Join 3,500 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Birth and Pooping
August 24, 2011 9:44 PM   Subscribe

"I have been inspired to write a post about, what seems to be, the number one thing on every pregnant woman’s mind…POOP!". On Jezebel: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Pooping During Childbirth. The Poop Report (Your #1 Source for #2, previously) weighs in.
posted by Deathalicious (106 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
ummm...my pregnant mind is primarily focused on the massive amount of pain and bleeding I expect to experience in a couple months here, followed by the responsibility of caring for a helpless screaming creature. Pooping is a distant third or fourth or... twelfth concern.
posted by daisystomper at 9:47 PM on August 24, 2011 [10 favorites]


Wow, i hope Ursula K LeGuin doesn't read this post.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 9:48 PM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, i hope Ursula K LeGuin doesn't read this post.

I said poop.
posted by Deathalicious at 9:56 PM on August 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well, my goodness.

I'll be.

Had no idea this happened, but I suppose it makes sense. Luckily, totally irrelevant to my life. :D
posted by kavasa at 9:58 PM on August 24, 2011


yes...and that is why you take an enema before you give birth! problem solved!
posted by tastycracker at 10:00 PM on August 24, 2011


It's all part of nature's delicate balance.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:02 PM on August 24, 2011


Why must people, when there is a baby involved, feel compelled to share poop stories on the Internet?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:03 PM on August 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's kind of a fact of life about giving birth, isn't it? Also, it can be very dangerous if the infant accidentally inhales excrement in the moments following birth. No joke.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:03 PM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Had no idea this happened, but I suppose it makes sense. Luckily, totally irrelevant to my life. :D

To quote a friend of mine, "Yeah, it happens. It won't wig you out, though -- you're too busy being distracted from the human head emerging from your crotch."
posted by KathrynT at 10:03 PM on August 24, 2011 [29 favorites]


Argh, distracted BY. Jeez.
posted by KathrynT at 10:04 PM on August 24, 2011


This is really dumb and bad and makes me unhappy.

Manufacturing an issue to get eyeballs for your blog -- the number one thing, really? -- at the risk of triggering (or creating) body-shame issues in pregnant women. No, this is not adaptive behavior. If we lived in a tribe on the African savannah, this blogger would be pelted with stones and yes, also dung.

Pregnant women, you are beautiful. You are, indeed, the primary reason we ever evolved to live in groups, so that we could take better care of you. Our survival as a species depends on you; please don't let anyone make you care about dumb things.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 10:04 PM on August 24, 2011 [33 favorites]


My lovely girlfriend shared the Jezebel link with me earlier to (she tweeted me: ahahaahahhaaah....read this) and I decided that this is just one more reason why I will not be the guy who's got a videocamera shoved between his wife's legs while she's giving birth. I'll stay up above the waist until the babies out, thank you very much.
posted by asnider at 10:05 PM on August 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Everything below the waist...is kaput!
posted by kirkaracha at 10:06 PM on August 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


all videocameras in MY delivery room will be shattered by my ultrasonic screaming, thanks.
posted by daisystomper at 10:06 PM on August 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


wasn't Gassy Purgatory a member of the Wu-Tang back in the day?
posted by mannequito at 10:13 PM on August 24, 2011


Why am I not surprised to see so many websites devoted to the minutiae of childbirth and absolutely nothing about the pain that others of us must endure, which scientists have found is seven times worse. I wish all i had to worry about was tearing my vaginal walls and pooping in front of strangers.
posted by scunning at 10:14 PM on August 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm guessing this is only a (perceived) problem for people who have not yet had kids. Once you've had a kid you're up to your eyeballs in all manner of shit, real and metaphoric.

I think before I had a kid a big concern for me would be dealing with constant diapers and general mess. That's not the case at all. Shit is the least of your worries. Sure it's gross from time to time but half the time you're just happy that they're doing it at all.

The most troublesome thing as a parent, for me, is the constant worry that they'll get hurt, and that I'm now never going to be the most important person in my life. I'm largely irrelevant.
posted by jimmythefish at 10:14 PM on August 24, 2011 [9 favorites]


Second sentence of the blog post: I know what you're thinking: Does this mean I might lose even more weight in the hospital?

Fuck you, Jezebel, and your fauxfeminist bullshit.
posted by incessant at 10:14 PM on August 24, 2011 [65 favorites]


I cared a lot about this happening. Then the pain meds wore off, pushing began and I never thought twice about it.
posted by Sweetmag at 10:25 PM on August 24, 2011


Manufacturing an issue to get eyeballs for your blog -- the number one thing, really? -- at the risk of triggering (or creating) body-shame issues in pregnant women.

If you read the full article you'll note that the author says that the top 7 searches on her website involved concerns about poop. Every article I have run across seems to reflect these basic truths:So rather than manufacturing an issue, seems like a fair number of women are simply saying "Wait, you're telling me on top of everything else that I'm probably going to crap myself?" And the articles are all saying, "Yeah, but it's not a big deal."

Fuck you, Jezebel, and your fauxfeminist bullshit.

Yeah, I wasn't wild about that part at all. But the story at the end is very sweet.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:30 PM on August 24, 2011 [8 favorites]


I'm glad we could use these articles, written in an attempt to help women through something that at least appears to be something that concerns some of them, as a springboard to play Fuck You Not Enough Feminist.
posted by 0xFCAF at 10:31 PM on August 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Just during child birth? I'm worried about this constantly, and I'm not even a woman!
posted by tumid dahlia at 10:32 PM on August 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


I was really young when I had my daughter so that totally informed my experiences but GOD was I ever worried about this. The whole medical handling of pregnancy just felt so devoid of dignity, privacy and control that I desperately wished for this one thing to not be completely fucking mortifying.

Then I ended up in labor for 45 hours and had an emergency c-section. But hey, no public pooping!

Be careful what you wish for...
posted by Space Kitty at 10:34 PM on August 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, I can understand it, embarrassment about poop; when I was in the hospital after those dang heart attacks laid me out, I had to stay in bed, weak they said, and had a damn catheter in me, which, apparently, makes you feel all the time like you've REALLY got to take a leak, all the damn time. So I'd tell them "Hey, look -- I've REALLY got to take a leak." but they were thoughtless, didn't care about my needs. And after a few days I had other needs, too, and I mentioned them, and the nurse brought me something to poop in, apparently I said "No, cats shit in boxes, not me; look, the john is right over there." but again, no compassion, these people in the 'so-called' care business, nurses and all, they are hard-hearted.

So one night my siblings foolishly left me in the care of two friends of mine, rather than keeping someone around who knew the stubborn in me, I pulled that damn catheter out, yanked out cords and plugs and wires and got out of bed and walked over to the john, took care of business -- door closed no doubt -- and like to died again because I was so weak; they had to get staff to put me back in the bed, and everybody got all fussy.

I don't remember any of this, it's what I've been told; I have no memory at all of my time in the hospital because my brain was so compromised from lack of oxygen. But it does sound like me, the fool in me, so shame-bound by bodily functions that I'd about rather jump off the roof.
posted by dancestoblue at 10:39 PM on August 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Agreed that this is probably going to be a somewhat embarrassing time in your life.
I have a friend who had her baby in a teaching hospital. Someone came in to her room, so she assumed it was just a student, and opened up her legs to give him a look-see. It turned out to be a mortified janitor.
posted by Gilbert at 10:47 PM on August 24, 2011 [26 favorites]


Back in the '70s, when women could still ban husbands from delivery rooms, my then-wife did so, twice, and so I never got to exclaim "Shit! ... It's a Boy!!" even once, although I could've said it twice, in truth, it seems.
posted by paulsc at 10:49 PM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fuck you, Jezebel, and your fauxfeminist bullshit.

F-SIDE REPRESENT!
posted by Hoopo at 10:57 PM on August 24, 2011


Just as an FYI, if you say "poop" in Australian English, you're probably about four years old. It is infantile.
posted by wilful at 10:58 PM on August 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Huh. I've been right up close for four births and never saw this, never knew about it, never even considered it.

Or maybe the floppy emergence of placenta just erased it from my mind.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:00 PM on August 24, 2011


This is a non-topic. During childbirth no one cares about it. Its just an attention grabbing article to write.
posted by therubettes at 11:26 PM on August 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


I have a theory that the ninth month of pregnancy is to make you NOT CARE what goes on during labor and/or delivery as long as the baby GETS OUT OF YOU ("SIXTY TWO PEOPLE ARE LOOKING AT MY VAGINA, YOU SAY? SURE, LET SIXTY-THREE GET A PEEK!" "YOU HAVE TO CUT ME IN HALF AND SHOW THE WORLD MY INTESTINES TO GET A STUCK BABY LOOSE? WHATEVER, SOUNDS FUN!").

And the purpose of labor and delivery is to make you lose all shreds of shame so that when it comes to breastfeeding, you'll whip that sucker out anywhere and not be bothered at all when the lactation consultant gets all hands-on to help your kid latch.

And all of THAT is preparation for when your child learns to talk and pops out winners like, "MOMMY, WHY DOES THAT MANY HAVE A TATTOO ON HIS FACE? YOU SAID I COULDN'T HAVE A FACE TATTOOS BECAUSE THEY'RE ONLY FOR FELONS! IS HE A FELON?"

In short, pooping during labor is just one more way mother nature ensures you eventually feed your child.

I had a C-section, so pooping wasn't a concern during the procedure, but afterwards you have so much trapped air that has to process out that they're VERY concerned. So every time the nurse came in she'd say "And has the baby been passing gas?" (because all of the baby's bodily functions are noteworthy) and we'd give the report, and then she'd turn to me and say, "And have you been passing gas?" and I'd give the report, and then I'd feel bad for my husband, because nobody cared how his farting was going and I didn't want him to feel left out, so I'd say, "And how's your gas-passing going, sweetie?" At which point he would attempt to fall through the floor.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:26 PM on August 24, 2011 [119 favorites]


I'm a father of three, and never noticed this during labour. Other stuff took all my attention.
posted by Harald74 at 11:29 PM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just as an FYI, if you say "poop" in Australian English, you're probably about four years old. It is infantile.

I always assumed that Americans just revert to cutesy-4yo-speak when talking about shit & shitting, out of a sense of social nicety. It never occurred to me even as a remote possibility that "poop" is actually the adult word in common currency.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:31 PM on August 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm glad we could use these articles, written in an attempt to help women through something that at least appears to be something that concerns some of them, as a springboard to play Fuck You Not Enough Feminist.

Jezebel presents itself as being the sensitive-to-body-image, pro-woman, anti-shame, positive-message-for-girls blog, and then in practically every single article it reverses that approach in some insidious sort of way. This isn't just Not Enough Feminist -- this is HEY YOU SHOULD BE WORRIED ABOUT YOUR WEIGHT, PREGGO. They're hypocrites. They make you feel bad about yourself while they're telling you how good about yourself you should feel. And they do it all for pageviews.
posted by incessant at 11:32 PM on August 24, 2011 [15 favorites]


I'm a father of three, and never noticed this during labour.

Also a father of three. Also never noticed it -- because it didn't happen. The pre-delivery enemas took care of it.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:39 PM on August 24, 2011


When my wife was pregnant with our son, we took a series of childbirth preparation classes through the hospital we had arranged for him to be born in, taught by one of the hospital's maternity nurses. She quoted the same statistic about fear of pooping on the table being the number one pre-childbirth concern of pregnant women. She went on to explain that doing so was completely natural and expected, and that such a thing was nothing to be embarrassed about as all of the medical personnel in the room were likely to have seen the same thing occur a countless number of times before.

As further reassurance, she asked one of the women in the class, who was on her second child and who had been a patient of this nurse for her first childbirth, "Did any of us act grossed out or disgusted when YOU pooped on the table?" Needless to say, the woman was appropriately mortified (and sheepishly denied having done so).
posted by The Gooch at 11:44 PM on August 24, 2011


Uh, this doesn't happen for everybody. I ate cheeseburgers and fries during both of my labors/births and still didn't poop at all during either one. The ole intestinal track was closed for business until several hours post-delivery; I figured it was a hormonal thing, like how you get constipated during the first few weeks of pregnancy.
posted by Asparagirl at 11:49 PM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ah, I see from the first article they don't give enemas any more. Who knew? Let the turds flow free!
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:50 PM on August 24, 2011


And to be honest, #2 is way more likely!
Arr, arr!
posted by Ardiril at 11:52 PM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


My lovely girlfriend shared the Jezebel link with me earlier to (she tweeted me: ahahaahahhaaah....read this) and I decided that this is just one more reason why I will not be the guy who's got a videocamera shoved between his wife's legs while she's giving birth. I'll stay up above the waist until the babies out, thank you very much.
Why not just crop it out if she does poop?

Seems like it would be easy to avoid this by reducing your food intake before birth and making sure things are 'clean' down there. Of course not every woman is on a predictable schedule.
posted by delmoi at 11:52 PM on August 24, 2011


I am pretty sure I didn't poop during my husband's vasectomy.

Might have when we adopted the cat, though.
posted by Lou Stuells at 11:55 PM on August 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


I always assumed that Americans just revert to cutesy-4yo-speak when talking about shit & shitting, out of a sense of social nicety. It never occurred to me even as a remote possibility that "poop" is actually the adult word in common currency.
It's just a more polite way of saying 'shit' in the U.S. "Shit" is one of Carlin's Seven Dirty Words you can't say on TV. But poop isn't.
posted by delmoi at 11:56 PM on August 24, 2011


delmoi what about poo rather than poop? In Australia, pooing is pretty common currency in even polite circles (well, as polite as they get if you're talking about rolling chocolate cigars...).
posted by smoke at 11:59 PM on August 24, 2011


delmoi, we understand the usage, and I'm not criticising it, I'm just observing that from an Australian English perspective, it's an infantile word, not one that any adult would use. Like "wee wee" for piss.
posted by wilful at 11:59 PM on August 24, 2011


My ex pooped just as the major pushing started. My only thought was, "Well, that confirms that theory."

Americans say "poop" when we actually mean "poop". "Shit", like "fuck", is meaningless.
posted by Ardiril at 12:04 AM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Shit", like "fuck", is meaningless.

What do you call fucking, then? "Snuggly-wugglies"?
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:12 AM on August 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


This is a non-topic. During childbirth no one cares about it. Its just an attention grabbing article to write.

This is kind of a weird reaction to the article. It's a topic, people do care about it. Did it make you uncomfortable to read about it or something?
posted by empath at 12:12 AM on August 25, 2011


Fucking is a gerund.
posted by Ardiril at 12:13 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think poop is mostly used in American when talking about or around kids, or in 'polite company'.

Most people just say 'shit' outside of that context.
posted by empath at 12:16 AM on August 25, 2011


This, if it happens, should be the absolute least of anyone's worries. I realize that's easier said than done, but honestly, there's about 50 other things more important than this that need to be dealt with for the health of the mom and the baby.
posted by Skygazer at 12:29 AM on August 25, 2011


Shit Happens
posted by bdragon at 12:34 AM on August 25, 2011


I had no idea. WHAT ELSE DO I NOT KNOW ABOUT?
posted by LarryC at 12:36 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Second sentence of the blog post: I know what you're thinking: Does this mean I might lose even more weight in the hospital?

Fuck you, Jezebel, and your fauxfeminist bullshit.


I interpreted that line as being tongue-in-cheek, subtly mocking that sort of reaction, but maybe I'm being too generous? Is Jezebel that bad? (I'm not that familiar with the site.)
posted by adso at 12:59 AM on August 25, 2011


I learned about this as a kid when I read Kramer vs. Kramer. I don't remember anything else about that book (other than I think they got divorced? I assume that was the point but I don't really remember it), but I remember the pooping.
posted by Danila at 1:21 AM on August 25, 2011


Seems like it would be easy to avoid this by reducing your food intake before birth and making sure things are 'clean' down there. Of course not every woman is on a predictable schedule.


Labor takes forever, it's not necessarily predictable, and avoiding food because you might go into labor and then poop like 3 days after you stopped eating would be ridiculous and probably not even helpful because when you're pregnant, the whole digestion thing gets slow, weird, and squished.

Besides, I've been having false labor on and off for days and it is abundantly clear to me that the uterus is a muscle and contractions are hard work. If I don't feel like eating, fine, but there is no way I would avoid eating if I was hungry and in early labor just over some theoretical future poop.

(There is no way I'm letting my partner watch the baby come out, though. He's a fainter.)
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:34 AM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


(Also, thanks for the post!)
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:36 AM on August 25, 2011


Oh and one more thing--I really don't worry about the medical people anymore. I used to, and then I went to labor and delivery at 2 in the morning, CONVINCED that my water had broken due to sudden mysterious fluid.

A brand new resident swabbed my vagina, asked me lots of detailed questions about the fluid in question, and then started to check my cervix. He was getting in there pretty close because he had some difficulty angling things right, but all was well until he got a little too forceful in the wrong direction while maneuvering the speculum. Reader, I peed on him.

Fluid mystery solved!
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:52 AM on August 25, 2011 [21 favorites]


I've given birth twice, both times vaginally, and I honestly couldn't tell you whether I shat or not. If I did, I don't remember it and neither my Mum nor my fiance at the time have ever mentioned it. They were at the business end during the actual crowning and emergence of my dear ones and were all 'oh, miracle of birth, a new life begins blah blah' not, 'holy shit Linda, you did a big smelly turd!'.
posted by h00py at 1:55 AM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


the number one thing on every pregnant woman’s mind…POOP!"

No it's number two.
posted by w0mbat at 2:07 AM on August 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


What one word is curiously absent from this thread?
EPIDURAL
posted by Ardiril at 2:50 AM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, no shit, right?
posted by Ardiril at 2:52 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am wisely and correctly informed by my wife that in addition to a wonderful son, the only other thing she produced in childbirth was a half dozen blueberry muffins.

While my recollection of the event differs slightly, I have learned it is far better for all for me to accept her reality.

Yay, muffins!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:52 AM on August 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


Well, it's reasonable to think that we want the sterile new baby to be quickly colonized by a good mix of gut bacteria from the mother. This may help with digestion, growth, and even auto-immune problems. This may be a helpful mechanism in doing this.

So you're quite possibly helping your child be healthy and strong when you poop all over the place during delivery.
posted by alasdair at 2:59 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


alastair - that's pretty positive thinking, but more likely feces are dangerous to mother and baby (they aren't good gut flora). A lot of women died of childbed infections in the past - I didn't know about the poop, but it's a good chance that many of these were caused by cross-contamination.
posted by jb at 3:23 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


we want the sterile new baby to be quickly colonized

That's one way of putting it.

Oh, wait, I see. Never mind!
posted by ShutterBun at 3:28 AM on August 25, 2011


Seems like it would be easy to avoid this by reducing your food intake before birth and making sure things are 'clean' down there. Of course not every woman is on a predictable schedule.

Ok, there is so much that annoys me about this. Labor is hard work, you need as much energy as you can get for it, and the idea of cutting back on your energy intake beforehand just because of some theoretical poop is ridiculous. Not every woman is on a predictable schedule? Is any woman on a predictable schedule for giving birth?!

I had just finished eating a big dinner when my midwife called to tell me to get to the hospital as soon as possible (pre-eclampsia). It was 3 weeks before my due date, guess I should have started cutting back on my food intake at the beginning of my 9th month of pregnancy!

Also, I was worried about the pooping even before I got pregnant, it wasn't until very late in the pregnancy that I learned about how often women vomit when they're transitioning to pushing. Things can come out both ends!
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 3:53 AM on August 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


Just as an FYI, if you say "poop" in Australian English, you're probably about four years old. It is infantile.

Everybody poops, motherfucker.
posted by ShutterBun at 4:06 AM on August 25, 2011 [11 favorites]


Fathers in the delivery room should all take huge dumps on the floor in solidarity, I say!
posted by orme at 4:30 AM on August 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


Well, it's reasonable to think that we want the sterile new baby to be quickly colonized by a good mix of gut bacteria from the mother.

They will get those bacteria from the vagina, they don't need to come into contact with actual shit.
posted by delmoi at 5:01 AM on August 25, 2011


Is Jezebel that bad? (I'm not that familiar with the site.)

Yes, they really are. They are fucking vile.
posted by elizardbits at 5:15 AM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was not worried about pooping-- it never even crossed my mind. However, 26 years later I can still remember that little act of betrayal by my body. Everything else is a bit hazy: the time line of events, the pain, the number of people standing around me, yet I can still recall this very clearly. Small poo, nurse whisks it away, pats my on the arm and says, "Don't worry, everybody does it." Embarrassment scale: 4 out of 10 (not embarrassed then but a teeny bit embarrassed now.)

Far worse was to come. I went on to have an emergency C-Section. Afterward, as Eyebrows McGee explained above, gas-passing is of extreme interest to the nurse, so that question was asked daily. Days later when no passing had occurred a tube was put in my bottom and the end stuck in a pail of liquid. And we could all enjoy the sight of my gas merrily bubbling up. Please God this will never happen again in my life. Embarrassment scale 8

Second pregnancy, second chance to poop and push, second C-section. Neither of these "Life's Most Embarrassing Moments" occurred. So, ladies, it isn't inevitable.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:16 AM on August 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


It happens. Yet most people never talk about it. Like many of the other non-baby things that come out during childbirth.

As a result, "Placenta Helper" jokes tend to fall flat.
posted by tommasz at 5:22 AM on August 25, 2011


tastycracker: yes...and that is why you take an enema before you give birth! problem solved!

From the first link:

#7 DON’T ask for an enema/accept an enema before or during labor. Please! Given enemas to women in labor is an outdated and unnecessary practice. Birthingnaturally.com writes:

“A substantial portion of women in labor will have bowel movements, whether or not enemas are given,” especially during both early labor and pushing. Available evidence indicates that enemas do not in fact decrease the chances of elimination during birth nor the incidence of fecal contamination during labor, whereas they do often cause considerable pain and distress to the laboring mother.


pH Indicating Socks: Manufacturing an issue to get eyeballs for your blog -- the number one thing, really? -- at the risk of triggering (or creating) body-shame issues in pregnant women.

Wow, that's a bizarrely uncharitable interpretation of what was actually written in that link. She's a labor and delivery nurse; she probably knows a lot more about women's shame in pregnancy than you do. I gather you've got yourself a cause in fighting pregnancy shame, and good for you, but you might want to note that something just completely blinded you to what's actually going on here.
posted by mediareport at 5:42 AM on August 25, 2011


I supported my wife by pooping on the table too.
posted by Silvertree at 6:20 AM on August 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Days later when no passing had occurred a tube was put in my bottom and the end stuck in a pail of liquid. And we could all enjoy the sight of my gas merrily bubbling up.

I can remember being a small kid and getting so dirty with my friends that whomever's mother was nearest would grab all of us and toss us into the bathtub for a group cleaning. We used to delight in seeing who could produce the most fart bubbles. If we had been creative enough to think of using a hose for maximum bubbling, we probably would never have wanted to get out of the bath.
posted by Forktine at 6:35 AM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have a theory that the ninth month of pregnancy is to make you NOT CARE what goes on during labor and/or delivery as long as the baby GETS OUT OF YOU ("SIXTY TWO PEOPLE ARE LOOKING AT MY VAGINA, YOU SAY? SURE, LET SIXTY-THREE GET A PEEK!"

It's true. All these people we had never met before just sort of wandered into the room to take a look, including the lead pediatric doctor who nominally supervised the delivery, and a couple of interns who were "learning".
posted by KokuRyu at 7:12 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


At our childbirth class a couple of months ago, the nurse instructor brought this up. She said, "A lot of women worry about 'having an accident' when pushing. Well, if you don't have an accident, you're doing it wrong."
posted by statolith at 7:16 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Exactly, statolith. I pooped when I was pushing (that damned child with an arm over her giant, giant head) out, and the midwife said "GOOD! you're pushing properly!") and that's all that was mentioned about it. Big fucking deal.
posted by gaspode at 7:22 AM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am reminded of this moment from Scrubs:

J.D.: [internal] I think childbirth has been way too romanticized.

[cut to a 1950s era informational film with JD and the soon-to-be parents]

J.D.: You'll fart, poop, pee, and scream, all in front of ten complete strangers, all of whom are staring intently at your vagina, which, by the way, has an 80 per cent chance of tearing.

Pregnant Wife: [to her husband] You do it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:25 AM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


For the Australians that are wondering, the real infantilized version of it here is "poo." Adults say it all the time.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:31 AM on August 25, 2011


Labor takes forever, it's not necessarily predictable, and avoiding food because you might go into labor and then poop like 3 days after you stopped eating would be ridiculous and probably not even helpful because when you're pregnant, the whole digestion thing gets slow, weird, and squished.

No doubt, the young rope-rider! the jerkoffs who delivered me wouldn't let my mom eat anything but Jell-o for three days while she was in labor (because apparently that hospital was trapped in some kind of weirdo timewarp -- they also wouldn't let her get up and walk around). Finally, c-section. Not like there would have been anything to excrete at that point anyway!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:34 AM on August 25, 2011


Poo is a great word. Hooray for onomatopoeia!
posted by h00py at 7:49 AM on August 25, 2011


*wipes away laughter tears from preview*

There I was, a young (very), uninformed (no pre-natal), fairly naive (abusive religious childhood) and strange little deathrocker... I held up my labor until there was fetal distress because I was mortified I was going to poop. In Front Of All These People! Finally, the (very angry attending a teen, esp a freak) call-in doc pays attention to my begging to use the potty. I explain that I desperately need to poop. With relief, he tells me I would have already - that's the baby needing to be pushed. Didn't take the little monster (8lbs/8oz) long after that.

I wish someone had told me earlier.

I have no idea about the second one. By that time, I was over some issues and wasn't paying attention to something as unimportant as poop.
posted by _paegan_ at 8:15 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, there was a lot of blood. It's possible that the poo was just forgotten amongst all the haemoglobin.

But seriously, if you're pushing as hard as you must in order to get a baby out of your body then it's just to be expected that you're going to push out everything else that's lurking up there. So what? If I could, I'd tell everyone who was worried about doing a shit whilst birthing that the actual birth thing totally overrides everything else.

It's just nothing, seriously.
posted by h00py at 8:39 AM on August 25, 2011


I always assumed that Americans just revert to cutesy-4yo-speak when talking about shit & shitting, out of a sense of social nicety. It never occurred to me even as a remote possibility that "poop" is actually the adult word in common currency.

It's just a more polite way of saying 'shit' in the U.S. "Shit" is one of Carlin's Seven Dirty Words you can't say on TV. But poop isn't.


Sort of like how in the UK 'cunt' means 'disagreeable jerk', but in the US, it means 'REALLY disagreeable jerk'.
posted by FatherDagon at 8:39 AM on August 25, 2011


I was told by a labor nurse that it happens so often, it's downright expected. They know to wipe it away before anyone even spots it.

I was surprised when, while pushing, the nurse leaned over and whispered discreetly in my ear in a manner I truly hope she thought was humorous, "Now no one can say you are full of shit."

I was dismayed, because I thought that was tacky and odd to point out that I was pooping when I was in the middle of "ohmygod babyshoulders don't fold" levels of pain. But mostly, I was trying to not die.
posted by Ink-stained wretch at 8:45 AM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Poo is a great word. Hooray for onomatopoeia!

I...uh...your shit sounds like "poo"?
posted by Hoopo at 8:47 AM on August 25, 2011


Minus the farts, yes.
posted by h00py at 8:58 AM on August 25, 2011


I don't know about the rest of the US, but "poo" is less infantile, more polite in mixed age groups than "poop" here in the desert South West. "Poo-poo" is what is said to babies (and pets), transitioning to "poop" during the toddler/young child ages, "poo" is what an adult says when the words "feces", "dung", "excrement", "crap", and "shit" are inappropriate to the situation. Adding the plural "s" is allowed to emphasize the cute, but each root word generally stays in the same age range.

"Excuse me, kind elderly neighbor, but I think your little Muffins left some poo's in my yard."

Always got a giggle about "Winnie the Pooh" when I was little.
posted by _paegan_ at 9:11 AM on August 25, 2011


I was told by a labor nurse that it happens so often, it's downright expected. They know to wipe it away before anyone even spots it.

Some time after my second son was born--a few hours or days, I don't remember--I was thinking about my labor and delivery, and sort of flashed on this moment when one of the nurses had, without comment, done something very cheerful and quick and efficient down there, and thought, "Huh. I wonder if I had pooped a little?" Or a lot, it occurs to me now.
posted by not that girl at 9:16 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


yeah, the idea of not eating before childbirth is. . . man. It's like not eating for 24 hours before running a marathon. I ate a pulled pork sandwich literally an hour and a half before my son was born, and afterwards I was so starving that I ate half of a casserole the neighbors had sent over. Why on earth would you think it's a good idea to make sure your system is completely devoid of food when you embark on some of the hardest work of your life?
posted by KathrynT at 9:21 AM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think we have to ask ourselves if such a discussion is appropriate. What if some foetus happens to read it? Won't someone think of the foetuses?
posted by Goofyy at 9:29 AM on August 25, 2011


jb: but more likely feces are dangerous to mother and baby (they aren't good gut flora)

"At birth, there are no bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. During birth, however, bacteria from the mother's colon and vagina are swallowed by the infant, and, within a few weeks or months, they populate the infant's gastrointestinal tract. "

Looks like a little poop at birth is no problem for the little 'uns.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 9:34 AM on August 25, 2011


Except the little 'uns who get sepsis. That's not due to the presence or absence of poop, though, as much as it is due Group B Strep (and other little germs that are harder to get rid of).

There's a lot of good work being done on preventing perinatal sepsis.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:50 AM on August 25, 2011


I ate a pulled pork sandwich literally an hour and a half before my son was born, and afterwards I was so starving that I ate half of a casserole the neighbors had sent over.

My doctor ordered me a "light breakfast" but they sent up pancakes and bacon, and I mowed through it. A few hours later, I had the baby, and shortly thereafter, ate a big cheeseburger. Then they moved me to another room, and the friend who was with me said to my new nurse as we got settled, "And she'll need dinner sent up," so they ordered me another dinner, and I ate that too.

I have just finally read the essay, and boy it's not even an essay, is it? It's just a bunch of badly-written sentences tossed together semi-coherently. It inspires me to write my own essay on pooping during childbirth, which would be 100x better than this one.

And, yes, the thing about losing weight Oh ha ha nice one jezebel writer what a great feminist you are.
posted by not that girl at 9:54 AM on August 25, 2011


I rather fondly remember (vaguely through my pain-addled near hysteria) pooping during delivery. It's nowhere near as bad as the terror you feel when you poop for the first time after vaginal birth. Will the stitches hold? Will I split in two? Aggghhh!
posted by Go Banana at 9:56 AM on August 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


I honestly couldn't tell you whether I shat or not. If I did, I don't remember it and neither my Mum nor my fiance at the time have ever mentioned it.

I've seen quite a few live and videotaped births and the nurses/midwives are really quick and sly about wiping it away. Once I found out that pooping during labor was a common experience, I started looking for it in birthing videos and most of the time you (the spectator) can't even tell.

TL;DR - midwives are poo ninjas
posted by Mrs.Spiffy at 9:59 AM on August 25, 2011 [14 favorites]


It's nowhere near as bad as the terror you feel when you poop for the first time after vaginal birth.

I had a notable hemorrhoid after my second delivery, and I decided that the best way to deal with that was just to not poop until it was healed. MEMO TO OTHERS: THIS IS A BAD IDEA.

The constipation that ensued was agonizing. And the worse it got, the more scared I got; I actually had to use my labor self-hypnosis in order to finally be able to resolve the situation. At one point I wished there was such a thing as a pooping doula.
posted by KathrynT at 10:02 AM on August 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


In fact, you should worry about your baby if you don't do this.

Cue study of irritable bowel and C-sections.
posted by jamjam at 10:18 AM on August 25, 2011


I explain that I desperately need to poop. With relief, he tells me I would have already - that's the baby needing to be pushed.

Yeah, I wasn't worried about pooping during the birth at all. What no one had told me (first time mom, unmedicated vaginal birth) was that, at a certain stage, it feels exactly as though that baby head is going to come straight out your rectum. That really scared me until I could explain it to the midwife.....

SIXTY TWO PEOPLE ARE LOOKING AT MY VAGINA, YOU SAY? SURE, LET SIXTY-THREE GET A PEEK!" "YOU HAVE TO CUT ME IN HALF AND SHOW THE WORLD MY INTESTINES TO GET A STUCK BABY LOOSE? WHATEVER, SOUNDS FUN!

This is the reason we went to a free-standing birth center. Total of six people in the entire building: me, my husband, our baby, my midwife, her assistant, and a student midwife. Much less public and stressful.
posted by anastasiav at 10:26 AM on August 25, 2011


Why not just crop it out if she does poop?
Crop it out? This is an opportunity to ADD. When you edit the video, over the put set up a layer of rainbows or cotton candy or an endless stream or Ann Coulter heads. The possibilities are limitless.

By the way - dignity is an artifice. It's nice to have or think that you have it, but quite honestly there are few places like hospitals and few events like childbirth that remind you that your belief that you have any dignity all is total fiction. If you assume that's the case, any shame you might have as a result of your loss of your fictional dignity is likely to dissolve.

(I've spent too much time in hospitals, trust me)

As to why parents talk about poo? Like the book says, "Everyone Poops" and since babies haven't had the time to develop the belief that they have dignity or shame, every parent has a litany of poo stories, many horrific, many hilarious, sometimes both.
posted by plinth at 12:02 PM on August 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Childbirth can be a horribly demeaning process for women, particularly those who don't have a lot of options for how and where they'll do it. It's been a very long time since I was pregnant myself, but I distinctly remember being baby talked and treated alternately like a child and an inconvenience.

So the fact that a lot of women worry about this as their due date approaches might seem silly on its face, but the whole process is scary, especially when you feel as though you're being patronized and probably kept in the dark about what to expect. So hooray for the internet. Hooray for people who are reading their server logs and addressing the questions women are asking, rather than being dismissive brushing it off based on some determination that it's silly, or that they're better off not knowing.

Oh, and Nth on Jezebel sucking. They've made great strides since their early days, when it was pretty much all body shaming and rape apologetics, but it is still awful, particularly for a site that some people seem to associate so strongly with feminism. It is so nice to see that I'm not the only one who has problems with it.
posted by ernielundquist at 1:49 PM on August 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


Most of the time you can't tell...unless you do it while kneeling upright on the bed facing the wall, so everyone's eyes are glued to your arse. Not embarrassed, but I definitely remember that moment well.
posted by tracicle at 3:46 PM on August 25, 2011


Embarrassed about pooping, indeed. I have spent the last 5 days in the hospital with the man I love who is pooping bright red blood to the point of nearly passing out from shock, and who has needed 6 units of blood in order to keep his red cell level up to something able to sustain life. He has pooped in the ER, in the bed, in the telemetery unit, the step down unit, the ICU, and two regular wards. In the bathroom, in the bedpan, and oh my God , yes, in the bed. But fuck it all, he won't bleed in the colonoscopy room, the nuclear med radiology room, the angiogram room or anyplace else where they might find a source for the bleeding or be able to stop the little fucker permanently.

Dignity is for the calm days, for the nice visitors, for our elderly parents. In childbirth, in crisis, in desperate helplessness, nobody cares who sees the poop. And a nurse who can help a person feel dignified and respected through all this is a ruby without price.
posted by SLC Mom at 12:50 AM on August 26, 2011 [13 favorites]


I shouldn't say anything more, having wished this post into the cornfield, but I can't help it. SLC Mom's comment made my cry, and now I know why.

Caring for someone you love, in their "desperate helplessness", is at once horrible, and really the most pure feeling of love we ever get to experience. No one would actually want the ones they love to suffer so that they could be helpful -- yeah there's a name for that -- but being able to be there, to help, if someone you love *is* suffering, instead of, say, across the country, or unaware, or just mired in your own life, is a tremendous gift. We are so fragile, for all our airs. It seems like a husband, or any non-sociopathic human with business in a delivery room, who saw poop during childbirth, would feel only this.

I wish, how I wish, I were cleaning up my mother's cancer-poop right now.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 2:13 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anne Lamott describes how this happened when she gave birth in Operating Instructions.

My mother told me she had a bout of diarrhea shortly after her water broke when she had me,which apparently cleared everything out....and she's the sort who would have told me (when I was still speaking to her)if she had soiled herself during labor.
posted by brujita at 3:33 AM on August 27, 2011


« Older As Wikipedia expanded to lesser known languages it...  |  Buried in the last paragraph o... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments