I did poop, I did it then.

nancy said...

OH - and let me reiterate... I'm totally cool with it happening and having the poor doctor and/or nurse deal with it. I'm not shy in the fact it happens, I just DO NOT WANT MY HUSBAND to see/smell it!

Ali said...

Oh, and I forgot to add that right before the push that delivered Lauren, I had just enough tine to tell the nurse that I was going to throw up, right before I did - all over my own hair. Niiiiice! I hadn't eaten in over 24 hours at that point, so it was pretty much all stomach bile. I'm sure that smelled lovely.

Anonymous said...

I've always said that unless you have an M.D or an R.N. behind your name you're not going anywhere near there during my delivery. So hopefully with that clause, I can avoid those issues. But do I WARN my husband that that is possible???

Lilith Silvermane said...

I must say... 6 kids, 5 vaginally.. I never pooped.. However I am REALLY careful what I eat those last few weeks. I am terrified of that!

I LOVe the line... "... baby coming out of their favorite plaything"

It is so totally true!

Meredith said...

I guess my husband is different than yours. He wasn't disgusted at all by child birth and didnt need much time to get over what he saw down there.

With my first I did poop (although I didnt know at the time). I asked him later and he said I did a little but the nurses cleaned it up so quick he wouldn't have known unless he was looking right at that moment. With number 2 I am pretty sure I did as well. My husband didn't see it, but I had a mirror (which is totally gross btw) and I think I saw it. We aren't all that private about that stuff tho. So its usually me that brings tells people I pooped (to my friends thinking of trying or who are pg and ask what do people not tell you)

Amanda said...

This is my a huge fear of mine (after m/c) and I appreciate your post. I too am a fellow private pooper.

Melody said...

This and tearing-- my two biggest childbirth fears. And I think pooping comes before tearing for me. I think I can get over doing it in front of the nurses but not in front of my ex and my best friend.

Anonymous said...

You are birthing your husband's CHILD! If he's any kind of man, he won't CARE if it happens, and he won't talk about it later with his friends. My thoughts on the birthing table were "please God give me a healthy baby"...there are so many more important things to stress about than something that is natural and out of your control. If hubby loves you, then who cares? Sorry if this offends you. Stacey

Liz said...

I am sitting at my desk, crying with laughter.

I never made it to the pushing, so this was not an issue for me, but it was a MASSIVE fear of mine during my entire pregnancy.

nancy said...

Stacey, Of course I care more about a healthy baby before pooping. I'm just trying to bring some humor into it. Try not to take things all so seriously. :)

Kirsten said...

Okay, I am an obsessive private pooper. I've been with my husband for 14 years and he has never seen, heard or smelled me poop. Yes, this is going a bit far but now it's just one of those things I'm going for a record with! So...that being said...I had heard several tales of women pooping on the table and was so incredibly freaked out about it, until I found out I'd be having a c-section (which I've heard it can still happen that way, too, with all the pushing around in there). Yet, I still had that concern in the back of my mind. The fact that it would have been the first time my husband would have been around me during that "moment" (and I damn sure didn't want that associated with the birth of our children) was enough to send me into labor.
I cannot believe that guy at your work actually came out and said it though!! I would like to think my husband would never bring it up but after a few years, he might think it's a safe subject and OOPS!!!
I'm not sure what I'd do to remedy the situation if I ever find myself pregnant again. I'd probably go with the enema so that then maybe all that would come out would be air, but, my husband has never heard me fart in 14 years, either...!!!!!!

Starr Morgan said...

This is what I am MOST terrified about with delivery! My husband and I are very private about those type of bodily functions, I would be mortified! He doesnt even fart in front of me, and even if one slips out he quietly gets some room spray and does not mention a thing. I can handle the pain of labor, but am terrified of pooping! Even if they discreetly wipe it away, I am afraid of the smell giving it away.

Denise said...

Although I've know that this was a real possibility for a long time, I'm wondering now if I need to warn my husband. I don't really think it would surprise him though. He is much better with the bodily fluids than I am. Plus, having lived with boys in college, I got over my poop shyness a long time ago. Man there were a lot of conversations about poop over those years!

Also, since we only had one bathroom in our last house, I can't imagine the smell would be anything new to him! Gross.

Amanda said...

I used to be a fairly private pooper, but since getting pregnant things have changed. I've had such "issues" with going that just about any time I do I'm so happy I announce it. The husband isn't too pleased about it (he goes into the other room to fart), but deals OK. I still wouldn't want to poop in front of him, though.

I decided a long time ago that I'd give myself an enema at home once labor started. Now, after reading the comment about it possibly still happening with a C-section, I think I'll stick to my plan.

The same friend that I had that suggested I start my labor by taking castor oil said it cleared her out and she didn't mess the table up at all. I told her that I'd rather risk pooping on the table then having diarrhea on the table. Ewe!

Elana Kahn said...

Totally not irrational. I don't wanna poop on the table either! I think I'll ask for an enema either way just so I don't have to think about it. :-)

Kelly said...

I totally thought of this while I was delivering Lily! I was induced (obviously)for 2 days so everything had come out already but STILL I thought about it. I totally could have pushed harder if I didn't know that was a possibility:/
I want to know more about the liquid/modified diet that you use closer to your due date!

I agree with you on the 6 weeks recovery time for the hubby more than the wife. Lance was pretty freaked out after watching me give birth to Lily although some of that was the horrible circumstance.

chicklet said...

I'm with you on the husband seeing it. While we are anything but prude, we don't go to the bathroom in front of each other - it's one of our rules re keeping SOME things sacred (or protecting each other at least from it). So pooping in front of him, gah!

Swinette said...

I was induced with my son, and I know I pooped a little bit. With my daughter, I went into labor on my own, the day before I had her. The morning of the day she wound up being born, I had the runs most of the morning, and couldn't eat. That was what really made me think I might actually be in labor LOL My husband & I are also private poopers, but I don't think it bothered him too much when I did it with child #1. Slightly OT, but my BIL & his ex-GF used to poop in front of each other. Yuck. I'm one who believes that *some* things are just meant to be private!

fuentes said...

I am so anti pooping while in delivering I don’t care how “normal” or “common” it is. I remember when I was young I worried about peeing while delivering and my mom told me that that just kind of shuts down (I realize she may be wrong) and that they give you an enema so you don’t poop.

My co-worker was pg 3 years ago and told me with her fist son they gave her an enema, with her second they didn’t and when she told them she had to go they told her “it’s ok, we’ll clean it up” and she was so NOT ok with it. With her third she requested an enema and her dr wrote the order for her. I am delivering at the same hospital and plan to do the same, but if my dr does not want to write the RX than I will give myself one before leaving for the hospital if my body doesn’t do the job on it’s own. My husband does not know the details of my pooping and I want to keep it that way.

I would also like to add that I had surgery 9 years ago and it doesn’t matter how much pain you are in or how high you are from drugs you care that people are handling your business, at least I do.

Sugar and Ice said...

Before I was married and definitely wasn't thinking of kids, I worked with a girl who was pregnant and obsessed with this topic. She was so scared of pooping during delivery; she probably mentioned it once a day. So, when the time came for her to give birth....she did poop...and someone did utter a syllable..a few of them actually. Her doctor actually said out loud "Well, you've got a little poop" Why would he say that?? You'd think after being an OB for long he'd know better.

Jen said...

I really hope I don't crap my pants. I think my hubby would get a big laugh out of it. And I wouldn't... Thanks for bringing this fear to the forefront of my mind!

JamieD said...

Not irrational AT ALL!!

JJ said...

I have ALWAYS been terrified by this possibility...Ive already prepared Mook its likely, so at least mentally we both know it could happen!

RebeccaR said...

I laughed out loud reading this! I was totally worried about pooping and I didn't even think about the stench! When I actually gave birth (to twins) there was so much amniotic fluid spurting everywhere and so many doctors watching the vagina show that I forgot about my pooping anxiety.