Pooping in Public and Other Birth Fears

Oh yes- I'm going there!

So- every time I start a class, the first day we talk about some of our biggest fears about birth.  Almost always somebody says that they have heard that women poop during the birth (pushing phase) and they don't want to do that.

Well, who would want to poop in public?  Especially in front of your lover, your doctor, a nurse, and who knows who else?  This seems to be a legitimate concern.  I have even had people say they were glad their doctor ordered an enema(!) because then they did not have to worry about it!!!  We are all potty trained by this point and we know that our feces is considered pretty raunchy- so how do we deal with this basic and reasonable birth fear?

What Are You Really Afraid Of?

I had a woman tell me before the birth of her first child that she wanted the epidural because she didn't want to "lose it" in front of all those people.  She was not talking about pooping - she was talking about screaming, crying and basically falling apart during the birth.

Maybe she pictured a peaceful controlled setting with flowers and soft music.  Birth can have all these things, but it is not a spa day.  You will literally be opening up your most private area for the world to see.  It can be peaceful, but it will also be deeply intense and sacred. 

Personally- I think that when women express fear of having a BM during the birth, they are actually talking about being afraid that they will LOSE CONTROL during the birth.  We wouldn't want that now would we?  Losing control of our bowel function is a very obvious example (not to mention demeaning) of losing control of ourselves.

Let It Go!

We hear a lot of talk relating to natural childbirth about being in control.  Many women choose a home birth or a natural birth because they want to be in control of the situation.  This makes sense in many ways and it is a good reason to be an active participant and make educated birth choices.  It is also imperative though, that we learn to lose control in order to have a good birth.

I believe a woman who never lets go will have a longer birth.  She can control her own cervix and not let it open.  She can do this with her own anxiety and fear and desire to control the situation.

When we talk about transition labor being hard we are talking about a time when you lose control over your body.  You open up so fast that it is overwhelming and you give up your control of the situation.  This is kind of scary but it is a necessary part of birth.


It is imperative that you birth in a safe place with- oh yes- people you can poop in front of.  So, when you are out there choosing your care provider and your birth place, don't forget to ask yourself, "Could I poop in front of this person?  Would they still love me after?"

Birth is an amazing moment where we give our bodies over for the life of another.  Choose to do it in a place you feel safe and loved and supported.  And yes- it is still empowering even if you poop.


Haha! Thanks for addressing this issue, Sarah! Before the birth of my first, I remember being rather concerned about this... I mean, it's the stuff of those horrible naked-in-front-of-the-entire-school nightmares we all have, right? I'm happy to report, though, that while I did have a bowel movement while pushing with both my labors, it was such a minor issue to everyone involved that it lost it's 'power' over me.

I remember apologizing profusely after the BM in the first labor. The nurse in the hospital said, essentially, "Don't worry about it, darlin'... it happens all the time." It was just a non-issue, which in turn made it a non-issue for me when it occurred again during my second labor. Maybe we just need to give all expectant mothers a copy of "Everybody Poops"! = ) Seriously, though... if only first-time moms had any idea how much their lives will be ruled by bowel movements from here on out!
Mama Birth said…
I think it is something you only worry about with the first- yes it will happen- and nobody will care! You are so polite! Apologizing! I apologized after my second for freaking out!
You are right! We should just think of it as prep for the next 3 years of their lives!
Becci said…
I wasn't too worried about pooping. I knew it might happen, but hoped it wouldn't. In labor, I wasn't thinking about it at all. Well, I did poop. I didn't know about it (a big deal wasn't made about retrieving it from the pool), but was told about it later. I'm pretty germaphobic and this tarnished my birth, a little. When I heard, I felt like I'd given birth to my baby in the toilet. I worried about E. Coli and all that. So...I realize this also must happen in other water births than ours and I was just wondering: is there any explanation about why that's not dangerous to a baby's health?