Q. Do I have to have an enema before delivery or is that optional?
A. Enemas are no longer routinely given to birthing mothers. Practitioners once adopted this practice to empty a woman's bowels before her baby made his way through the birth canal, believing that with less crowding, the baby would emerge more easily and into a more sterile environment. Mothers didn't protest because everyone is embarrassed by the possibility of having a bowel movement as well as a baby in the delivery room. But since most labors are hailed by loose bowel movements before contractions even get going, you don't have much waste stored up anyway. There's very little evidence that giving you an enema will make birth any easier or cleaner.
Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.
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