What if I POOP & Other Childbirth Fears!!
Let's get to it and talk about the "things" that may happen in childbirth that scare us the most.
As a doula and childbirth educator for the last 9 years, I have a pretty good idea about the main Fears in childbirth. Here we go:
What if I poop!!
The unwelcome visitor right?
Now if this isn't a fear of yours, I know that this thought is lurking in the back of your mind. For most of the people I work with this is one of the first questions asked about childbirth.
What if I poop?
What if people see it?
What if my spouse sees it?
What happens with it?!!!!
So, first and foremost, bodily fluids (and solids) are part of childbirth. There are many things we release in labor; tears, sweat, our voice, emotions, mucus, amniotic fluid, blood, vomit, pee, and (YES sometimes) poop. Childbirth is a full bodied experience and that comes with A LOT of releasing!! When we walk into this space we need to surrender and understand that when we push our babies out whatever is in front of that baby's head will also come out! Usually that means that your large intestine will empty AND (guess what!!) that is an indication that you are actually pushing correctly.
To put it plainly, when you release your baby from your body you need to relax all your pelvic floor muscles (and there are many of them)! Meaning, you can't release your baby if you are squeezing your butt cheeks tight or trying to control your sphincter. If you are squeezing your butt cheeks, effectively you are working against releasing your baby and you are actually holding them in!! This can make labor longer and harder.
So, yes, you may poop in childbirth! AND, childbirth is NOT the time to be self-conscious or inhibited. Childbirth IS the time to become uninhibited!! It is the time to allow and see your body in all its messy glory!!
The good thing is if you do poop an amazing nurse or medical assistant will be right there to whisk it away!! No one will even be the wiser (hopefully!). You will also be so focused on the task at hand that you will not even realize it has happened (and hopefully no one in the room will announce it!!). In addition, soon you will be snuggling your slippery, warm newborn and such an event will be a distant memory!
What if I TEAR?!!
Most all birthing people are nervous about this as it is concerning. Our vaginal region is very sensitive and serves multiple functions daily from elimination to pleasure. It is quite normal to be concerned about tearing.
To start, we need to recognize that our vaginal tissue is very different from the majority of skin on our entire body. this means that our vaginal tissue is different from our arm skin, or leg skin, etc. Vaginal tissue is more flexible and "gives" more. It is made to expand and contract. It is important to recognize this distinction so that we can comprehend that difference between say our arm getting cut and a vaginal tear from childbirth.
As your baby leaves your body there will be trauma to the local area; swelling, bruising, stretching, abrasions, and possibly tearing of tissue. It can be very common for people to have a superficial tear or a small tear that needs several stitches. While we want to think we can control this through exercises, positions, etc.; for the most part tearing is out of our control. If baby is coming down a little sideways or has a hand up against their head, or we push for a prolonged amount of time, the risk of tearing goes up. I never want a birthing person to blame themselves here. Vaginal tearing is part of childbirth.
The good news is that regardless if you are on an epidural or not there is something called pressure aesthetics. Pressure aesthetics is the same concept as when you cut your finger. As it starts to bleed and throb you would usually squeeze your finger applying pressure to the cut. This actually cuts off circulation and helps stop the bleeding in addition to stopping the painful throbbing. Your baby will also apply pressure aesthetics to your pelvic floor region as they get closer and closer to existing. Your baby will get lower and lower in your body and stretch this area to the point of cutting off circulation temporarily. So ... if you do tear you will actually not even feel it!! Aren't our bodies brilliant!!
I also want to add that if you are following proper self-care after delivery ensure adequate rest and cleaning, this area will heal fast. Everyday you should feel better and better.
If you are interested in preparing and adding flexibility to this area before giving birth see a Pelvic Floor Therapist. I highly recommend Pelvic Sanity in Orange County, Ca. You can also try sitting in a low squat several times throughout the day to stretch and encourage this skin to expand.
What if I vomit?
Childbirth is a messy place. It is not for the fate of heart! Again, there are many different bodily fluids (and solids as noted above) that may come out of us when we release our baby. AND, for the very special, childbirth also comes with vomiting ...
For some amazing people, childbirth can stimulate their gag reflex right from the onset of labor. This means that a handful of people may vomit from the beginning to end of their labor... There can be relief as there is medication that can help stop this trigger. So, if this is you, ask for relief if you feel you need it!! I also want to make clear that is a small percentage of people and not the norm.
For others, vomiting once or twice can be very common in labor. It usually occurs during the transitional phase in labor when your body is ramping up efforts to release your baby.
Labor can simply make people nauseous at a certain point as our bodies are working so hard. In addition, your belly is contracting on your stomach too which can make the contents come up.
Many people also experience shaking, sweating and dry mouth. All very common in labor. The good thing about vomiting in this later part of labor is that it usually means that your baby is coming soon! Nurses, doulas and birth assistants are usually very excited when vomiting happens as it is a sign you are getting close to meeting your baby. Again, this is not the time to be inhibited!! Releasing, even vomit, it a BIG theme in labor! We need to embrace the messiness of life!
I hope that this has been useful for you and gives you some comfort! Click here for Part 2 of Childbirth Fears!