Mumfluencer Victoria Emes – whose celeb fans include Dermot O’Leary and Stacey Solomon – told of the moment her daughter was born in a “poonami”, in a bid to bust the taboo around pooing during birth in a brand new podcast from Devon-based birth expert and author Siobhan Miller.
Telling her birth story on The Positive Birth Company’s brand new Up The Duff podcast, sponsored by women’s tech brand Elvie, Victoria opened up about the moment her second child entered the world during a homebirth.
“The force of the pushing was making me dry retch, so my husband positioned me over the toilet,” explained Victoria. “But then it just started projectile shooting out both ends. There was so much poo, Rob was catching it in his hands. He was literally catching it in his hands and pouring it over my head into the toilet!”
Victoria, a fan of hypnobirthing, had planned for a calm home birth with soft music and twinkling fairy lights but admits the reality wasn’t exactly the blissful scene some might picture when they think about birth.
“I was covered in sh*t, Rob was covered in sh*t, the baby was covered in sh*t, and the midwife had it on her forehead too. It was absolutely everywhere. And it stank! Afterwards, we turned the light on and it was like a scene from Saw, but with poo. My feet were actually brown. It looked like I had a pair of poo shoes on!”
Far from being embarrassed about sharing the experience, Victoria said she was proud to share the story and shine a light on a normal bodily process that many experience during labour. “It might not sound like it, but my birth was a really positive experience,” says Victoria. “I want people to know that the poo thing – that’s our hang-up. It’s our shame. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. The midwives don’t care!”
Up the Duff podcast host, Torquay-based author and birth expert Siobhan Miller agreed, explaining that pooing during labour is often a good sign. “What’s happening when you poo in labour is that as your baby’s head is moving down the birth canal it literally squishes your bowel flat so anything in your bowel will come out as your baby goes round the U bend ready to be born. This is why midwives see it as a good sign if someone does a poo in labour – it’s a happy thing and means your baby is on their way out!”.
For many expectant parents planning a home birth, as Victoria did, they may find that their birth equipment comes with items to prepare them for this very eventuality. Many birth pools come with added accessories including a sieve to scoop the poo out of the water. And homebirth midwife teams will often bring puppy training pads to protect surfaces too.
However, birth expert Miller does not recommend taking anything to force things to get moving in the poo department. “One old-school thing that people used to recommend to bring on labour was castor oil,” explained Siobhan. “But all that will do is give you diarrhoea. There’s a small chance that your bowel contracting – because it’s spasming because of the diarrhoea, might set off your uterus. But all that will mean is you go into labour whilst having diarrhoea.”
As well as hosting a series of taboo-busting conversations with well-known influencers, campaigners and celebrities in their podcast, The Positive Birth Company, whose HQ is based near Totnes, has been sharing real-life stories and taking part in public stunts to normalise bodily functions and processes that are often seen as too embarrassing to share. These include publishing birth videos and stories on their social media accounts shared by people in their community that show pooing during labour, as well as standing outside the Women’s Health Unit at Torbay Hospital with a large sign saying “It’s OK to poo during labour!”
It’s hoped that by highlighting a very normal and natural birth process, fewer people will feel shame or anxiety about it happening during their own labour.
“Birth is incredible,” says Miller. “And none of this stuff is anything to feel embarrassed about.”
Up The Duff is a brand new podcast created by The Positive Birth Company in partnership with women’s tech brand Elvie. The podcast is hosted by author, birth expert and award-winning founder Siobhan Miller, a former successful Dragon’s Den contestant whose book has sold more than 100,000 copies worldwide. Series one of the podcast is all about taboos and features a series of ground-breaking conversations with well-known influencers, celebrities and campaigners on everything from postnatal incontinence to leaky boobs and postpartum bleeding.
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