Labor and delivery can be messy and more than a little embarrassing. But don't worry, the medical staff have seen it all.
If you're a first-time mama, odds are one of your veteran friends has regaled you with the tales of some pretty icky labor room happenings—poop, gas, fluids, and more—and it can definitely make the most modest mamas among us cringe at the thought. But don't worry, the medical staff has seen (and heard) it all. And while it may seem embarrassing to you, it's perfectly natural. We talked to the experts about what to expect—and why you shouldn't be freaking out about it.
1. You'll probably poop
"Those who work in the birth field see all of the messier aspects of childbirth as just another day at work. Nothing can shock us," says Tracy Donegan, midwife and founder of GentleBirth. Pooping isn't all that uncommon and it's certainly not unexpected. "We love poop," says Donegan. "It's not that we're weird, but it means baby is coming soon after." This is a great sign that things are happening exactly the way they should.
2. You might start leaking
Nobody tells you about all the "stuff" that comes out in labor! "If it's not your waters leaking, then it's birth show—or both," says Donegan. "This continues throughout labor, so be sure to change your pads often so you can stay comfortable." Typically the fluid is clear in color. If the fluid appears yellow or greenish, it could mean the baby pooped inside you, explains Ashley Guezlow, RN, labor and delivery at UnityPoint Health - Meriter in Madison, Wisconsin. "This is okay and your baby is still safe," she says. "However, we will take extra precautions at your delivery, and sometimes suction out the fluid from your baby's mouth to make sure he or she doesn't inhale it," which can lead to an infection. Your nurses will keep an eye on the look and smell of your amniotic fluid just to make sure everything is okay.
3. You'll pass gas
"It's a normal bodily function," says Guezlow. "While you're in labor, stress, hormones, and contractions irritate your bowels and make you gassy." Don't give it a second thought. "You'll find us acting like it never happened," she says. However, if the smell is coming from the fluid that you're leaking, it could mean that your uterus is infected. "We'll monitor your temperature to make sure everything is okay," says Guezlow.
4. You may make strange sounds
"Vocalization can be very helpful as a coping mechanism in labor, and often times those low animal-like sounds, which can sound a little like lovemaking, are totally instinctual," says Donegan. "Sometimes moms aren't even aware that they are making them." Don't be afraid to make a little noise—your medical team has heard it all before.
5. You may want to get naked
"As labor progresses some moms can't bear the sensation of clothing on their skin," explains Donegan. "All of your senses are heightened and you might want to take everything off." Feel free to do so. "The staff is very used to this phenomena and will encourage you to do whatever feels right."
So while you may view the above as cringeworthy, your birthing staff will see it as an everyday part of a normal delivery. The more you know and are aware of what to expect, the better prepared you'll be. "The medical support team should prep a first-time mom as to what to expect during labor," says Kyra Caruso, a doula and childbirth educator. "The more the women know about the process and the better understanding they have about their body and its functions, the better the birth."