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The Big STINK… "pooping while pushing"

Posted on September 18th, 2013 by | 19 views

Guest post authored by Laura Schmalfeldt, labor & birth doula at Embracing Labor.

That's right, I'm sitting in my big comfy bed, while my beautiful children nap, researching and writing about poop. This is my life. 

I am currently in the beginning stages of potty training my little boy. (insert sigh here) And, being the beginning, there happen to be some "accidents." Well, today I heard a little voice say to me, "Mama! I going poop. " So I ran to find him. And then I saw it, a nice big turd right in the middle of his room. 

 It made me think about how different it was potty training my daughter. She had been scared to poop. She would hold it in for days and days and then I would have to coach her through how to push. I would tell her to listen and feel her body, tell her to push down in her bottom, that the hurt would only last for a moment and then she would feel better. 

 It is such a stark contrast from how my son handles this issue. He doesn't hold back from the pressure or feel embarrassed about having to poop. He just pushes it out when he feels the urge.

 Now, what does this have to do with birth? A lot more than you think. I have met many and heard of many more pregnant mamas that have the fear of "pooping while pushing." Even though I am a doula and I have seen this and other things so many times now that it doesn't bother me at all… I really do understand the fear. The embarrassment that you might feel, and the worry of the odor. I get it. I really get it.

 But now for my little pep talk. It goes almost the same as my daughter's did. When you are beginning to push your baby into the world, and suddenly feel like you might poop… KEEP PUSHING. It is the exact same feel of pushing that it takes to get your baby down and out. (especially if you have an epidural) Your doula, nurse, doctor, or midwife may even tell you to bear down into your bottom and push just like you would if you were going to the bathroom. It needs to happen sometimes. 

 I have seen moms struggle for hours of pushing, not really having much strength behind their pushes. And when I took a moment to talk with them and ask them what they were thinking, I found out that they were holding back a bit because they felt like they might poop. 

 "Thats ok," I would say, "poop… thats the way I need you to push right now."

  Some have struggled with long pushing stages because of this, and some have even ended in C/Section because they just were to scared to push all the way through.  I never want to see this happen. I know it sounds like a small thing and kinda silly, but think like you would to a toddler girl who is scared to poop:

 You know she needs to; it will feel so much better when she does; sure it will smell but you wont make fun of her for it. 

 This is how we feel about our pregnant Mamas. We wont react the way you think we will… I PROMISE!

 A couple things you can do to help ease the fear if you have it:

 1. Bring some essential oils and sprays with you to your birth. Wave a cotton wad with lavender or spray some sweet smelling aroma into the air a few times while you are pushing. It will not only cover up any odor from "possible poop", but it will make you feel refreshed and peaceful during your birth as well.

 2. Maybe specifically ask your husband, partner, nurse and doula, to not tell you if you do end up "pooping while pushing." Most times the Dad's never notice and the nurses wipe it away discreetly. No one ever really knows. Ignorance is sometimes bliss.

 3. If you do plan to get an epidural, try to wait until 5-6 cm. This way you are still able to get up and go to the bathroom on your own. Your body will naturally begin to clear itself out making way for your baby. Then you have a better chance of being "empty" when it is time to push again.

 So ladies, just as my son was unashamed of his accomplishment this morning… be encouraged to feel unashamed of yours. The good news…?

 The end result is not a turd in the middle of a room. But a sweet smelling little baby that you brought into the world. I say that's worth a little poop

 ** Laura Schmalfeldt is a San Diego mother and doula. For more information about her visit

* * Embracing Labor is a team of San Diego labor support offering Birth & Postpartum Doulas, Childbirth Education, Lactation Counceling, Placenta Incapsulation and Prenatal Massage. Visit to learn more, receive free education and a complimentary consultation.

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