Yes, You’ll Probably Poop During Labor

And other fun things that happen around birth

Written by: Janel Duffy
Posted: April 10, 2024
If you’re nearing the end of your pregnancy and spending time Googling whether or not you’ll poop during labor, it’s probably best to accept that there’s a good possibility that you will. 
And, pooping isn’t the only thing that people don’t talk about that much during pregnancy, birth and those few days postpartum.


As a 2-time mom, I’m here to share the nitty gritty. Because you deserve to know.


Pooping During Labor


I remember being a teenager and learning that my mom pooped during labor with a couple of my siblings. As a 14 year old hearing that story, I could not have imagined anything more humiliating than to poop in front of my partner and a bunch of medical personnel.
Little did I know how intense the pressure gets during birth and that when your body is asking you to push, you have no real way of deciphering whether you’re pushing a baby or a poop. And while your baby’s head is moving its way through the birth canal, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to simultaneously squeeze your backside to prevent a little poo from slipping out.
I also had no idea how much I would not actually care about pooping in front of my midwives and my husband. And I’ve asked him about it and he said he doesn’t really remember the pooping anyway.
Pooping during labor is totally normal, and your birth team will not bat an eye if you do. This goes for labor in a hospital bed, at home on the couch or in a birth tub. Your midwife or OB will swiftly and discretely clean up… and usually they’re so good that you might not even know that you did poop. 


Delivering The Placenta


I’m not sure what I expected to happen to my placenta when I was done giving birth to my baby. I don’t remember doing any research about it or asking any questions about it during my pregnancy. Honestly, I probably just assumed that it just kind of slipped out, like a tampon or something. I did not know that delivering the placenta was going to be a whole process, that for me– took a few tries and a couple special tinctures. 
After your baby arrives and everything is stable, your body starts contracting again (way less intensely) in order to get the placenta out. Your provider will have to tug gently at the umbilical cord, which feels really weird. They might have to press on or massage your belly to help the process along. You’re encouraged to push to help move the placenta out. The pushing, pressing, tugging and all of the action that happens after laboring and birthing a baby feels a little insulting, but it’s usually fairly quick and painless. 
Delivering the placenta is not as hard as delivering a baby because, obviously, there are way less bones in a placenta (there are zero bones). It feels weird, it sounds weird but it’s not too bad in the grand scheme of birth.
I did not do anything with my placenta after delivering it, I looked at it because I was curious, then said a silent “thank you” and let my midwives deal with it. Some folks like to create placenta art, ingest it, encapsulate it, or bury it in a sort of ceremonial practice. If you’re interested in doing something with your placenta other than saying goodbye to it, check our registry guide for someone who specializes in working with placentas.


The First Post-Birth Bathroom Trip


After giving birth, delivering the placenta and meeting your new baby, you’re going to eventually have to get up and go to the bathroom. And you’re not alone if you feel nervous about it, I know I was. After laboring, pushing and giving birth, doing anything else with the bottom half of your body might feel incredibly daunting. For some, that bathroom trip doesn’t feel any different, but for many it can be uncomfortable and even a little painful. 
With my first baby, I had a bit of tearing and needed some stitches, so my midwives suggested that every time I used the bathroom, I used a peri bottle to spray water onto my vulva while I went to the bathroom. This way the pee would be diluted and not really irritate the stitches. This is the peri bottle I loved– and I suggest using warm water because it just feels better.
The first poop after birth can be a scary one too. Depending on how your labor was, and whether or not you had any IV’s or pain management drugs, your first bowel movement might be a little hard to pass. Some OB’s recommend a stool softener, and you’ll definitely want to try and stay as hydrated as you can to make passing your first poop after birth feel a little less shocking. 
If going to the bathroom for the first time after you give birth is causing you anxiety or worry– talk with your midwife or OB– they can give you helpful suggestions, as well as offer you support when the time comes.


What worked for me

The pooping, the placenta delivering, and the first bathroom trip were all made a little more manageable with the help of my doula. I’m not joking when I tell you that my doula held my hand more than once while I pooped during labor (and she also knew the transitional moment when my urge to poop was actually me getting ready to push). My doula held my hand when my midwives pressed on my belly to help deliver the placenta. She applied counter-pressure on my forehead when I needed to get stitches (don’t ask me why that worked but it did). And she also stood in the doorway of the bathroom cheering me on when I was nervous to go after giving birth. If you haven't booked your doula yet, head to our registry guide and find a doula to put onto your registry.


You don’t have to wonder about this weird stuff by yourself


If you don’t have a sister or girlfriend who has been through birth and can tell you honestly about what goes on, these are great topics to chat about with your doula. Your doula will help you normalize all of it so you can head into birth focused on giving birth to your baby, instead of worrying about poop and placentas.


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Category: Stories & Advice For Parents , Getting Ready For Your Baby
Tags: birth , birth support , ready for birth , hospital birth , water birth


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