Learning Center > The Today Show: Why moms poop during childbirth… and why it might actually be beneficial

The Today Show: Why moms poop during childbirth… and why it might actually be beneficial

The Today Show


When Nancy Redd was pregnant with her first child, her birth coach dropped some truth about labor’s dirty secret. “She said, ‘You need to listen to (me) and listen good. You are going to feel like you need to poop, and you are going to poop … Just relax and act like you are on the can and you’ll be fine,’” Redd, 36, of New York City, told TODAY.

While women feel embarrassed about pooping during labor, it’s totally natural. And, it might even be healthier for both mom and baby. “If women poop during the delivery they are using the right muscles,” said Dr. Christine Greves, a doctor at the Center for Obstetrics and Gynecology at Orland Health. Redd was surprised, but she felt relieved someone told her about it. “I was luckily prepared,” she said.

Redd — the author of “Pregnancy, O.M.G.!” — shares her story because she wants to destigmatize pooping during labor. “You might poop, and I want you to know it is OK,” she said. “I would like to live in a world where we are confident and comfortable.”

Hospitals don’t track how many women poop during labor, Greves said, but added that it’s extremely common. That’s because the muscles used during labor are the same as used during defecation. What’s more — pooping during labor might help babies develop their microbiome, the bacteria that lives on and in people, which helps with everything from digestion to being able to fight off colds. Newborn babies do not have microbiomes.

“Babies are born with a sterile gut. They don’t have any bacteria in the large intestine,” Tracy Shafizadeh, director of scientific communication at Evolve BioSystems, told TODAY. As the baby travels through the vaginal canal she’s exposed to mom’s bacteria. When mom poops, baby can pick up important gut bacteria, Shafizadeh said.

Continue reading on the Today Show here.