A pregnant woman lies back on a hospital bed holding her stomach, looking concerned at abstract shapes floating above her.

Giving Birth And IBS: Pain, Poop & Other Worries

Ever since I got pregnant, and even before that, the thought of giving birth scared me. Not only does it seem physically impossible to push a human out of your body, but I was also terrified that I would have an IBS flare-up during the whole process.

Now that I’ve been through it, I thought I’d share how giving birth with IBS actually went down for me!

Phase 1: Contractions are basically the same as stomach cramps

I went into labor at 11 pm one night. It all started as really mild contractions that I first mistook for gas pains or something like that. For the first 4 or 5 hours, I wasn’t even sure if it was labor.

Even when things picked up and I could finally say that yes, I probably would have a baby today, I considered myself so lucky that I was used to bad stomach cramps that come with my IBS. Compared to those, my contractions didn’t even hurt that much!

I’ve read on the internet that some people with IBS or bad period cramps don’t necessarily notice when they’re in labor because they’re so used to that kind of pain. Well, I thought, I must be one of them! Little did I know…

Even though I do get really bad pains with IBS that I’m unable to talk through, I had no idea what was about to come.

Phase 2: Saying goodbye to last night’s meal (and my unmedicated birth plan)

About 10 hours after labor started, we drove to the hospital. My contractions were pretty close together and I was sure that I’d have the baby really soon!

Imagine my disbelief when they told me that I had barely progressed. I was sent home with the encouraging statement that it would probably take several more hours before they could even admit me.

From there on, things got bad. Contractions got so strong that I was ready to die at each and every one, and they never stopped. Even in between, I was in pain and unable to do anything. I mean, IBS pains are bad, but this was still on another level – at least for me.

That’s the point where my bowels decided that they’d had enough of it and started emptying themselves. In addition to trying to cope with pain, I now also had diarrhea and was forced to labor in the bathroom a lot. But at least, I was at home!

I also was completely unable to eat during the whole process. Contractions were making me nauseous like crazy, and food was the last thing on my mind. Basically, labor felt like I was having the worst IBS flare of my life.

For about 3 hours, it only got worse. Until I finally decided that I did not want an unmedicated birth anymore because I just wouldn’t make it without an epidural.

We drove back to the hospital, and thankfully I was dilated far enough to be admitted this time. I got my epidural and was finally able to breathe again.

Phase 3: A poop-free birth

Once my epidural kicked in, I started feeling so much better and my digestive system calmed down as well. Although I’m pretty sure that my bowels were empty at this point anyway. It’s crazy how intense pain can trigger all kinds of IBS-like symptoms!

Once I had settled into my hospital bed, labor started progressing super quickly for some reason. Four hours after getting there, my baby boy was born. Without any flare-ups or other stomach issues.

But as it turns out, accidentally emptying my bowels on the table wasn’t even on my mind at that moment. I was just focused on pushing a baby out, which is not easy! The whole process of labor and delivery was so hard on my mind and body that none of these things mattered anymore.

I honestly don’t understand how some people are still able to apply make-up to look presentable during this time. All I cared about was for the pain to stop. Oh, and I did not poop on the table, because there was nothing left inside me anymore.

All in all, the last part of my labor and delivery ended up being okay, mostly thanks to my epidural.

Well, I thought once it was over, that wasn’t that hard! Until the whole recovery process started. But that’s a story for another time.

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