Am I going to poop while I’m pushing?

This is the million-dollar question. The idea of having a bowel movement in front of a room full of strangers is probably not your favorite. In fact, it might make you feel embarrassed, awkward, or downright anxious. We want to help you feel better about this! Here are the most commonly asked questions about poop during labour.

Why do people poop while pushing?

When you’re pushing a baby out, you’re using all of the same muscles that you use to have a bowel movement. In fact, one of the telltale signs that you’re ready to push is when you say, “I have to go to the bathroom!”. In addition, your baby’s head takes up so much space in your pelvis, that it forces anything ahead of it (like poop) out of the way. Think of it like a tube of toothpaste!

Can I prevent pooping while pushing?

Sorry, but probably not. If your body cleared everything out during early labour (a very normal part of this phase of labour), you may be able to avoid it. This is partially why enemas used to be a routine part of hospital admission (don’t worry, they’re not anymore!). If you’re trying to prevent pooping, you’ll probably also prevent your baby moving through your pelvis. If you’re pushing effectively, you probably won’t be able to control whether or not it happens.

Is the whole room going to know?

No! Many people think “pooping during pushing” means having an entire bowel movement. It doesn’t! If you DO poop, it will most likely be just a small amount. Your doctor or midwife, and your nurses, are very skilled at discreetly cleaning up without a word. Chances are, you, your partner, and anyone else who isn’t at the “business end” of things won’t even know it happened (and it’s okay to ask to not be told!).

Overall, pooping during pushing is a very good sign that your baby is about to arrive and that you’re using the right muscles to move them out. Fear of pooping can actually slow down this stage of labour! Talk to your doula and your care team about how you can let go of this fear to have a better pushing experience. In just a few weeks of parenting, you’ll probably be so used to talking about poop that you’ll wonder why you ever cared in the first place!