labor nurse has been reborn and shares her experiences as a new nurse-midwife, woman, and blogger

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Poop....

....because shit happens. And it does happen in labor.

So many women worry about pooping during labor and when they push. And I can't alleviate anyone's fear by saying it doesn't happen, because it does. But not one except the women tends to care about it.

There are things that can be done to make it less anxiety provoking. One is the thought that if you were lucky enough to get the shits prior to labor (read my post about what happens before labor under The Childbirth Education Series on the right hand side) then you are likely fairly well emptied out. If not, start pushing on the toilet. Granted, this can only occur if you do not have an epidural and/or a provider who has locked you to the bed. You won't get to birth there (but maybe squatting near by!) on the toilet, but if you are going to poop, what a great place to be!

Your nurse (should) has tons of chux pads - disposable absorbent pads with a water proof backing - that she keeps under your butt while in bed. I know I frequently bring in several packages of the chux because they are so handy. I also have baby wipes in the room, too, in case it gets a little messy. The other thing the nurse will do is quickly and discreetly wisk away any poop that comes out. This is for mutual reasons for all parties involved: less embarrassment for the woman who is anxious about it and the less time it hangs around the less everyone smells it.

If this is a concern for you, let your nurse know. This way she can be super vigilant and super discreet for all involved. Not saying alarms would go off for those women who didn't say they were nervous about it, but it is just a nice heads up to the nurse because it is so second nature to us that we may not detect your fears.

10 comments:

womantowomancbe said...

I've heard of women asking for enemas because they were afraid they would poop, and were much more relaxed and at ease knowing they were "cleaned out." Has this ever happened to you? Would you suggest it to a woman who seemed uptight about the whole pooping thing?

-Kathy

Joyce said...

I didn't worry about this at all with the birth of my first child and I honestly don't remember if I pooped or peed during the pushing phase. The birth of my second child I can remember peeing and telling the nurse I was peeing as I was pushing and she just said don't worry, that's okay. My concern was that it would hurt the baby's eyes once he was born.

Ethel said...

When I had a b.m. with my 2nd (first c-section) the nurses said nothing and tried to be super quick in removal, but I noticed and asked if I had pooped. They laughed since I just rolled my eyes when they said yes. Why would you be embarrassed about poop when your legs are splayed, your vulva is open for the world to see your vagina, and you're grunting and sweating, and going through the effort of having a child?

It's as bad as gals in my grandmother's generation who were embarrassed about being pregnant, because it implied they had sex - had to say "in the family way". Yeesh.

Joanne said...

My mother is a doula who works with a lot of teen moms. She had a teenage client once who was so freaked out by the feeling that she might poop while pushing, that she refused to push and got a cesarian. I feel so badly for this poor girl who was so self-consious and afraid that she had to have major surgery because she was terrified of a little poop!

Labor Nurse said...

Joanne, OMG! I can't imagine that fear being so bad it lead to surgery. I wonder what else might have really been going on in that girl's head....

Kathy, as far as women asking for enemas...I've never come across this, but I am sure other nurse's have. I think there are some women that will never have their fears alleviated regardless of what is said to her to make her less self-conscious. But, I think acknowledging the fear, explaining that you will be discreet about cleaning things up, and focusing on the normalcy of her experiences is the best anyone can do.

But, I am open to suggestions!

Anonymous said...

This post is a great example of why women are so scared of things like this...

"Granted, this can only occur if you do not have an epidural and/or a provider who has locked you to the bed. "

"Your nurse (should) has tons of chux pads "

Many of us don't have control over who helps us during labor, so comments like this leave big scary question marks in the air. All the education in the world doesn't alleviate fears if the education is: "things will go well, unless you have a mean doctor, or your nurse isn't prepared, or you need a c-section or epidural, etc etc etc." I know there isn't an answer for this complaint, but perhaps it isn't a lack of education that has so many women worried about losing control during labor. It's being forced (by insurance, usually) into a birth setting that takes the control away.

It's not your fault, rebirth nurse. But reading this post makes me more worried, not less.

Labor Nurse said...

Anonymous, I'm curious how the two are related. The thing is, even with insurance mandates and dictatorships, many times there are choices for providers. I can tell you that in regards to nurses, you can ask for another if the one you currently have is not clicking for you. Many times there are other doctors available, typically called the "back up physician on call". Perhaps this isn't what you meant, but that is how I read your comment.

Either way, I certainly didn't mean to make women more scared, but in fact alleviate some of the anxiety about pooping during labor.

Anonymous said...

I can only speak for my situation, but my insurance only covers one HMO, which only had an opening for one OB. This OB works in a practice of 11 doctors, and only one is on call at a time. From what I've witnessed and heard, each doctor has different beliefs, techniques, etc. The more I learn, the more scared I am that I will end up with one who "locks me to the bed". Reading blogs like this makes me realize that in less I luck out and get the one progressive doctor in the practice, there isn't much I can do to take charge of my labor. I want to have a midwife or a home birth, but I don't have that option. In my case, all the education in the world doesn't change the reality of how I will be treated during the birth, and hearing about the risks of "bad OBs" terrifies me.

SacredAngel said...

Anonymous has a point. I know at some hospital they get so busy if you ask for another nurse they're going to give you the side eye. There often ISN'T another nurse because all the nurses are so busy.

Joy said...

Doesn't bother me in the least- it's just part of the process. My husband had his eyes glued on me the whole time and said I never did go (with either birth) but he may have been traumatized! Ha ha! Seriously, though, when I get nervous I go to the bathroom. So the first thing I do when I slip on the hospital gown is go to the bathroom! So maybe that's why.