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Women often confess to worrying about this more than anything else. Lots of mums-to-be open their bowels during labour, but not in large amounts because, for many women, one of the first signs of labour is getting the runs - nature's way of clearing the bowel beforehand.

When it comes to the second stage of labour, the contractions become 'expulsive', which means you'll get the feeling of needing to bear down or push. There'll still be a trickle of amniotic fluid and usually there'll be blood-stained mucus, so your midwife will be discreetly changing any pads underneath you to help keep you comfortable.

When your baby's head is almost visible, often the point when the bowels open, she'll hold a pad against your back passage and no-one else will even be aware that your bowels have opened.

As your baby's head presses on the rectum you'll feel as though you need to open your bowels, even if you don't actually do so. There's nothing you can do about this, and if you try to 'hold back' you'll only make yourself feel more uncomfortable. You might even feel that you're baby's travelling through your back passage.

Giving birth in water doesn't make you immune to doing a poo. Part of a water-birth 'kit' is a plastic sieve for the midwife to keep the water as clean as possible! One dad said that I looked like a garden gnome with a fishing rod, crouching at the edge of the pool with my sieve! Your midwife is completely used to this, and will dispose of the contents without batting an eyelid.

The reality is that when it comes to giving birth, worrying about opening your bowels will be the last thing on your mind.

- Next: find out about the placenta

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