I attended child-birthing classes. I knew how to breathe. I read every book on giving birth ever printed.
But I was totally unprepared for what I call “The Incident” (where I ended up pooping during birth), which was a horrifying event that took place in the delivery room.
Let’s back up a little bit.
I was raised in a religious home by conservative parents who placed great emphasis on etiquette. I couldn’t bring myself to mention shaving my legs in front of my father until I was in college.
I’m not one of those girls who will burp or pass gas to get a laugh. The fact that I just typed “pass gas” as opposed to “fart” pretty much sums it up. I’m not a prude; I just have strong feelings about what it means to treat ourselves and others with respect.
Alright, there’s your back story. Now, fast-forward to me being hugely pregnant.
I asked my dad if he’d rather be at the hospital while I labored or be the one to babysit our then-four-year-old son. He said he’d like to be there and that he felt helpless enough out in the waiting room. It would be much worse for his nerves if he wasn’t even in the same building.
Knowing I had a spot open in the delivery room, I told him he was welcome to join us for the actual birth.
I’d be in enough pain that I wouldn’t care who was there, as long as they were quiet. I told him I was fine with it either way and to my surprise, he decided to be in the room while I delivered the baby.
Granted, he took the chair on the other side of the equipment from which he couldn’t see me at all, but he was there and could hear everything. Hear — and smell everything.
I was deep in labor, attempting to tune the world out, and I felt it. Something was… happening. Something that wasn’t a baby was making its way out down there.
I was pooping. On the delivery table. In front of other people.
This hadn’t happened to me the first time I’d given birth. How could this be happening?!
Horrified as the smell hit my nose, I gasped through the contraction to my husband that he should get the nurse because I’d pooped myself. My husband is a little hard of hearing, so I had to repeat, louder, “Get a nurse! I just pooped myself.”
The poor nurse was in right away to clean me up, and no one in my family has spoken of it since.
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I did lots of Google searches on the topic since pooping during childbirth, and it turns out that it’s a pretty common occurrence. The same muscles that push out a baby also push out waste, so it makes sense that if you have anything in your bowels, it’s getting pushed out, too.
They used to administer enemas to laboring moms for this reason, but now I guess they’d rather allow us to be completely mortified by pooping in front of friends and family.
So if you’ve got a bun in the oven, let me be so kind as to warn you: you may deliver a little something extra. Wrap your mind around that now and warn your loved ones before it’s too late.
Sarah Kovac is the accessibility editor for Reviewed and USA Today. Her work has been published in PC Mag, TIME, CNN, Wirecutter, Prevention Magazine, and more.