The romanticization that surrounds normal childbirth leads many women to go through situations in which they feel embarrassed because the subject is still seen as taboo. A good example of this is the poop during laborwhich can make the parturient feel ashamed at the moment of the act, but is celebrated by the medical team for showing that the baby’s birth is approaching.
“The rectum, which is the final portion of our intestine and stores feces, is immediately behind the vagina. So, as the baby moves down the birth canal, he squeezes it. If there is waste in the place, it ends up coming out and it is even expected that this will happen”, explains Luciana Delamuta, gynecologist and obstetrician. It’s just worth remembering that, as common as it is, it’s not something that will happen to all women. Every organism is unique, remember?
How to clean the feces
As it is a physiological process expected by the medical team, there is the separation of specific materials to collect the stools during labor. Andréia Fratoni Ledo, nursing coordinator at the Obstetric Center of the Hospital e Maternidade Santa Joana, cites the use of sterile compresses to collect waste and also clean the woman.
The doula Samara Barth (@samdoula) also explains that, inside the delivery rooms, there are containers placed below the parturient to collect the feces and discard them. In the case of births that take place in water, instruments similar to homemade sieves are used, “fishing” the poop, without letting it spread.
Is it recommended to do a bowel wash?
And if previously it was indicated that the pregnant woman should go through intestinal lavage before delivery, the current scenario is different. “Over time, this procedure has been reviewed by health professionals and bodies, and it has been evaluated that does not bring any benefit to mother and baby“, explains Andrea.
In addition to being an invasive technique that can cause intestinal cramps during the birth of the little one, it tends to make it difficult to clean the feces that will come out. “Washing does not eliminate the chances of having a bowel movement. In fact, it’s even worse, because the ones that would be solid and very punctual, become watery, with the appearance of diarrhea, making more dirt”, completes Samara.
We also need to be realistic about the amount of waste to be expelled. During labor, the parturient has the autonomy to go to the bathroom when she feels like having a bowel movement and doing all her needs, as the doula explains. This means that, before the baby is born, the amount of feces to be eliminated is small.
Is the baby’s contact with feces dangerous?
Luciana points out that, during labor, the tendency is that most of the feces have already been eliminated, the team has done the external hygiene of the mother and the little one is born freely. But the curious part is that, because the vagina is close to the anus, this has a positive impact on the development of the newborn.
“It is a region that has several bacteria that will help to compose the bacterial flora of the baby, mainly in the intestine. Therefore, the newborn is expected to go through it”, explains the obstetrician. Then, training is complemented by breast milk offered to the little one over the months.
This is even what a 2020 study points out, published in the scientific journal Cell, in which researchers from the University of Helsinki, in Finland, proved that the microorganisms present in the mother’s feces help in the development of the baby’s immunity. What’s more, they suggest that babies born by cesarean section could benefit from maternal fecal contact.
As it does not bring any harm – both for the mother and the child – and is nothing more than a physiological response of the organism, Samara guides mothers to do not try to contract the anal muscles to prevent the passage of feces. “This makes the process of expulsive period more painful and slower,” reports the doula.
So, to try to alleviate the possible embarrassment felt in labor when pooping, remember that it only happens because the baby has descended, fitted and is about to arrive in the world. So yes, he is a good sign!