Why it's likely you'll poop during labour and why you shouldn't worry.

birth education Jul 18, 2023

It's true that during the process of labour, it's common for some women to have a bowel movement or pass a stool. While it may initially sound embarrassing or concerning, it's actually a normal and natural occurrence during childbirth. Here's why it's likely to happen, what healthcare providers do about it, and why there's no need to worry.

Physiology of labour

The muscles used for pushing during labour are the same muscles involved in bowel movements. The pressure exerted on the rectum during pushing can stimulate the bowels, leading to the release of a stool. Additionally, hormonal changes and the relaxation of muscles in the pelvic area can contribute to this occurrence.

Healthcare provider's response

Healthcare professionals attending to you during labour are well aware that it's common for women to have a bowel movement during childbirth. They are trained to handle such situations with discretion and professionalism. They will quickly and discreetly clean the area, ensuring a clean and hygienic environment. You and your birth companion probably won't even know that you've pooped.

Focus on the baby

During labour, the primary focus of healthcare providers is on the well-being of both you and your baby. The presence of a stool is considered a normal part of the process, and it doesn't negatively impact the care provided or the health of your baby.

Regular cleaning and hygiene practices

Healthcare providers take appropriate measures to maintain a clean and sterile environment during labour and birth. They use protective coverings, such as pads or absorbent sheets, which can be easily replaced if necessary. They are experienced in managing bodily fluids and waste and will ensure your comfort and privacy throughout the process.

It's a sign of effective pushing.

Passing a stool during labour can actually be seen as a positive sign. It often indicates that you're pushing effectively and using the right muscles to help your baby descend through the birth canal. It means you're actively engaged in the birthing process.

Focus on the bigger picture.

Remember that during labour, the primary goal is to bring your baby into the world safely. Healthcare providers are accustomed to the various bodily functions that occur during childbirth, and their focus is on ensuring a healthy delivery for both you and your baby.


Ultimately, passing a stool during labour is a normal part of the birthing process, and healthcare professionals are prepared to handle it in a respectful and discreet manner. Your healthcare team is there to support you, prioritize your comfort and safety, and help you bring your baby into the world. So, try not to worry or feel embarrassed if it happens—it's just another aspect of the beautiful journey of childbirth.

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