New pregnancy and parenthood come with a lot of fears. Will I survive birth? Will I be a good parent? Will I ever sleep again? But one fear that isn’t talked about as much is the dreaded public defecation that can come during delivery. That sh*t (pun intended), is real. Yes, the fear is real, but what I want to talk about is the actual for real shitting part. That’s right, everybody poops. And when you have a baby coming out of you, sometimes the burger you ate the night before has to come out too. It’s science y’all.
I was inspired to write about code brown by a recent client. I went to her house for a prenatal visit where she had an affirmation flag from her mother’s blessing hanging on the mantle. That’s when I saw it. The most amazing birth affirmation I ever did see, “It’s ok to poop.” Heck yes! I was almost as excited about the poop affirmation as I was about the first time my kid decided to poop in the toilet instead of on the floor. Almost.
But seriously, pooping during childbirth is probably going to happen and that’s ok. There is only a small percentage of women that don’t poop during birth and if she’s telling you she didn’t, my guess is she simply didn’t know because guess what? The people helping you give birth are professionals. They aren’t going to announce to the room, “oh shit you just dropped a deuce!”. That’s not a thing that happens. No, your care team is a group of professionals that deal with bodily fluids and private parts on the daily. They expect poop, they aren’t grossed out by it, and they clean that sh*t up before you even know what happened.
In fact, pooping is exactly what they will tell you to do when it’s time to push, “push like you are having a bowel movement.” That’s’ because you are engaging the same muscles during pushing as you do during pooping. Thanks pelvic floor.
Poop and/or the feeling of having to poop is a good sign during labor and it lets everyone know that baby is low and you are pushing effectively. Most women will feel increased pressure in their perineum, rectum, and low back during the pushing stage cause duh, a baby is pushing on your poop shoot. Contractions literally become expulsive in pushing stage meaning their whole purpose is to move baby down and out. This means it’s super important to follow your body’s urges so your baby can be born. Withholding your strength for the fear of embarrassment could inadvertently prolong your labor and who the hell wants that?
That’s the thing about giving birth: you’re so busy, so distracted, so caught up, that even a paralyzing fear such as free sh*tting in front of a group of strangers takes a backseat to the task at hand. When it is time to push, the only thing you will likely have on your mind is meeting the tiny human you’ve been growing all these months. Poop is the last thing you need to worry about. At least until it comes time for your first postpartum dump. But that’s a whole different story lol!
Alexis Edwards, LCSW, Certified Doula
Alexis is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker & Certified BEST Doula in Austin, TX. She is a survivor of sexual assault and an advocate for healing through birth. She is mama to two red-haired babes and survives on all the sarcasm and caffeine as she raises them amidst the chaos. You can find her work in birth and mental health at Birth360. You can also find her ramblings about motherhood and social justice on her blog, Mrs. Mombie. That’s mom + zombie cause negative sleep y’all.