Pooping on the delivery table is good for your baby, so bear down and push... actually squeeze! Literally the biggest fear of new moms everywhere seems to be the concern of pooping during delivery. Although this is a natural part of the process, and happens to just about everyone, young women everywhere spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about this normal, healthy bodily function.
With the rise of C-section deliveries and correlating autoimmune diseases amongst our children, researchers have finally started to look into why. A new study suggests that the lack of vaginal deliveries occurring in our nation's hospitals significantly contributes to the improper functioning of our children’s immune systems. The type and amount of probiotic bacteria that a baby receives from the vaginal flora in the birth canal, along with the fecal matter usually present during delivery, plays a significant role in the development of an infants microbiome. Since most babies are born face down there is usually a transfer of bacteria from a mothers healthy poop to her baby during delivery.
There are a variety of reasons for the rise in cesarean sections occurring, but two concerning reasons are convenience and improper coaching/birthing techniques.
The convenience reason, although often cited by professionals in the workplace, is sad but true. Doctors being paid flat rates by insurance companies want to keep a tight schedule; waiting around for a baby to be born is the exact opposite of ideal scheduling. Parents, mainly working mothers, also want to be able to deliver when it is convenient and they have gotten their affairs in order. Little do they know that once baby arrives, they can toss that “schedule” to the wind. If more mothers were truly informed and understood the importance and health benefits to a traditional vaginal delivery, there is a good chance many may forego the c-section route pitched as a "simple surgery."
More concerning is the teaching of improper birthing techniques leading many mothers who would prefer a vaginal delivery into an emergency C-section. Unfortunately, both doctors and traditional birthing classes so often steer new parents in the wrong direction. Teaching or telling soon-to-be laboring mothers to push instructs them to utilize an inefficient and ineffective birthing method. Combined with the fact that US hospitals still have laboring women lying on their back rather than squatting, standing, or reclining in a birthing tub further complicates the issue. So often new mamas explain how they were pushing like doing an abdominal work out rather then squeezing as you would to use the bathroom because no one ever honestly explained what they should be doing or feeling. Even doctors in the delivery room rarely give the proper instruction to laboring mothers already in distress resulting in these high C-section rates.
Further complicating the matter, women having an emergency C-section are put on an antibiotic drip for precautionary purposes. Thus babies born by C-section do not receive the large dose of probiotic bacteria from the birth canal and are also exposed to antibiotics from birth.
As a mother who has given birth to four children rather quickly in a hospital, the best advice I ever received from my own mother was not to push, but to squeeze as though you are pooping. As offensive as many people find that line, which is just silly, it is the truth. For some reason, we as Americans are so squeamish about our bodily functions even when birthing a baby, creating new life, and as the study suggests actually improving the healthy outcome of your child.
Following in the footsteps of the hygiene hypothesis which suggests that our modern day society is literally harming itself with cleanliness, this research essentially means that detrimental "cleanliness" is beginning with birth. Throughout pregnancy, the majority of women take prenatal vitamins, probiotics, fish oil, and a whole host of other supplements to improve their babies healthy outcome, yet that same population is also attempting to avoid the most natural and effective method around.
So what does this mean? What it means is that as women we need to support other women soon to embark on the experience that is labor and delivery. Be truthful, be honest, and be real. Tell new mamas what they are going to feel and what they need to do. This is honestly why most societies and cultures likely exclude men from the birthing room; it is not a place for modesty and inhibitions because birthing babies is serious work.
Ladies, rather than worrying about your beautiful birth plan that involves candles and classical music, stand up for yourself, toss your modesty to the wind, get naked, and plan to poop on the table for a faster delivery, less likely c-section, and future health of your baby. As the children's book so succinctly states, "Everyone Poops."
Photo Credit: Kristin dePaula