Last week I did a straw poll on our Facebook page and asked what the most common fears around birth area. They were pain, tearing/episiotomy, poo, loss of control, intervention and something happening to the baby.
Each day this week I’m going to reframe some of those fears, put them into perspective, give you some tips and techniques to help manage those fears and give you a hypnosis affirmation to counteract that fear.
Pooing during labour
by Sophie Fletcher, Author of ‘Mindful Hypnobirthing’. clinical hypnotherapist and doula. Sophie is a Fellow of the NCH and a specialist in pregnancy and birth.
The first one I’m going to tackle is pooing during labour, simply because it intrigues me as a hypnotherapist; it has so much to do with how we are conditioned culturally.
A few years ago an accomplished woman came on one of my classes. She’d spoken to me about many fears, except for this one, and had embraced the techniques I taught really making them her own.
Yet, she had been too embarrassed to even talk about her fear of pooing. After her baby was born she came to another class to talk to the class about her experience. She gave her birth story, which was wonderful, and just as I thought she’d finished, she leant forward and looked everyone in the eye then said “and you know what, the pooing thing, I was so frightened about it, so embarrassed about it that I obsessed about it, but when it came to the birth I didn’t even notice, it was so insignificant in the amazing intensity of it all. It doesn’t matter.” In the room there was an audible sigh of relief, maybe a giggle or two and uncomfortable shuffle, but for her to even bring it up was incredible, as it showed she’d overcome a much deeper fear through her experience of birth.
Pooing during labour is a normal function and a positive sign.
It seems poo is a dirty word when it comes to birth. If it’s your fear you’re not alone, thousands of women are worried and embarrassed about pooing during labour in front of the midwife or doctor. However, you may be surprised to know that if and when this happens, it’s a great external sign that your baby is very nearly here. It means that labour is progressing well.
This is because as your baby is moving down through the birth canal the head puts pressure on the recturm as the two are parallel, almost flattening it out, so anything that is left in the rectum is squeezed out. A bit like a squeezing out a bit of toothpaste from an almost empty tube. It’s usually a very very small amount as most women have loose bowels just before labour starts, the human body is clever, very clever and prepares itself for birth.
The midwife will be delighted and reassured if there’s a bit of poo, as she knows that the head is moving down. She’ll have whisked it away before you or your partner even notices it. Midwives are very aware of this anxiety, and used to it, it’s part of their job and they do it every day. They are also very sensitive, I’ve never heard a midwife tell a mother when it’s happened. In fact, there are plenty of other jobs that I bet you can think of where someone has to do something that you could never imagine doing, but which is second nature to the person doing the job.
At this point in labour you’ll be deeply within yourself, your contractions will be coming very regularly; your thoughts will be on your baby, and the fact that you are very shortly going to holding your baby in your arms.
Birth is messy and primal, there is no way of avoiding that, we have to let go of a lot of our culturally defined sensibilities. Our anxiety of pooing during labour is a conditioned response, we are trained not to do it in front of other people and sometimes made to feel ashamed of it from a very young age.
Women need to feel private and safe, they need to trust and feel familiar with their midwife. They need to know what they are doing is ok.
With that in mind, I’m saying to you, it’s ok to poo during labour; visualise that tube of toothpaste, or your baby’s head moving down, focus on that, trust your midwife’s skill, experience and sensitivity. Make sure you feel secure and private, allow yourself to understand why it is happening, and that when and if it happens it’s a positive sign that your baby is well on their way.
Affirmations to think positively about poo!
If this is your fear, say these affirmations every day, at first say them in your head if that’s easier. As you feel more comfortable saying them, begin to say them out loud to yourself . Then as they are easier to say, and you get used to them, read them out to your partner or even to a willing friend. If you laugh that’s fine, you are introducing a different and positive emotion into the mix which is all part of the process. Your partner can also reassure you on the day, by learning that if it happens it means your baby is nearly there, this is called reframing and is simply turning a ‘glass half empty thought’, into a ‘glass half full ‘ thought.
- As my body gently opens up, my baby moves down
- As my baby moves down the closer my baby is to being born
- The closer my baby is to being born the easier it is for my body to let go
- As my body lets go, there may be signs that my baby is moving down
- I feel comfortable with birth and with the normal functions of my body
- If I poo I feel reassured and comforted that my body is doing exactly the right thing
- And as my body does exactly the right thing I relax and let go creating more space for my baby to move down into my arms