Enema: Helpful During Labor?

I have heard conflicting thoughts on whether one should get an enema before giving birth -- that it can help to move labor along. What are your thoughts in regard to this issue?

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Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

There is no medical indication for an enema as a routine procedure before or during labor. Women usually experience a loosening of the bowel during early labor so constipation is rarely a problem. Actually expelling an enema during the birth process can be more of a hazard in terms of infection than just the normal passage of stool during second stage.

I would not recommend it although sometimes I have suggested it to a woman who is unable to have a bowel movement and I can palpate much stool in the rectum in labor. If membranes are ruptured, this should not be done however.

It may also be used rarely as a way of getting labor started if the cervix is very ripe and the head is engaged and induction would like to be avoided. Sometimes this stimulation of the bowel is all that's necessary.

I hope this answers your question. You may wish to discuss it with your care provider. I would hope that it is never a "routine" procedure.

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