Of Birth and Bowel Movements

This is not a blog about the fear of pooping during birth, but rather a few points designed to make you think and possibly question the way most women give birth.

Think about these following points for a moment

  • When you need to have a bowel movement, do you go and lie down on your back with your knees at your ears? No because that would be crazy! You sit upright on a toilet (ideally with your feet elevated on a squatty potty) and utilize gravity to assist in the elimination process. Why then do doctors have women lie down on their backs when it comes time to push their baby out?

    • When you need to have a bowel movement, do you find a brightly lit area with a lot of people around? No because that would be crazy! You find a bathroom and you close and lock the door so you will not be interrupted. Why then are there so many people coming and going when the birthing women is trying to birth her baby with the lights on?
    • When you have a bowel movement, do you push when someone tells you to and do you hold your breath while they count to 10? No because that would be crazy! You wait for the urge and add a small push if needed (ideally there should be little to no pushing needed to empty your rectum). Why then are birthing women told when to push and told to hold their breath and push like they are having a bowel movement?
    • When you get a signal that you need to have a bowel movement, do you immediately start pushing? No because that would be crazy! You find privacy, and allow the urges to move your bowels. Pushing before you feel the urge can actually slow the process down, lead to constipation and can be detrimental to your pelvic floor. Why then are women not allowed to respond to their own body’s signals?
    • And you know how when you get a signal that you need to have a bowel movement but maybe you are in a meeting and can’t leave or maybe you are on a crowded bus so you clench your bottom and wait for the signal to subside. And then often times, the signal doesn’t come back again until maybe the next day but then the stool has become hardened and therefore more difficult to pass leading to constipation? Well the same thing happens in birth. Women begin labour and are feeling urges and then someone comes into the room to check on them, taking them out of the moment and forced to ignore the signals. Over time this leads to ‘stalled labour’ or ‘failure to progress’. Basically it is the equivalent of constipation!

    Birth has become something that is done to women rather than something women do. There are so many interruptions and interventions that prevent the normal physiological process from happening and progressing. If women could be surrounded by support, in a warm, dimly lit environment with little interruption and allowed to move and be upright and feel and respond to the signals of the body, I believe there would be a significant decrease in birth constipation.