Pooping While Giving Birth - Reasons & How to Prevent It?

Pooping While Giving Birth – Reasons & How to Prevent It?

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Rima Sonpal (Gynecologist/Obstetrician)
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Yes, we know how weird and awkward it may sound. Putting your body through hours of pain and effort to get the baby out of your body is one thing. But if childbirth is accompanied by poop, the feelings of warmth and happiness are ruined, and the process seems like the most disgusting, embarrassing, and harrowing experience. However, pooping during early labour is nothing unusual, and many women wonder how to deal with it. During labour, the muscles pushing the baby out can also pressure the rectum, causing stool to be expelled. While it may feel embarrassing, doctors are used to it and will quickly clean it up. Ultimately, the goal is to have a healthy baby, and pooping during labour is just a small part of the process.

Can a Pregnant Woman Poop While Giving Birth?

Let’s face it – giving birth is a messy business, including pooping. But here’s the thing – pooping during childbirth is a sign that things are moving along swimmingly. Think of it as a little victory dance for your bowels!

Sure, it might not be the most glamorous moment of your life, but who cares? You’re bringing a new human being into the world, which is something to celebrate. So what if you accidentally drop a little something extra? Your healthcare providers have seen it all before, and they’re not judging you. It’s a sign that the baby is on its way and that everything is progressing. So, let it remind you that you’re a badass warrior bringing new life into the world.

Is It Normal to Poop During Labour?

Yes, pooping during labour is completely normal. You use the same bowel muscles when pushing that little bundle of joy out of your lady parts. And all that pushing can put a lot of pressure on your bowels. That’s why letting a little something slip out accidentally is not uncommon.

But here’s the good news; pooping during labour is a sign that you’re doing things right! It means that you’re pushing with all your might and that your body is working hard to get that baby out. So, if you accidentally poop on the delivery table, remember you’re a rockstar! After all the strange bodily fluids and weird positions you’ve been in during labour, a little poop is no big deal. It’s a completely normal and natural part of the labour process. 

Why Do Some Women Poop While Giving Birth?

You might be wondering if it is normal to poop during childbirth. During delivery, the entire lower section of your body pushes out the baby, activating the same group of muscles responsible for pushing poop from your butt. Furthermore, being pregnant means the presence of the baby puts a lot of pressure on the region. The pressure increases when the delivery is underway, and the baby moves through the birth canal. At this juncture, the pressure on the colon and rectum is immense, which can facilitate pooping.

At the time of delivery, your body starts producing a hormone called prostaglandins. These hormones stimulate bowel movements in your body, along with inducing labour. The body understands that it needs to push things out, be it the baby or poop.

How Frequently Does It Happen?

It’s a fact of life – when you give birth, there’s a chance you might poop on the delivery table. While it’s not the most glamorous aspect of childbirth, it’s a normal and natural occurrence. But just how often does it happen?

While there’s no exact answer, studies have shown it’s common. One study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that up to 88% of women will pass stool during labour. Another study published in the Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine found that 46% of women admitted to pooping during delivery.

Benefits of Pooping During Labour

You may not be aware of some lesser-known benefits of this occurrence. Here are a few reasons why pooping during labour is a good thing:

  • It’s a sign that you’re pushing effectively: When you’re pushing with all your might, the muscles in your rectum are also working hard. If you’re pooping, you’re using those muscles effectively and pushing in the right way to help your baby move down the birth canal.
  • It helps to clear out the way: Pooping during labour can help clear the way for your baby. When the stool is passed, it helps to move the faecal matter out of the way so the baby can move through the birth canal more easily.
  • It’s a natural part of the process: Pooping during labour is completely normal and natural. The medical team assisting in delivery is well-prepared for it, and it doesn’t faze them. So if you poop during labour, just remember that it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
  • It can reduce the risk of tearing: When the rectum is empty, it can reduce the risk of tearing during delivery. This is because there’s less pressure on the perineum, the area between the vagina and the anus.

Can Epidurals Increase Your Chance of Pooping?

Many women believe that the absence of pain during childbirth may make your body think you are trying to pass out poop instead of pushing out your baby. Therefore, epidurals might increase the chances of pooping.

But that’s not how it works. Epidural or not, your body knows that a baby’s delivery is on the way, and nothing will stop it. What the epidural will do is numb the sensation of the bowel movement. So, you might poop due to pushing your baby, and you wouldn’t even realise that you did.

How Do You Know That You Have Pooped?

Regarding pooping during labour, it can be hard to tell what’s happening there. But don’t worry; your body will give you some signs that it’s happening. You may feel a sensation of pressure in your rectum or a feeling of fullness in your bowels. You may also hear a “plop” or see stool evidence on the delivery table. And while it may feel embarrassing, remember that it’s completely normal and nothing to be ashamed of. Your OB-GYN team is there to help you through the entire process, including any messy moments that may occur.

When to Worry About Poop During Labour?

Pooping during labour is a common and normal occurrence, but it can still be a source of anxiety or embarrassment for many women. However, understanding the facts and concerns of pooping during labour can help ease the anxiety and make the experience more comfortable. Here are two situations in which you should be worried and immediately contact your doctor:

1. If There’s Blood in the Stool

While it’s normal to pass stool during labour, if there’s blood in the stool, it could be a sign of a more serious problem. Blood in the stool could indicate a tear in the rectum or another area of the gastrointestinal tract, and it’s important to alert your doctor immediately if this occurs.

2. If You’re Experiencing Severe Pain or Discomfort

While some pressure or discomfort in the rectal area is to be expected during labour, if you’re experiencing severe pain or discomfort, it could be a sign of a more serious issue. This could include a tear or injury to the perineum or rectum, and it’s important to let your nurse know immediately if you’re experiencing any significant pain or discomfort.

How to Prevent Pooping During Labour?

Envisioning the scene of pooping while delivering the baby, many women want to know how to avoid pooping while giving birth and retain the beauty of childbirth in a memorable way. Well, there are certain measures you can take to prevent your body from pooping during delivery.

1. Get an Enema While You Can

The best way to avoid pooping is to not have any poop inside your body in the first place. When your contractions begin, and you reach the clinic, if your doctors say that your labour is still in the early stages, you can request them to help you with an enema, especially if your bowels are full. Clearing up your bowels will make you more relaxed and can fully concentrate on delivering your baby. The enema should be performed by trained professionals and under guided supervision.

2. Don’t Hold Back if You Want to Poop

Just as labour tends to set in when the time is right, pooping usually happens the same way, pregnant or not. In case your contractions have begun, and you do feel the need to poop, don’t avoid it or try to stop it with the rationalisation that you can get it done once the baby is delivered. If you are still in the early stages of labour, your baby can wait for some time. Go to the toilet and empty your bowels. The mental calm of cleansing your intestines can facilitate proper labour.

Don’t Hold Back if You Want to Poop

3. Opting for Suppository Medication

At times, you may not be ready for an enema, and you may also be suffering from constipation. This puts you in a situation where you want to poop but cannot. Suppositories work wonders in such cases. These preparations are inserted in the anus, which dissolves and cause bowel movement to occur. Constipation disappears within half an hour to an hour after taking the suppository, and you can directly head to take care of the business. A doctor’s recommendation is required in such a case, and the doctor may recommend a glycerin suppository to relieve constipation.

4. Do Not Eat During Labour

Labour is extremely exhausting and taxing and can make you hungry, especially if it is extended labour. This does not mean that you should eat anything you lay your eyes on. The safest food items during labour are light, especially in liquid form. Soups and smoothies or nutrition bars are suitable to be had. Avoid having a heavy meal full of meats and fats while in labour since it would be difficult to digest and cause heartburn.

5. Maintain a Proper Diet to Avoid Constipation During Delivery

Pooping is a natural activity, and there is no stopping it. But the process can be eased and be made timely so it does not interfere with childbirth. This entails taking care of it right from the time you get pregnant. Make sure your diet has enough fibrous food items. A balanced diet helps build up the bowel movement necessary for pooping and reduces the chances of constipation. It can help you during labour since you can quickly go and take a dump if you feel like it and not be plagued by constipation-related issues.

What Should You Do If You Are Feeling Nervous About Pooping During Childbirth?

It’s completely normal to feel nervous or anxious about pooping during childbirth. However, it’s important to remember that it’s a natural part of the process, and your medical team is well-prepared for it. Here are some tips to help ease your nerves:

  • Talk to your gynaecologist: Talk to your doctor if you feel particularly anxious about pooping during labour. They can answer any questions you may have and offer reassurance and guidance.
  • Practice relaxation techniques: Practicing relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation, can help calm your nerves and reduce anxiety during labour.
  • Focus on the bigger picture: Remember that pooping during labour is just one small part of childbirth. Focus on the bigger picture of bringing your baby into the world and the joy that will come with it.
  • Trust your body: It is designed to give birth and knows what it’s doing. Trust in the process and have faith in your body’s ability to bring your baby into the world.


1. Should You Try to Prevent Poop During Labour?

While it’s natural to feel embarrassed or uncomfortable about pooping during labour, trying to prevent it is unnecessary. Pooping during labour is common and normal, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Some studies have shown that allowing women to eat and drink during labour can help facilitate bowel movements and reduce the risk of constipation or faecal impaction.

2. How Many Women Poop While Giving Birth?

It’s estimated that 30-50% of women will poop during labour. While it can be an embarrassing or uncomfortable experience, it’s a normal and natural part of childbirth. Remember, pooping during labour is a sign that your body is doing exactly what it needs to do to bring your baby into the world.

Knowing how to avoid pooping while giving birth can ensure your childbirth stays poop-free. Despite that, if pooping does occur, there is no reason to worry or feel embarrassed. The doctors and nurses are focused on ensuring the baby is safe and are well aware of such instances. So, it is in your best interest to ensure your baby is delivered safely and happily, and poop can make its way out by itself, should it choose to.


1. Reveiz. L, Gaitan. HG, Cuervo. LG, et al.; Enemas during labour; PubMed Central; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7032672/; July 2013 

2. Newlin. E; What To Know About Pooping After Giving Birth; Cleveland Clinic; https://health.clevelandclinic.org/postpartum-poop/; July 2022

3. Wick. M; Is it safe to take stool softeners to treat pregnancy constipation?; Mayo Clinic; https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/expert-answers/pregnancy-constipation/faq-20058550; May 2022

4. Terreri. C; Top 10 Childbirth Fears (A Series): Will I Really Poop During Birth?; Lamaze International; https://www.lamaze.org/Giving-Birth-with-Confidence/GBWC-Post/top-10-childbirth-fears-a-series-will-i-really-poop-during-birth; November 2015

5. The Poo Taboo; https://www.sarawickham.com/articles-2/the-poo-taboo/; December 2019

Also read:

Tips for Easy Labor and Delivery
Common Interventions during Childbirth
Unexpected Things That Happen during Labour

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