By Joni Edelman, RN
I was so worried about pooping during the delivery of my second child that I got my giant pregnant butt down on my absurdly narrow bathroom floor and gave myself an enema. That happened. Here’s me, absolutely giant, unable to even wipe my own behind, on the floor doing an enema reach-around. FOR WHAT? Because I didn’t want to poop? I wish someone had told me that poop was of no consequence in the delivery room. It would have said me the cost of an enema and bruises on my knees.
It doesn’t matter if you’re having your first baby or your fifth, the unknowns of going into labor can always be a little daunting. You’re not just worrying about the baby and the birth itself, you’re worrying about what people think, what gross things might happen if you have bad breath. I can’t be in your delivery room to remind you it doesn’t matter, but I can tell you some things that might make it easier on you.
1. Worry about pooping.
Everybody poops (everybody also pees). I don’t mean everybody in labor — obviously not everyone poops — but a lot of poop happens. Why? Because A. Your baby has to smoosh your colon to get out and B. You literally use the same muscles to poop as to get the baby out. If there is anything in there, it’s coming out.
Sometimes your labor starts off with diarrhea so by the time it’s baby time, the poop is all out. But sometimes it doesn’t. And you poop. Sometimes you poop a LOT. Sometimes it gets on you and the nurse and the doctor and the floor. Sometimes it’s enough poop to fill a vomit basin three times.
I’m not telling you this to gross you out, I’m just saying: YOUR NURSE HAS SEEN SO MUCH POOP. We have seen so much poop that poop doesn’t even phase us anymore. I swear, you can poop right in my hands and I won’t even flinch.
K? Stop worrying about it.
2. Shave your nethers.
If bald suits you, cool, go for it. BUT, listen to me: no nurse cares about your pubic hair. If your (PROBABLY MALE) doctor cares about your pubic hair, screw him. No, but for real. BYE. Your vulva. Your business.
In five years of being on a labor and delivery unit, pubic hair mattered ONCE. ONE TIME out of thousands. And only because it was several inches long and in the way of some suturing. I cut it with some scissors down to an inch. The end.
Your pubic hair is meant to be there as a cushion for your parts. And let me tell you something else you don’t want after you’ve had a baby: ITCHY LABIA. There is enough going on down there without adding ingrown hairs and itchy re-growth.
3. Think you’re a bitch because you have preferences.
May I remind you that your doctor works FOR YOU, not the other way around. You hired them. You pay the bill. You get to ask for things. You get to say no to things. You are absolutely entitled to make demands. If your doctor has a medical reason for objecting to your demands, they can explain it to you. If you still don’t want to engage in whatever thing, you can say NO.
You can always say NO.
Examples of things you can say no to:
This doesn’t necessarily improve outcomes. Periodic monitoring (a couple of minutes every half hour or so) is plenty.
You do not have to submit to an induction.
A C-section that the physician can’t justify.
I know this may come as a shock, but lots of C-sections are not at all necessary. (It’s also fine to ask about having a C-section if you’re all done being in labor for two days.)
A heplock (an IV that is in but not running) is fine.
Here’s a tip: IT DOESN’T MATTER. Unless you’ve been in labor for a really long time with no real progress, your dilation is irrelevant.
4. Worry about being noisy.
The best and easiest deliveries are sometimes the loudest. Because here’s the thing: you gotta do what you gotta do. You gotta moo like a cow? FINE. Do you need to make high-pitched squeals like a dolphin? GO AHEAD. Do you need to tell your partner that they are worthless? Who can blame you? (But also apologize later for that one, preferably when neither of you are birthing Actual Human Life from a very small opening in your body.)
Here’s one thing I will tell you: screaming when you are pushing doesn’t really help, but sometimes you can’t avoid it. Because it HURTS. A LOT. So scream if you have to. But if you can take my little Jiminy Cricket voice with you, it’s saying, “put that energy into getting the baby out.”
5. Let anyone even MENTION a husband stitch.
One time I had a father say to the OB “HEY HOW ABOUT AN EXTRA STITCH FOR ME!” He was wearing a huge silver belt buckle that pointed to his penis and said Blow Here, just so you know what we’re dealing with. His wife looked embarrassed until I told him if he was worried about it he could get a penis enlargement.
Because that makes just about as much sense. Your vagina is meant to birth babies. It is literally constructed in a way that allows it to stretch remarkably and return to mostly normal. Will it be exactly the same after several pounds of human being passes through it? Probably not. But also will your life be the same? If your male partner has a problem with your vagina, he can deal.
Now, here’s to a less worrisome birth!
Ravishly is a media company that celebrates the mess of being human.
This article was originally published at Ravishly. Reprinted with permission from the author.