Birth Fears: Pooping

Birth Fears: Pooping

Pushing, pooping, and perineal tearing. This is what I affectionately call the three P’s of labor fears. I will be tacking each of these subjects over the next few weeks.

Class after class, I am often asked if there is any way to avoid pooping during labor.

Will I Poop During Labor?

The answer is yes. There will be poop if you are making progress during second stage (pushing) and if you have eaten in the last 48 hours.

Trust me, you want both of these things to be true!

WHY OH WHY must I Poop?

Let’s consider anatomy here a bit.

The top of your uterus pushes the baby down through the pelvis and into the birth canal.  A lot of downward pressure is applied to your intestines and anus (not to mention, your vagina).

anatomy image

The baby’s head puts pressure on the intestines, anus, and vagina on its trip through the pelvis.

When you begin to move the baby down and out, you are engaging the same muscles used to   have a bowel movement. If your pushing efforts (or breathing efforts) are making progress and there is any poo there – it will come out.

Oddly enough, this is a good sign that your providers LOOK for and even get excited over.

Should you feel bad or worried about pooping? Heck no!

Providers are experts at using the pad under your bottom to tuck over and then roll away the evidence.

Very often, you won’t even know you had a bowel movement because well, there are much more interesting things going on!   As a doula, I keep a little peppermint spray that can be spritzed IF there is a scent, but typically there is none.

In summary:

Will you poop? Likely.

Will it matter? No way.

Try to let this fear go… pooping is normal and expected during labor.

Just like the children’s book tells us, everybody poops!

If you want some inspiration, check out this fun pooping song – it will make you laugh!

What IS a DOULA? (Part 1)

What IS a DOULA? (Part 1)

When I tell people that I am a birth doula, their first response is normally “You’re a what?”

“A doula–I support women and their families during birth,” I say.

“That is really cool,” is normally their response.

They are correct: Being a birth doula is one of the coolest, most rewarding jobs out there.

So, what exactly IS a BIRTH doula?

Labor and birth doulas specialize in pregnancy and birth. They are trained professionals who provide informational, emotional, and physical support for mothers before, during, and after birth.

What does this mean?

In many way, doulas provide birth concierge services.

We provide support and education throughout pregnancy to answer your questions, both big and small.

We provide continuous support throughout labor and birth, and assist the family during their postpartum time.

Isn’t the Midwife or OB there to support the family? What about the nurses?

This is a common question. Surprisingly, a birth doula is likely the only person, aside from the mother’s partner, who remains present continuously throughout labor.

Every other birth team member will intermittently check in, but a doula does not leave the family’s side.

The birth doula will provide comfort measures, such as suggesting labor positions, performing massage or acupressure, ensuring mom and partner are well hydrated, and “holding space” in the birth room (which means ensuring the environment is conducive to labor.)

What is the evidence? Is doula care just “woo?”

Currently, 6% of births in the US are attended by doulas, with a growing interest in and recognition of the positive impact of doula care.

Extensive research has shown the many positive benefits of having a birth doula as part of your birth team. Women with doula support are less likely to have pain relief medications administered, less likely to have a cesarean birth, and reported to have a more positive childbirth experience[1].

Research also consistently finds that partners feel positively about the choice to hire a birth doula. In a 2008 study, all of nearly 200 partners rated having a doula as “very positive” (93%) or positive (7%). Those are some pretty good ratings!

Are Birth Doulas just for “Crunchy Moms” or Moms wanting a Natural Birth?

Birth Doulas are not just for families desiring an unmedicated birth. Doula support can be helpful in any type of birth. In fact, almost every birth I have attended has had some type of intervention, from induction to planned and unplanned Cesarean section.

The testimony below from a birthing mom truly encompasses the non-judgmental support that doulas provide:

“Mandy was the first person I called when I went into labor at 36.5 weeks.


She was there the entire time throughout our short and sweet natural birth (3.5 hours!), suggesting labor positions, helping my husband use massage and counterpressure during my contractions, bringing me washcloths with lavender and clary sage oil to calm me as I labored in the shower, feeding me snacks and keeping me hydrated, encouraging me as I pushed, and taking photos as my husband and I bonded with our daughter and I nursed her for the first time.


Our daughter had to be monitored briefly due to low temperature and low blood sugar, and Mandy attended to me and my postpartum needs while my husband stayed with our baby.


Finally, she checked in with us regularly throughout our hospital stay and over the next few weeks as we got settled at home.”

You may now be thinking: “Wow! This is pretty cool. I want a birth doula!”

There some great sites to check out as well so you can find the doula that is right for you.

Doula Match– A one-stop shop of doulas in your area who are available on you due date.

DONA – A certifying organization for doulas with a directory.

I would be honored if you filled out my contact form to schedule a meeting and discuss your desires!

Alphabet Soup: A Guide to Pregnancy Message Boards

Alphabet Soup: A Guide to Pregnancy Message Boards

When I became pregnant, I sought out community in the way many do– in online message boards. Lots of message boards. These “discussions” gleamed with the promise of wisdom and camaraderie, yet, there was a roadblock. I was confronted with an array of terms and acronyms, many of which I had never seen before. My head grew foggy as my brain searched to decipher the meaning behind these almost random letters. Despite my best efforts, my initial reading of the new abbreviations and acronyms was …a bit off.

My internal monologue went something like this:

FTM “Wow, there are a lot of Female-to-Male transgender folks on this forum — pretty cool!”
DH “What the heck is that? Hmmm, must not be too important.”
TTC “This is something important. I know what it is…I just can’t think of it.”
DS “Nope, no clue.”
DF “Perhaps DS and DF are related!”
DD “The letter D is very important around here!”
EBF and NIP “I have no idea what is going on here. Perhaps I should just close my browser.”

I realized I was missing a lot of potentially important information by not knowing what the acronyms meant.

It made no sense that every message board was filled with individuals who had transitioned to a different sex or gender identity.

I had no idea who DH or DS or DD were, although I gathered they were in fact people. Even as someone who had been working in the birth community by doing reproductive justice work, and had even PICKED INA MAY GASKIN (a very famous midwife) up from the airport, I had no idea that the birth world was filled with people who used acronyms. I HATE acronyms. I find them unwelcoming and unnecessary.

It took me many months to figure out what all of the acronyms meant. Granted , this confusion is coming from a woman who had no idea what LOL meant well into the new millennium when a girlfriend was texting it to me.

Given my prior mishap, I thought it would be useful to decode commonly used acronyms for my readers.

May this list arm you with the tools necessary to go forth and connect with others! May this list help you understand what other birth workers and providers are talking about! May this list, well, may this list help you know what the heck is going on.

AC – Assisted conception
AI – Artificial insemination
AP – Attachment Parenting
ART – Assisted Reproductive Technology
BBT – Basal Body Temperature
BC – Birth Control
BF – Breastfeeding
BFN – Big Fat Negative (pregnancy test)
CD – Cloth Diaper
CM – Cervical Mucus
CVS – Chorionic Villus Sampling. A prenatal test used to determine the likelihood of genetic conditions.
DA – Dairy Allergy
DD – Dear Daughter
DF – Dear Fiance
DH – Dear Husband
DI – Donor Insemination
DPO – Days Past Ovulation
DS – Dear Son or Dear Spouse (Confusing! Context matters with this one.)
DSD – Dear Step-daughter
DSS – Dear Step-son
EBF – Exclusive Breastfeeding
EBM – Expressed Breast Milk
EDD – Estimated Due Date
EN – Extended Nursing
EP – Ectopic Pregnancy
ER – Egg Retrieval
ET – Embryo Transfer

FF – Formula Feeding
FTM – First Time Mom
GD – Gestational Diabetes
GF – Gluten-free
HPT – Home Pregnancy Test
IUI – Intrauterine Insemination
IVF – In Vitro Fertilization
LO – Little One
MC – Miscarriage
MIL – Mother-in-Law
MS – Morning Sickness
NFP – Natural Family Planning
NIP – Nursing in Public
NTNP – Not Trying/Not Preventing
O – Ovulation
OH – Other Half
OPK – Ovulation Predictor Kit
PCOS – Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
PG – Pregnant
POAS – Pee on a Stick
SAHM – Stay at Home Mom
SB – Stillbirth
TTC – Trying to Conceive
US – Ultrasound
VBAC – Vaginal Birth after Cesarean
WAHM – Work at Home Mom
WOHM – Work Out of Home Mom
WM – Working Mom

The Rebozo: What it is and Why I Love it!

The Rebozo: What it is and Why I Love it!

The rebozo has become an integral part of how I support laboring people. You may be asking yourself, ‘what is it and why is it so important?’.

This traditional Mexican shawl has the ability to become an extension of your partner’s hands and arms during labor.

The rebozo also serves as an extra doula in the room! I use the rebozo to help provide additional support, massage, and, when necessary, to help release muscles to create balance in the body.

My original rebozo was a gift from my very first client, and I treasure its calming blue presence. I think of her, her husband, and her baby (now a school-aged child) every time I use it to support a family during labor.

The rebozos I bring to labor carry with them all of the energy and wisdom of the previous births they have attended.

A Brief History of the Rebozo

The rebozo (pronunciation) is a traditional Mexican shawl, used to help with carrying objects, carrying babies, massage during pregnancy, and support during labor and birth by midwives. Rebozos are long, traditionally 2 feet by 9 ft., giving plenty of fabric to wrap and support the body during work, which was its original purpose.

The rebozo is a highly personal piece unique to each woman. The way a woman would wear the rebozo signaled her status as married, single, or a “lady of the night.” Rebozos became very fashionable when artist Frida Kaholo and Mexico’s first empress wore them in the 1800’s. During the Mexican Revolution of 1910, rebels used the rebozo to smuggle guns and other weapons past checkpoints. The rebozo became a symbol of Mexico’s struggle for independence.

Since rebozo’s are so useful for daily manual labor, it is no surprise that women used rebozos to support the hard work of becoming a mother and mothering. Rebozos can be worn around women’s waists during pregnancy to help alleviate discomfort and provide additional support. Midwives used the rebozo to help shift the baby into an optimal position for labor, thus helping the head descend through the pelvis. The rebozo is also used as another pair of arms that can hug the mother by being wrapped tightly around her shoulders, or provide counterpressure on the back or hips through tying the rebozo.

A Little More About How I Use The Rebozo

Every Brainy Birth doula client receives an authentic rebozo, as I believe it is important to pay homage to the cultural significance of the rebozo by using an actual rebozo instead of a sheet or scarf.

During the prenatal visit, I work with you and your partner to teach you how to use the rebozo for massage and to help alleviate any pregnancy discomforts you may have. I leave you with a “prescription” of exercises and massage to do with the rebozo specific to your needs. This gives you and your partner a chance to become comfortable with the rebozo before birth so that its use feels natural. Experimenting with something new during labor usually doesn’t work very well!

Here is a sneak peak at a few rebozo techniques:

Rebozo Sift:
Using the rebozo to take the pressure off the mother’s back while providing a massage that releases the lower back and the muscles supporting the uterus. It feels really nice.

Rebozo Lift:
Using the rebozo to baby wear while you are still pregnant! This technique lifts the baby to provide relief in mom’s back and hips. You can wear the rebozo like this all day long!

Rebozo Shimmy:
A fun technique that releases the lower back and pelvic floor.

I know it might sound a little odd that a ‘piece of fabric’ can do so much, however, my experience truly shows that a rebozo can be an amazing source of support for women during labor. During some labors. the rebozo is used consistently and during others, it never comes out of the bag. Just like a good doula, it is always there, holding space and waiting for the appropriate time to make itself known..