When it comes to giving birth, it’s only natural to have some reservations. And there are plenty of worries that no one likes to talk about out loud. JESSICA JANE SAMMUT reveals how you can kick those awkward concerns to the kerb!
What if I poo
“During labour, most women will have a bowel motion when the baby’s head presses down on the bowel (which is directly behind the uterus),” reveals Dr Gino Pecoraro, leading obstetrician for the Australian Medical Association.
“It’s actually a good sign as it can often mean the baby is moving down into the pelvis and getting close to being born,” adds Lael Stone, childbirth educator and creator of About Birth, a leading online childbirth education program.
So, yes, it can happen! But do you want to know the good news? The likelihood is you will not even realise or care!
“The urge to bear down and birth a baby is directed at the bottom, so the feeling is similar to doing a poo,” explains Andy Mayer, founder of NobleBirth education service.
And don’t fret. If it does happen, rest assured that the attending midwife or obstetrician will discreetly wipe away any mess. Dignity intact!
HOW TO CONQUER
“Women should know it’s a perfectly normal occurrence to have a bowel movement during labour. It’s something which anyone who works in a labour ward will have seen a thousand times before,” comforts Dr Pecoraro.
“Relax in the knowledge that labour is messy!” advises Tanya Strusberg, Lamaze-certified childbirth educator and founder of Birthwell Birthright. “There is blood, amniotic fluid... and yes, sometimes poo. It’s part and parcel of giving birth, and most of all, it’s normal.”
Allison Cummins, a leading lecturer in midwifery from the Faculty of Health at the University of Technology, Sydney adds, “Many women in early labour (before the contractions become strong and regular) actually experience diarrhoea in any event (much like with a heavy period) which naturally empties out the bowel – so there can, in fact, be very little left to expel during the birth.”
If you are really concerned about it, one way to avoid passing a bowel motion during labour is to ask your obstetrician for an enema when you arrive at the hospital. This can clear the lower part of the bowel. But, when you’re in the throws of that cocktail of hormones which makes birth happen, don’t be surprised if you don’t even care.
What if I want to quit
Sure, there may be moments in your labour when you would quite like to quit, curl up in front of the Kardashians and consume a large bar of chocolate. But unfortunately, you ain’t going anywhere until your job is done!
HOW TO CONQUER
When it comes to getting through birth, it is imperative to try and be positive and to keep reminding yourself that you can get through it successfully. After all, it’s what our bodies are naturally designed to do. Attending antenatal classes and HypnoBirthing classes can greatly increase this sense of control and power, helping you to manage your pain threshold in addition.
“The tools that you learn through HypnoBirthing allow you to stay calm through the intensity of labour, enabling your body to do what it is designed to do via a range of techniques, including breathing, self-hypnosis, relaxation, visualisation, and massage,” explains Melissa Spilsted, founder and director of HypnoBirthing Australia. “Just as an athlete prepares for a major physical event using their mind and body – so should you! Labour might be one of the most beautiful moments of your life.”
Will my partner ever see me as sexy again?
A lot of women worry that if their partner sees them giving birth, the sight will forever put them off intimate relations, and they won’t be sexually attracted to them.
When bringing a baby into the world, it is true that your sexual ‘bits’ become orchestral in giving life, and yes, it can take some mental rearranging. But there’s no need to worry.
“Most partners are actually amazed by the miracle that is birth,” says Dr Pecoraro. “They are usually in awe of the tremendous amount of power that their loved one displays in bringing their baby into the world.”
“Watching a woman work through childbirth often ignites a new respect and belief in them,” confirms Lael.
HOW TO CONQUER
If you would feel more comfortable if your partner was not anywhere down the ‘business end’ during birth, let them know, and allow them the vital role of offering support from your head end.
“There is no rule that says your partner must watch the birth from the ‘deep’ end. It is up to you,” advises Kirstin Bouse, a national psychologist specialising in mental health during pregnancy, birth and post-birth. “When you’re both ready post-partum, you can then take steps to feel attractive and focus on your relationship with each another again – by reconnecting on an emotional level and easing back into the sexual element.”
Dr Pecoraro reassures us, “The human sex drive is one of the most basic and powerful urges that humans have, and it would be incredibly uncommon for a man to be put off having sex with the woman he loves just because he’s seen a baby emerge from her.” Rest easy on that one.
What if I groan and grunt?
Feeling like making some noise?! Go for it! Grunting, groaning, mooing, moaning, chanting, humming, or singing is a part of birth, girls! And you know what? That’s cool. Don’t be worried about letting off some vocal steam.
“All women make some sort of noise when in labour – the midwives and doctors are completely used to it. Making noise during labour is fantastic. It can help move the sensations of a contraction through your body,” advises Lael.
“Groaning is a good sign that you are working with your body,” she adds. HOW TO CONQUER “Birth is about being primal, so if you can go with the flow and let it out, you will be doing your body a great service,” says Lael. “Don’t fight it. It’s the one time you can let rip and say whatever you need to, and everyone will still be kind to you!”
“If you are worried about making a noise, chances are you have a rule in your head that says it is not okay for some reason,” reveals Kirstin. ”Write these thoughts down and let them go. Embrace the fact that you may feel like making some noise. Think instead about the fact that making the noise could help you to perform to your best, in turn helping your baby arrive into the world.”
I don't want everyone seeing my lady bits
The thought of being vulnerable and exposed in labour is a natural concern to have, but it needn’t be. You will not be running around the labour room in the nude. Through most of your labour you may be clothed (if you want to be). Even mothers who have a water birth may wear a bikini top for privacy.
Having said that, even mamas-to-be who are quite modest often find that during birth they lose their inhibitions, and this may happen to you. You will most likely be in a state of mind which recognises that there is nothing more important than bringing your baby into the world safely.
“The reality is that really only one or two people other than you and your partner are present in the delivery room (generally speaking) in any event,” says Dr Pecoraro. “Of the people present, they are all highly trained, have a specific job to do and will help you feel at ease. By the time you are pushing to deliver your baby, you will be more focused on the task at hand.”
HOW TO CONQUER
“If you are concerned, talk to your midwife,” suggests Allison. “Midwives are aware of maintaining a woman’s privacy during labour and birth. They will offer the utmost respect. Talk to them before labour about what to wear and who is going to support you, so you can allay any fears.”
Andy adds, “Focus on what you are doing (having a baby) and normalise the situation.”
She continues, “It’s not about being a porn star. People are not there to check you out and make judgement on you.
Also, your private parts will only be on display towards the end of labour when your baby is crowning. It’s not for hours on end.“