by Staff writer
During a question and answer session, a pregnant woman wanted to know if she really does need to shave her pubic hair before going into the delivery room:
Marielle Reataza, a doctor from the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, answered:
“Hello, I am a doctor and have assisted on gynecologic procedures during my training, as well as delivered babies (both vaginally and via C-section).
Not once have the other doctors, nurses, staff, or myself ever cared about or commented on a patient’s pubic hair.
It’s just not on our radar.
We only care about pubic hair—any hair for that matter—if it gets in the way, i.e., if it is anywhere in our sterile field.
In that case, we will shave it off ourselves.
No, please do not shave it yourself, for fear that you will cause even the most minor cuts or abrasions.”
Another specialist, PJ McNally, from UK, added:
“Hello, I am also a doctor and have assisted in obstetrics during my training, as well as delivering babies.
While I echo the above comment by colleague, that we’re really quite busy doing our job and not all that concerned about what our patients are wearing, hair, makeup etc, I would like to add my personal experiences of patient attitudes to this.
More than a couple of times during my training, I treated women who were going into premature labour, or attended the emergency department with, for example, a vaginal bleed at 35 weeks, who were upset, apologetic, embarrassed even, that they “hadn’t had time to shave” before coming to us.
These were women who were getting ready for a new baby, but had been intending to do some cosmetic hair removal of some sort prior to seeing doctors and midwives, along with all the other things they have on their schedules.
I found this deeply saddening. Who were they planning to do this for? — I ask.
I did reassure my patients always, “Don’t worry, it’s normal. Everyone has hair, it’s not a problem.”
But the patients often continued, “You shouldn’t have to see this” or “I’m not normally hairy”, or other similar comments.
We’ve got to a point where our female body ideals are unnatural, plucked, shaved, air-brushed etc – and pregnant women are pressured into this.
Perhaps worth noting that a significant proportion, perhaps the majority, of women going into labour at full term, had done some sort of hair removal – at least this is my recollection of hospital practice here in the UK.
I found this pretty shocking.
Also worth noting is that there is good evidence from orthopedic surgery that shaving prior to procedures can alter the skin flora, bacteria, etc, and predispose one to infection.
Therefore surgeons discourage shaving in advance.
And as previously noted, if the hair is really in the way, then we would shave it off ourselves at the time of surgery, then liberally apply iodine/chlorhexidine to the area.”