3 Things To Understand About Bowel Movements During Childbirth

If you are near your due date, you may be nervous about some of the aspects of giving birth. Many women are nervous about the idea of having a bowel movement while giving birth. Bowel movements happen for several reasons during active labor. The baby is pushing on your rectum, which will squeeze out any feces in your rectum. Additionally, your hormone levels may be peaking, which can cause defecation. While this is a normal, natural occurrence, there are a few things that may make you feel better about defecating during labor. 

Many Women Defecate During Active Labor 

If you have a bowel movement during active labor, you are not alone. Although official statistics are not available, many women defecate while they are in active labor. In fact, some women defecate and are unaware of it, since their medical team is trained to deal with defecation quickly and professionally. If you have a birth partner who will be with you while you are giving birth, then you may want to make sure that they are prepared for the various physical aspects of labor, including possible defecation. 

You May Ask for an Enema Before Active Labor 

It is no longer common practice in the United States to give a laboring woman an enema before she reaches active labor. Enemas may not always prevent defecation and are considered unnecessary. However, if it makes you feel more comfortable, most nursing staff will give you an enema if you request one. Additionally, if you plan to be induced, you can ask for an oral enema, which consists of 1-2 doses of pills that you take the night before you will be induced. This way, you can have a full bowel movement in the privacy of your home before you go to the hospital. 

Health Professionals Will Deal With Your Defecation In a Respectful Way 

Your obstetrician and the nursing staff at your hospital have likely witnessed several women defecate while in labor. When this happens, the nursing staff quickly and efficiently swipes the feces away and cleans the area. If you have an epidural or if you are near the final stages of birth, you will likely not even realize that you have defecated. 

The best thing you can do regarding bowel movements during labor is to relax and realize that it may happen, and that it is not an embarrassing issue. If you are concerned, talk to an obstetrician like Tod Stillson MD about how they handle defecation during labor.