8 Reasons To Use An Enema During L&D And 8 Reasons Not To

The world of labor and delivery is far from a simple one. Laden with controversy over what to do and what not to do, different techniques, ideas, and strategies to use during labor and delivery have come and gone over time. Some have stuck around, such as the epidural, but not even that one has escaped debate and controversy.

Amongst the list of things done during labor and delivery is the use of enema. This one is not as well known as some others may be. Perhaps less discussed because of the area it affects during labor and delivery, an enema is all about clearing out the rear end of things.

So much attention and focus is put on the vaginal part of the female anatomy, given that this is where the dilation is taking place and where a baby’s head is going to occur. But this doesn’t mean that action has ceased in the back. In fact, the bowels can become even more active during labor and delivery.

The idea behind an enema, a liquid or gas inserted into the rectum, is to get things moving and out before labor really heats up and delivery is about to start. So, should it be used, or not? Of course, there are reasons for or against. It’s a personal choice, in the end.

Continue scrolling to keep reading

Click the button below to start this article in quick view

Start Now

16 Yes: Help Avoid An 'Accident' During Labor

So the bowels still work when labor and delivery is happening. And with all the pushing motions that are going on up front, trying to get that baby out and all, there is increased pressure mounting on the bowels. So yeah, accidents do happen and some poop might come out the rear end during a mighty big contraction.

An enema can stop this from happening. Having one of these bad boys before the intensity of contractions really gets under way means that the bowels are going to be crystal clear. That way, nothing can escape out and there will be no embarrassment (at that end, anyway). It can’t take away the other embarrassing moments of labor and delivery, however. Is it necessary, or the embarrassment of a leaky poop just part of the process?

15 No: It's Not As Nice As You Think

Let’s be real about giving birth - it is not a smooth sailing road. In fact, the whole 9 month journey of pregnancy hasn’t been smooth sailing. It is all just going to finish off with a big bang. Well, the big bang is going to take a few hours of contractions, pushing, sweating, and screaming till the baby is out.

So, do you really want to top off this already not so nice procedure of giving birth with another not so nice procedure of an enema? This is basically a needle that goes up the rectum and flushes out anything that is sitting in the bowel. Your vaginal area is already going to be poked and prodded at, why bring the butt into it as well, unless you absolutely have to?

14 Yes: Emptying Out Gives Baby More Room

One of the main scientific reasonings behind an enema is that it essentially makes more room for the baby to come out. By clearing out the bowels, there is more space for the uterus to contract and for the baby to push its way out. While this science makes sense, it is somewhat outdated and not entirely reliable.

Nonetheless, the logic is still there in this argument. If you’re feeling clogged up in the bum and have hours of contractions ahead of your, surely having some space back there will make things easier up front. With less pressure on the bowels, that is one stress taken away for the whole labor and delivery process. There is enough pressure on the front to deal with as it is, enough for a lifetime in fact!

13 No: It's Uncomfortable During First Stage Of Labor

As the first stage of labor kicks into gear, discomfort is fairly inevitable. This is when the contractions first start hitting with full force and things start getting pretty scary. The last thing anyone wants during the first stage of labor is even more discomfort, right?

Unfortunately, an enema can lead to more discomfort. This is because it is essentially a foreign substance entering the body and causing a surprise. Even though it is going to do a good thing eventually by flushing out the bowels, initially it just catches the body off guard and makes things a little tense and uncomfortable at the read end. After all, when anything new hits the rectum, things are going to get weird! So again, unless it is doctor recommended, an enema might just be unnecessary discomfort.

12 Yes: Less Comes Out After Birth

After the pain of labor and delivery comes the magic moment when mom gets to hold her newborn baby in her arms. Despite the sticky mess and sweat everywhere, this moment is incredibly precious. However, the body isn’t finished yet. A common occurrence after giving birth is needing to utilise the bathroom and relieve some pressure on the bowels. In other words, the need to take a giant dump takes over.

So, having an enema before labor and delivery flushes out the system. This means that there is less need to poop after giving birth since there is nothing really in there anymore. If it sounds appealing to you to sit back and enjoy the post-birth clean up without making a mess in the toilet, you might want to hit up that enema.

11 No: Chance Of It Being Watery Instead

The idea of an enema is to rid the bowels of anything that might accidentally slip out during the pushing and heaving of contractions, labor, and delivery. However, by inserting a flush up the butt to get everything, it can lead to other leakages. Sure, there might not be straight up stool coming out during birth, but the butt still might have something else running.

Since an enema is made up of mostly watery substances, it can lead to watery faeces making their way out of the butt while the baby is coming out of the front end of things. This means that the enema doesn’t prevent total embarrassment entirely. Unless it is really needed for medical reasons, an enema isn’t best used for precautionary pooping prevention during the birthing process.

10 Yes: Theoretically A Shorter Labor

This is one is very much a theoretical thing since there is pretty flaky evidence supporting it. However, in some cases of some women who have sometimes had an enema, they have also experienced a shorter labor. Now, shortening the labor time does sound appealing to anyone with their head screwed on right? Less time pushing, screaming, and sweating the way through contractions? Yes, please.

However, if the way to achieve this lessened time is by having a flush stuck up the butt and not a 100% guarantee of a shorter labor, suddenly the appeal isn’t all there. Labor time varies for all sorts of reasons so it hard to pinpoint if an enema is really the reason for the shortened cases. Nonetheless, even if your labor is still long with an enema, at least you won’t have to poop as much during or after.

9 No: Going During Labor Is Totally Normal Anyway

All in all, during labor and delivery, the privacy of the human body and its bodily functions goes to the wind. The midwife, doctor, and delivery team get to know mom-to-be on an extra personal, and physical level. Also, they’ve pretty much seen everything before during other deliveries. So, are they really going to be shocked and embarrassed if a poop slips out?

The answer really is no. A professional medical team during delivery isn’t going to start laughing and pointing at your if a poop escapes the bowels. In fact, they are more likely just to wipe it up discreetly and you won’t even know that it happened. And if you’ve all got a good enough sense of humour, it’ll be a great moment to laugh at later on in life!

8 Yes: Can Actually Reduce The Chance Of Infection

Giving birth is a pretty messy process. Even with advanced technology in our modern age, there is still inevitable mess from bodily fluids and everything else going on. A baby is born after the amniotic sac bursts, so they lose their protective water bubble in that moment. Nonetheless, they still have the vernix coating over the skin. This is the cheesy like substance that they come out of the womb with. This also protects them from infection.

However, those little babies making their way into the world still have to contend with the journey through the birthing canal. This is, to put it plainly, a part of the female body that isn’t always clean and sparkling. The cervix is closely positioned to bowel. Close enough for a potential (very small potential) feacal borne infection to reach the baby. The odds are low, but an enema is thought to eliminate them completely.

7 No: Midwives Are There To Wipe It Up

It is at the professional discretion of midwives to be respectful and mature when dealing with a delivery. They are trained in handling all sorts of bodily functions and are well prepared for anything that can, and probably will, happen during a birth. Midwives who have been around long enough have seen it and are rarely shocked by anything.

Therefore, without an enema, if an accidental bowel movement does happen, the midwives know how to handle this professionally and respectfully. You aren’t going to be put in a position, while mid-contraction, of feeling embarrassed for something that you cannot control. There are bigger things going on than worrying about a bit of poop that escaped the rectum. Odds are, the midwives will wipe it away so carefully and discreetly, you’ll have no idea it even happened.

6 Yes: It Can Also Induce Labor

If the clock has been ticking for hours and the contractions are endless, sometimes medical intervention is needed. There are known cases of labor that has needed induction so that the delivery can get underway. This isn’t the end of the world. Fortunately, there are many ways to induce a labor when the baby is gripping to the walls of the womb and refusing to come out.

An enema is one of these ways to induce labor. For some reason, clearing out the bowels and taking away the pressure at the rear end can unclog a whole lot of stuff and kickstart delivery. Therefore, an enema is often kept at the back of doctors’ minds just in case the labor needs a helping hand. And on the plus side, if this happens, your post-birth poop is taken care of.

5 No: Science Doesn't Back It Up

When it comes to giving birth, everything has to stretch somewhat to accommodate that rather large baby head forcing its way through the birthing canal. Of course, all the stretching and pushing can really take a toll on the sensitive areas of the vaginal area. A perineal wound can happen when perineum stretches too much and the tissue becomes too thin. The perineum is the skin and muscle between the vaginal opening and anus.

So, if a tear does occur here, it can lead to the risk of potential infection. The risks are incredibly low, and there is no real science to back up the thought that an enema stops this risk altogether. This was a thought back in the day, but not so much now. Besides, new medical treatments are all over any risks, tears, or potential disasters during delivery.

4 Yes: Takes The Pressure Off

For women going through labor with a known stomach problem, an enema can be a great solution. For instance, those women who have irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, or a predisposition to diarrhoea or constipation, labor and delivery might just get messier and more painful than otherwise.

This is why an enema is often recommended for women in this position to ease some of the pain and discomfort. Given the stomach is already going to be under a lot of pressure with the contractions and pushing of the baby, and given the stomach is already a sensitive little sausage, sometimes a helping hand is just needed. Of course, your doctor will be well aware of your medical history by this stage and will know if an enema is right for you in this situation.

3 No: More Of A 19th Century Thing

What it really comes down to is that an enema is something that was discovered and used a lot in the 19th century. Treatments during labor and delivery have progressed a lot since then, and the enema hasn’t really kept up with the evolution. Many other things, including many natural remedies, have made it redundant.

While it still has its place in medical situations, such as in cases of constipation or stomach diseases, the enema kind of belongs to the past. It isn’t popping up on the hot up and coming ways to make labor and delivery safer and easier. This is why not many people have heard of it too regularly. If you ask someone from back in the day, that enema was all the rage, but they can probably keep it in the 19th century.

2 Yes: Worth It If Clogged Up Before Labor

Sometimes in life, the bowels just don’t work like they normally do. Whether it’s because of some type of food or a nasty drink, the bowels can just clog up and constipation can happen. This uncomfortable feeling in the stomach and the constant pressure it puts on the bowels isn’t anyone’s cup of tea. Of course, there are some times where it is worse than others. For instance, right before labor and delivery is pretty much the worst time constipation can happen.

So, if you’re unlucky to present to the hospital with not only contractions underway but also a clogged up gut, the doctor might just whip an enema out of their back pocket. This can help ease the pressure of constipation and allow both your body and mind to focus on the real task at hand - pushing a baby out!

1 No: There Are Worse Things To Worry About

Let’s be really real here for a second, of all the worst things that could happen during labor and delivery, an accidental poop isn’t high on that list. From tearing to cramping to unexplainable pain and everything in between, doctors and midwives are looking out for more important things than a little poop coming out the rear end.

As labor progresses and delivery begins, no one cares if you let a poop out. Everyone is focused on the front end, the dilation, and waiting to view the baby’s head crowning. There are so many things to worry about up here that an accidental poop just becomes redundant. In the grand scheme of things, a poop during delivery is just a funny story. As long as the baby comes out safe and sound, not much else matters.

Sources: Reuters.com, Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, Momjunction.com, Babycenter.com

More in Did You Know...