Enema during labour: What you need to know

Enema during labour

Enema during labour: What you need to know

In India it is a standard practise for an expectant mother to be administered enema once she is admitted to the hospital in labour. The Ministry of Health directive is to administer an enema only if the mother needs it (she is suffering from constipation and complains about it) or if she expresses a desire to have an enema administered.

An enema is essentially a process where a catheter is inserted into your rectum and a soapy or saline liquid is injected into the catheter which helps empty the intestines of any stool. The process is to many, uncomfortable and embarrassing.

It still is a common practise because it is believed:

  1. To speed labour (There is no conclusive evidence to support the same)
  2. Delivery is cleaner for those taking care of the mother in labour (Sure passing stool during labour maybe messy but nurses do have cotton and tissues at hand to wipe away the faeces)
  3. Reduce risks of infections in mother and child (Again there is no conclusive evidence for the same)
  4. Clears the intestine and minimises chances of the mother passing stool during labour (this is true)
  5. Reduces risks of an episiotomy wound breaking open in case of a large bowel movement during labour (There isn’t enough evidence to support this thought)

It is natural to be worried about bowel movements during labour as the baby coming down the birth canal, squashes the bowels forcing the contents out. Most women begin labour though with a slightly upset stomach which is nature’s way of ensuring more trips to the bathroom to empty out the intestines.