Pooping During Labor: The Glamorous Truth About Giving Birth

Get the inside scoop on poop—and other bodily fluids—during labor.

woman in labor in the hospital
Photo: Shutterstock

Peeing and pooping and other messy bodily functions happen during labor. And it's the stuff people really want to know but feel way too "refined" to ask.

For some women who feel the urge to poop throughout their labor, they likely have occiput posterior (OP) presentation going on. Say what? That means the back of the baby's head was is pressing on your butt while her face is looking up at your bladder bladder. The optimal position to push out a baby is with the back of the head up towards the bladder and the face looking down at the rectum. It's just a better fit than the other way around.

Lots and lots of labors start in this OP, "sunny side up" position and through the course of labor, baby rotates into the easier, occiput anterior (OA) position. Not all do, though, and it can make for long labor with lots of back pain and more pushing than if baby was coming out OA.

If you feel like you need to poop and your contractions aren't back-to-back and extremely painful—you probably just need to poop. Poop happens in labor in tandem with all those contractions as a natural way to clean house in preparation for baby. Poop happens while pushing the baby out too and there's nothing you can do about it. Poop just happens.

If you're at the hospital, in labor and feel a need to poop that you haven't felt previously—tell your nurse. She'll probably check your cervix before letting you up to the bathroom just to prevent you from delivering your baby in the toilet (Yes, that happens occasionally but rarely. Baby doesn't drown and everyone's OK. We just prefer a bit more finesse and control than a toilet-birth allows).

If you're not fully dilated or extremely close to it—go ahead and poop. You'll feel better and that gentle kind of pushing might even help you dilate more. You don't want to bear down with the full force you'll need for getting that baby out. If you're pushing that hard with no actual poop coming out—it's probably baby pressure not poop pressure.

RELATED: Stages of Labor: What to Expect When You Give Birth

You may pee a lot, too, especially if you get an IV at the hospital. Whenever a patient gets an epidural, we preload with at least a liter of IV fluid. Most patients get more than that. What goes in; must come out.

And there's also your water. Most women think that once the water's broken—that's it—it all comes out at once. Nope, it comes out continuously throughout labor. Gross, right? It's all part of the glamour of motherhood.

Once that baby arrives you'll be wearing all kinds of body fluids (and solids) without even wincing. Milk on your t-shirt, baby pee in your lap, spit up on your shoulder—whatever. It's all in a day's work.

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