We all poop. So why is pooping during delivery a horrifying concept?
For me, the idea of pooping on a table was the single scariest thing about delivering a baby. Not the fact that I had to push out a giant baby through an unreasonably small hole, but the fact that I’d poop in front of everybody.
With my first delivery, I still to this day don’t know if I pooped, and I don’t want to even know.
But with this baby, I definitely know. I had a HUGE POOP — and I’ll tell you how I know in a second, but you’ll have to wait a little bit longer for that story.
Now, I’m telling this story, not because I want to intentionally gross people out or share super “fun” details about my bowel movements, but because it’s SO normal and people don’t talk about it.
Labor and delivery nurses report that it’s incredibly common, and that they have to be tight lipped about it because it can actually slow down a delivering mother from pushing because she’s embarrassed. Which seems ridiculous to me in hindsight because you’re sprawled out, literally pouring out all of your bodily fluids but poop is the thing that slows you down.
A labor and delivery nurse told me, “It’s definitely very common. We get asked a lot by laboring moms what happens if poop comes out. To them it extremely embarrassing and they often become discouraged to continue pushing when that time comes. But we always reiterate that poop actually means they are pushing in the right direction and making progress. The nurses are usually pretty tight lipped about it and clean up quickly before the women realize.”
And I wish I’d known this and it had been reinforced to me before I did what I did delivering my second child — because now I have the most ridiculous poop story that could have been easily avoided.
Okay, so let me get started…
I’ll start by saying the last three days before I delivered, I didn’t poop. I tried, but I couldn’t.
I tried everything to poop because I knew I’d be delivering soon (was induced), and wanted to avoid my biggest fear at all costs — pooping on the table while delivering. I sat in the bathroom for hours, ate all the “poop inducing foods,” and tried to just will it out…but nothing. I blame it on the fear of delivery and the stress of a high-risk pregnancy, but damn, my body wanted nothing to do with it.
So fast-forward to being induced. I opted for the magical epidural that makes birth actually blissful, minus the being trapped in a bed.
Now, you don’t totally get all the details about the epidural sometimes because people tell you about the fact that you can’t get up to pee, but they don’t tell you about the fact that you can’t get up to poop.
So after 10 hours of “contractions” (and I use quotes because I had the epidural so I couldn’t feel them), I started to feel “pressure down there.” I had asked the nurses earlier how I’d know it was time to push if I couldn’t feel anything, and they just said, “You’d have pressure down there like a bowling ball.”
So every 30 seconds to a minute, I’d get pressure “down there,” but felt something else…PANIC!
My worst fear was coming true, but it was oh so much worse than I thought. I was pooping on the table before even starting to push. I was literally alone (with my husband), in the room and I was pooping with every contraction. Those three freaking poop-free days were coming back to haunt me and I was about to experience my worst fear.
So I should say, I’m not sure why I thought what I was about to do was a good idea, but here’s my rational:
1. I was stupider than usual because I was exhausted and having a baby.
2. I didn’t want anybody to know because I was embarrassed and this was literally my worst fear coming true.
3. Nobody told me pooping before delivery on the table, while you’re totally aware of everything that’s going on was even a possibility.
4. It was shift change for the nurses, so I didn’t want to end the nurse’s shift by literally wiping my ass. She was an amazing nurse and didn’t want her night to end on a shitty note. (See what I did there?) I also didn’t want my first introduction to the new nurse to be wiping my ass. I kept thinking, “Hi, nice to meet you, please wipe my ass.”
In hindsight, this is all ridiculous, but I was genuinely so embarrassed and scared that I did the most ridiculous thing at the time — I enlisted the help of my husband.
My husband and I originally decided, “What happens in the delivery room, stays in the delivery room.” But this is too funny and ridiculous not to tell, plus, I think it’ll actually help people.
So, I shipped my husband to the en suite bathroom to grab some toilet paper as I prepared to basically catch my poop as each contraction uncontrollably rocketed it out, then passed it to my husband to run into the toilet like we were bailing out a ship from water.
Really, picture the most bonkers scene: a super pregnant woman trapped on a delivery table, her husband catching poo and running it to the bathroom before the next contraction hit. It was like the labor/poop beep test.
To say it brought our marriage to another level is an understatement because until that moment, I’d never even pooped in the same room as him.
Now at this point I’m feeling a combination of pride and horror for dealing with it myself, almost done with this ridiculous mission I’d put us both on — until BOTH the nurses walked in mid-poop beep test…we both froze, my husband with poop in hand, and just stared at them in horror.
“Is everything okay?” the nurse asked apprehensively, instantly knowing something was wrong.
We literally got caught smuggling poop into the toilet mid-transfer. So, I caved and explained the whole situation to my old nurse and the new nurse, deeply ashamed and embarrassed of what I’d done until she replied with a simple, “Why didn’t you just call us? This is great news, it means it’s time to push.”
And sure enough, the baby’s head was right there and I had my son about 15 minutes later.
So instead of doing the poop beep test in secret with your husband, just know that poop is normal, and shit happens.