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What It’s REALLY Like To Poop While Giving Birth

Labor fears . . .

I refer to it as “The Incident.”

I attended the child-birthing classes. I knew how to breathe. I read every book on giving birth ever printed. But I was totally unprepared for what I call “The Incident,” which was a horrifying event that took place in the delivery room.

Let’s back up a little bit.

I was raised in a religious home by conservative parents who placed great emphasis on etiquette. I couldn’t bring myself to mention shaving my legs in front of my father until I was in college. I’m not one of those girls who will burp or pass gas to get a laugh. The fact that I just typed “pass gas” as opposed to “fart” pretty much sums it up. I’m not a prude; I just have strong feelings about what it means to treat ourselves and others with respect.

Alright, there’s your back story. Now fast-forward to me being hugely pregnant.

I asked my dad if he’d rather be at the hospital while I labored or be the one to babysit our then-four-year-old son. He said he’d like to be there and that he felt helpless enough out in the waiting room. It would be much worse for his nerves if he wasn’t even in the same building.

Knowing I had a spot open in the delivery room, I told him he was welcome to join us for the actual birth. I’d be in enough pain that I wouldn’t care who was there, as long as they were quiet. I told him I was fine with it either way, and to my surprise, he decided to be in the room while I delivered the baby.

Granted, he took the chair on the other side of the equipment from which he couldn’t see me at all, but he was there and could hear everything. Hear— and smell everything.

I was deep in labor, attempting to tune the world out, and I felt it. Something was … happening. Something that wasn’t a baby was making its way out down there. I was pooping. On the delivery table. In front of other people.

This hadn’t happened to me the first time I’d given birth. How could this be happening?! Horrified as the smell hit my nose, I gasped through the contraction to my husband that he should get the nurse because I’d crapped myself. My husband is a little hard of hearing, so I had to repeat, louder, “Get a nurse! I just crapped myself.”

The poor nurse was in right away to clean me up, and no one in my family has spoken of it since. I did lots of Google searches on the topic since “The Incident,” and it turns out it’s a pretty common occurrence. The same muscles that push out a baby also push out waste, so it makes sense that if you have anything in your bowels, it’s getting pushed out, too.

They used to administer enemas to laboring moms for this reason but now I guess they’d rather allow us to be completely mortified by pooping in front of friends and family.

So if you’ve got a bun in the oven, let me be so kind as to warn you: you may deliver a little something extra. Wrap your mind around that now and warn your loved-ones before it’s too late.

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Comments (58)

  1. Deb 02/03/2017 at 7:35 pm

    I’m a nurse in L and D, and as a former “pooper” (at 19, mind you!) I consider it my DUTY to warn my patients that pooping is inevitable. Consider the female anatomy–you basically have 2 hollow “tubes” stacked on top of one another, and if there is ANYTHING in the lower tube when the baby’s head comes down, that crap 💩 is going to be squished out like squeezing a sausage out of the casing. It. Will. Happen. The whole enema thing didn’t work–I had one at 19 and still humiliated myself–THAT is why I tell all my patients this story! Approximately 75% of deliveries are “fragrant,” and if you didn’t have one the first time, consider yourself lucky. (The worst deliveries are those where moms take castor oil to put themselves into labor–even for a professional pooper scooper, those are disgusting!). So chin up–it may be the first time you’ve pooped in front of your family, but it’s certainly not the first time it’s happened. 😘

  2. Anne 01/21/2017 at 3:12 am

    With my 1st delivery I felt the urge to empty before going into the delivery room (back in the day when you were wheeled into a delivery room). At first the nurse said it was just pressure, but I was adamant about needing a bed pan since they wouldn’t unhook all of those wires. Thank goodness I… went with my gut. (LOL!)
    Only 15 months later I was in the delivery room again telling the doctor that I had to poop. He tried to tell me it was the baby. I replied, “This is not my first rodeo. Get the toilet paper because I’M GOING TO POOP!” He kept trying to tell me otherwise untill I pooped and they had to change the sheets. If only he had listened.

  3. Natilie 01/16/2017 at 8:27 pm

    Lmao I knew it was going to happen when I was having my first and the nurse kept refusing to let me use the wash room and assured me it was just the baby coming! I got so fed up with someone knowing more about my bodily functions than me I assured her she would be cleaning it up😂 And sure enough I was right 😏

  4. Jeffery 10/25/2016 at 3:25 pm

    I remember my first time pooping, it was great

  5. Jerald 10/25/2016 at 2:55 pm

    I remember the first time I shat while giving birth, best day of my life. (The pooping, not the child)

    • Jeffery 10/25/2016 at 3:26 pm

      Thats great! My first poop was really great too!

  6. Catherine 09/20/2016 at 3:38 am

    This is normal. Luckily I was aware of it before it happened. My midwives were brilliant though, they just said, ‘we need another sheet for the bed’. Or something like that. Really, I was far too deep into labour to give a hoot about pooping or whatever was going on down there. Birth is messy. The labouring mother is the important one, not the delicate sensibilities of the attendants.

  7. Charlie 09/19/2016 at 9:10 pm

    My second child was born at home. So until transitional labor hit, my wife pretty much stayed on the pot to take care of all her emptying needs. It paid off. When it was time to deliver, all that came out was the baby and associated items from the same area. Not that she had much waste to dispose of before then. She was fortunate enough to be one of those mothers hit with nature’s enema the week she was due. But she did not allow anybody in the room with her until transitional labor came because she is very discreet and private due to past abuse she’s endured that makes it very difficult to let even those she trusts around her during certain situations. She wasn’t so fortunate with our first child and the hospital staff (that we’ve since learned have a nasty reputation about their bedside manner and ethics) laughed at her history and ended up making her issues several times worse with their negligence and arrogance. We were able to get several of them fired for malpractice, but undoing the damage they’ve done and the accompanying PTSD has taken years and we still have a long way to go.

    • Catherine 09/20/2016 at 3:40 am

      What awful hospital staff! Glad you got them fired, how unprofessional and cruel of them to laugh at her!

  8. Holly 07/02/2016 at 1:47 am

    I was so worried about pooping with my 1st that a laboured till almost 10cm on the toilet lol… but with my second I wasn’t allowed an sure enough I pooped I remember being mid contraction an saying I’m so sorry I just shat. The nurse tried telling me I hadn’t an my reply was It stinks i know iv just shat I’m so sorry!! 😕😂

  9. Manju Jacob 07/01/2016 at 11:33 pm

    This happened the first time , so for the second I asked the mid wife if they would use the enema. They said its a sign for them that the head is coming the right way and its normal and that they have no issues with that. AS natural as possible with less intervention. Don’t know about the head coming out properly sign thing but then I made sure not to have a heavy meal before labour but a light sandwich. You know what I mean!!!

  10. Stephie 06/24/2016 at 1:39 pm

    In reference to Kerry’s comment below, I agree! What sort of hospital were you in that at the very least there wasn’t even a nurse in the room with you during delivery? Also, Kerry, we do have midwives in the U.S. They are just far less common for most people to use. 😉
    That reply out of the way, I’m currently pregnant with our first so, Oh joy! Something new to look forward to about the process! Lol. I doubt I will be embarrassed because as they say “everybody poops”. Lol

    • Catherine 09/20/2016 at 3:42 am

      Don’t worry. Birth is messy and you will be so happy to have your baby that you won’t be bothered about a bit of poo. If you’re worried about the hospital staff’s comments, they have seen it all before many times so won’t mind. Sending love xx

  11. Terri 05/23/2016 at 9:25 am

    All three births, all three kids. By the last time I was resigned to the coming embarrassment. A minute of dissociation from my body and it was all over. :p

  12. V 04/22/2016 at 9:01 am

    Same thing happened to me w my
    Second child we laugh about it now even our 15 yr old she says she had a twin but it had to be flushed lmao embarrassing but we make the best of it

  13. Told them so 04/20/2016 at 8:05 pm

    I remember with my first feeling the need to go and asked the nurse for a bed pan because I needed to go. She told me I didn’t and that it was just the pressure from my baby (this was during prep for the dr to come in). I got really annoyed when I ended up proving them wrong and crapped the bed. They barely got it cleaned up as the dr came in. Was embarrassed by it for a long time. My second was born so fast (within 10 mins of my water breaking) I never pooped. I confirmed this with my hubby too. I did want to punch the male nurse who actually had the audacity to tell me I wasn’t pushing but that’s another story.

  14. Barbar 04/20/2016 at 4:41 pm

    Years ago they always give you an enema so that wouldn’t happen.

  15. Trina 04/20/2016 at 11:20 am

    I never did with 3 births but was always terrified I would! Or maybe I did and no one told me. I did have video of all 3 so Im pretty sure it didnt happen.

  16. katrouble 04/20/2016 at 3:18 am

    When delivering my second child, I was on my knees facing the wall and i swore I felt the nurse wipe it away.
    Later, after bub arrived and things had calmed down i asked my mum and husband if i pooped…mum said no, hubby said yes! Guess who I believed!! Lol! Love ur honesty babe!

  17. Jac 04/19/2016 at 11:14 pm

    I was terrified of this happening as we’d been told about it in classes.
    I ended up having to have an epidural do couldn’t feel much downstairs but after having my daughter said to my partner proud as punch “I didn’t poo!!!!” To which he replied very sheepishly and scrambling to find a nice way to say it “ahhh, yeah you did, you just didn’t feel it and the nurse was very discreet in cleaning it up quickly” I was devastated!

  18. Stephanie 04/07/2016 at 3:45 pm

    Oh man I wasn’t embarrassed that I pooped while in labor, but it was a bit annoyed that I continued to poop the ENTIRE four hours I was pushing for… ugh.

  19. Rebecca 03/07/2016 at 7:22 pm

    Early in the pushing stage of delivery, a nurse held a bit chutz pad over my butt and pulled away anything that came out. I wasn’t embarrassed at all as I was busy delivering a baby. I did warn my husband that it would likely happen.

  20. Kerry 03/05/2016 at 11:20 am

    I’m assuming you are in the US as you refer to your health provider as a nurse and not a midwife. I was really shocked that she wasn’t in the room with you while you was pushing! Awful care provision!

    • Liz 04/21/2016 at 9:58 am

      Actually, in the US most births are not attended by a midwife. Most moms go to hospitals where they are cared for by nurses until the pushing stage, when the doctor takes over. You can choose to be under the care of a midwife and/or doula, but this is quite different from a nurse’s role.

  21. Jen 02/24/2016 at 9:31 am

    I’m sorry you were mortified! It’s a super normal thing to happen when you deliver. Remember: A BABY EXITS YOUR BODY!!
    I was slightly taken aback but then was like Whatever this happens to everyone! And means you are pushing right! And then you get your beautiful babe so all is forgotten and you feel powerful cuz you just brought a human being to the world! And that’s Amazing!

    • Catherine 09/20/2016 at 3:44 am

      Yes! That is the way to think about it. Being a woman is messy anyway. Giving birth is messier. It is just life and part of the process of producing a human being from your body 🙂

  22. LoLo 02/24/2016 at 5:08 am

    If your L&D nurses are worth their salt, you can (& will) poop & no one will be the wiser; my nurses were total rockstar pro’s – I am still not 100% sure if I delivered some “extra” – they were right there to make sure I never suffered any form of embarassment. For those who state they haven’t pooped during delivery; you most likely did a teeny, tiny bit, but your nurses were amazing and took care of it so quickly that you & the people in the delivery room with you never had a chance to notice! (Side note; I’m *not* a nurse – I’m in med school, however, so I know the dedication these ladies & gents have!)

    • Abbie 04/07/2016 at 6:41 pm

      As a nurse I can say from experience, everyone poops. Even if it is just a little, everyone poops. 😊 But that’s a good thing and we are happy to see it because that means you are pushing correctly!

  23. Fabs 02/24/2016 at 4:42 am

    I’m a nurse and had been used to a lot of pooping moms in the delivery table. It’s one of the things that is EXPECTED already, if not, then good. So when I delivered my baby and pooping a little, I know it wasn’t a big deal at all.

  24. Little Sparrow 02/19/2016 at 9:35 pm

    Had an epidural when I had my son and could not feel a thing when I delivered. Ended up pooping myself and wasn’t even aware of it until after the event. My mil and partner were both in the room. It was originally going to be my grandmother as well (as long as everyone stayed out of the way and cleared out in case of emergency, they didn’t care how many were in the room). About 30 minutes of pushing (and believe me, I spent a lot of time before going to the hospital trying to poop) and delivered a little extra. Been warning my partner about it for weeks before thw actual delivery. No shame. It happens more often than not I think.

  25. lois 02/18/2016 at 2:14 am

    Pooping while giving birth gives the baby mammas bacteria. Its a little dose that the baby can handle if baby touches it. Babys immunity kicks in and starts fighting back with its white blood cells…makes them less prone to things that mamma has already fought off.

    • LnD nurse 02/18/2016 at 5:42 pm

      Sorry Lois. This is a completely ridiculous and false statement.

    • Audrey 02/24/2016 at 4:33 am

      That’s the biggest load of nonsense I’ve ever read!!

    • Kerry 03/05/2016 at 11:25 am

      Not quite the right idea. It’s true that babies get some of there bacteria that way but it’s definitely not the poop it’s gained through the babies nose and mouth sweeping the perineum when the head is born.

  26. Bethany 02/13/2016 at 6:54 pm

    I’ve had 3 “incidents”. Ironically only TWO children.

  27. Lacey 02/13/2016 at 8:52 am

    I was so affraid of this happening. I spent 20 hours of labor getting up and trying to go, before I accepted the epidural. As the pushing started, I could feel it. I made two comments that it was happening before the nurse used her finger to finish the job. And all she said was “that’s over, now let’s get this baby out.”

    • Amy 02/17/2016 at 7:38 pm

      22 years ago, I had my first baby. I also had an epidural, and I could not feel anything. My husband was in the room with me, and I heard a very loud “toot”. My eyes widened, and I looked at him, and just said, really? Do you feel better? He says, that was YOU!!! Mortification #1. Time comes to push. Again, cannot feel urge, so I was being directed by the nurse. I mentioned that I had no clue HOW to push, because I couldn’t feel anything at all. She said, oh, you’re doing it correctly. You push the same way you would if you were having a bowel movement, and you just passed a little bit, so yeah, you’re doing it! Keep going! Mortification #2. I was so ashamed, I wanted to sink under the bed. I had never passed gas in front of my husband! Like I said, that was 22 years ago, and that memory is burned in my brain as much as the birth!! It’s totally normal and common, but I thought I had never been more embarrassed in my life! When you get pregnant, all dignity goes out the window! 😉

      • Netty 04/21/2016 at 8:21 am

        OMG! I almost cried reading your comment!!! 😂😂😂

        • Name 08/17/2016 at 2:11 pm

          That is hilarious! Right there with you sister.

      • Catherine 09/20/2016 at 3:47 am

        “When you get pregnant, all dignity goes out the window.” Sooooo true!! I was talking with some playground mummies about weight issues and one said “well once you’ve had a baby you’re not self conscious about anything, are you?” We all nodded! Sisters!

  28. Erin 02/13/2016 at 3:47 am

    To call this “a horrible event in the delivery room”, even satirically, could be insulting to anyone that truly had a horrible delivery.

    • Crystal 02/14/2016 at 2:02 am

      Dear sir. I’ve had gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, almost died twice in childbirth, one because they couldn’t stop the bleeding! I almost bled out! And let me ASSURE you, that pooping while you’re giving birth is a horrible event!! It’s worse than almost dying– you have to look those people in the eye later. Just sayin.

      • mep2 02/24/2016 at 4:03 pm

        My child and I almost died during delivery and let me tell you…I would have rather had my sh*t all over the place then loose my baby and die. Priorities.
        And I didn’t poop while in labor but would have gladly done so to avoid the labor I had.

      • Michelle 02/25/2016 at 10:33 am

        Pooping is worse than almost dying? For real? This right here is what’s wrong with the world. Who gives a shit what others think, you just delivered a baby! I’m proud to say I shit myself during both of my deliveries. No shame!

  29. Janet 02/13/2016 at 2:11 am

    I delivered my first child the same way. My sister and husband were at my side, and my sister went to kneel on the edge of the bed but the nurse quickly said “Hon, don’t put your knee there, she pooped”. I just laughed. It happens to a lot of women, and my sister almost landed in it…

  30. Crystal P 02/13/2016 at 12:17 am

    When my mom delivered my brother she had been in labor for a day and a half. As she was almost ready to deliver him she told the doctor that she needed to poop. He kept brushing it off and telling her that it was just the baby, not poop. She told him she’d delivered a baby before and she knew this was not the baby. However the doctor still brushed it off…until she started pooping on the delivery room table. She said the doctor suddenly started yelling for the nurse to bring towels because she had pooped. My mom’s response. ….”I told you I had to poop.”

  31. rissalynn 02/09/2016 at 1:47 pm

    I’ve had 3 kiddos (first 2 induced, none with an epidural), and they administered an enema the night before #2 was scheduled for induction. Guess which one I pooped on the delivery table for? Yup. The one that they gave me an enema for! What the heck?! Never happened with the other two kiddos… Not fair, I tell you. Not fair! 😛

  32. Frankie59 01/31/2016 at 11:50 am

    It’s quite normal for this to happen. The body makes sure to give the baby as much room as possible while passing through the birth canal. Giving birth is a very messy, bloody, painful and tiring event. A lot of babies are born covered in their own first poop if their birthing process stressed them out too much. So you pooping helps your baby. Love your body for its wisdom. 😉

  33. MomOf8 01/29/2016 at 8:13 pm

    I have 8 kids and luckily never pooped during delivery. I was so scared that would happen. It’s silly to worry about, I know. My DR gave me an enema early on with most of my deliveries so I was all cleared out.

  34. MommaJoy 01/02/2016 at 9:15 pm

    The night before our third child was going to be born, my beloved husband took me out to a ritzy restaurant for Chocolate Sabayon cake and tea. The first 2kids were born with an epidural…I didn’t feel a thing. Third one came FAST, so no drugs. I felt that warm chocolate poop come out and was mortified! Doctor and nurses all just laughed and assured me it happens all the time. Totally made me at ease! And now it’s just a great story!

  35. maryann 12/31/2015 at 2:47 am

    You have to ask for the enema now. From what I understand it may speed up the dilation a little also.

  36. southernguy 12/26/2015 at 9:54 am

    My wife pooped with our last child. Just a small one. The nurse quickly wiped it away and never commented on it. We never smelled anything. I’m not 100% sure my wife even remembers it. I think she realized it at the time, but we never talked about it.

    I did realize that I let pass the chance of a lifetime by not saying, “Looks like he takes after your side of the family.” You don’t get a second chance at that.

  37. Sydney 12/21/2015 at 5:00 pm

    I’m pretty sure I pooped while pushing with my second child. The labor went extremely quick so I guess that’s why my bowels weren’t empty. With my other two I made sure to go while I was in early labor so I guess there was nothing there. Lol. I still don’t know for sure if I did, I’m too scared to ask my husband, I don’t want confirmation that he saw that. Lol

    • Hannah 02/01/2016 at 3:26 pm

      I head that sometimes you don’t even no you pooped but do you believed that if I go to the toilet before the second stage I might not. I am pregnant with my first son an am so scared of going when my partners mum will be in the room Lol

      • Loobylou 02/13/2016 at 1:57 pm

        Don’t be worried. It is perfectly natural and to be honest your mother in law probably did it anyway x

  38. Dani 12/14/2015 at 7:50 pm

    had an epidural so I had no idea if I was pooping or not. Could not feel a darn thing down there. I never smelled anything, but my mom told me later that some poop did come out when I pushed bit the nurse just wiped it away immediately without me ever knowing. My mom said it looked like she had done it a million times before and it was no big deal. Trust me, when you’re giving birth that is the last thing you care about, at least for me. If you’re pregnant, throw your shame out the window!

  39. Sarah 12/14/2015 at 8:01 am

    Good thing I had my kids in Portugal! We don’t get an enema but they give us a quick laxative before entering the delivery room, to make sure everything is cleaned up in there before the pushing starts…

  40. Kelsy 12/14/2015 at 6:40 am

    I pooped on the bed, in front of everyone… All I could yell out was – I’M POOPING!!!! And then right afterward my baby came out. I had no control over it. No shame!