Pregnant women

When you’re pregnant, there's advice everywhere you turn, but what about those tricky, slightly icky or just plain wacky questions you’re dying to ask?

Luckily, the Mother & Baby team of experts can answer them all…

1. Should I neaten up my bikini line before giving birth?


“In the old days, the midwife used to shave every woman as they came in to have their baby. They said it was because the doctor might need to do an episiotomy and it would make it easier to repair the cut. Nowadays, it’s all personal preference.

"Thankfully episiotomies are rare and I’ve never seen a doctor or midwife have a problem working around a little pubic hair if needed. Nobody is going to raise an eyebrow if you have a full thatch or a Brazilian (or even a runway strip), so do what makes you feel the most comfortable.

Caesarean-wise, you do get the area above your closed legs shaved, to help make the area cleaner.”

2. Will I have to have lots of internal examinations during labour and the birth?


“Vaginal examinations should be limited during labour. An examination is usually performed when you arrive in hospital. After that, an examination is performed each two to four hours to assess progress.

"Interventions such as breaking the waters require an internal examination and more frequent examinations may be needed if there is concern about the baby’s health or if you are progressing quickly.

"Most women find vaginal examinations uncomfortable, so do talk to your midwife or doctor about them. Sometimes understanding why the examination is being done can be very helpful.”

3. What do I need to wear when giving birth? Will I be naked?


“Thankfully we live in a country where birthing rooms are private so you can wear what you want or nothing at all. Sarongs work well because you can lift a flap and the midwife can listen to your baby when you’re standing or sitting.

"Swimming tops or crop tops are great in the shower if you are shy about your breasts. In the hospital where I work, most women choose to be naked in the shower, and their men have board shorts on.

"Towards the end of labour, clothing can become a nuisance, and even the shyest of us sometimes throw off the lot. Just remember that babies love skin to skin contact after birth for that first hour, but you will have a cover over the top of both of you.”

4. Will my husband go off sex if he’s looking from the business end during the birth?


“History certainly suggests that the answer is no. Having said that, it is important to recognise that all men are not the same and while some men will be fascinated by the whole process, others might find it confronting.

"It is important to have the discussion beforehand and to ensure he knows what to expect. But in over 20 years of general practice I have never known a man to lose his sex drive after witnessing a delivery.”

5. Am I likely to poo during labour and if I do, what will the midwife do?


“Women do occasionally poo at the time of birth but nature usually sends you to the toilet during early labour and sorts that out. When your baby comes through the birth canal there’s no room for anything else. It’s a close fit. But in this day and age of plastic gloves and disposable everything, it’s not a problem and your midwife won’t be fazed.”

6. I’ve heard having gas and oxygen during labour can make you loopy. Is this likely and will I say something embarrassing?


“In labour you’re using gas and air (also known as Entonox) to help you focus and take the edge off the waves of contraction discomfort. Gas is a good option if you’re finding it hard to breathe calmly through a contraction, because it can be all that’s needed to get you focussed again. If you’re a bit giggly, your support people will be relieved you can still smile. Some women think it’s great, others don’t.”

7. Am I likely to have stitches after giving birth and how many is normal?


“The amount of stitches you have varies so much even between hospitals, but in my experience there’s more chance you won’t have any if you listen to your midwife at the end of labour and stretch slowly.

"If you do tear or have an episiotomy, a local anaesthetic is given to numb the area before the stitches, but you’ll be thinking more about your baby while all this is happening. The stitches will dissolve over the next few days.”

8. How much will I bleed after birth – is it anything like a regular period?


“Immediately following the birth, you will most likely have quite heavy bleeding, often containing clots. Women who have had a caesarean delivery usually have less, but after a vaginal delivery you will need to be changing your pad every couple of hours or so for the first few days.

"The bleeding decreases over the first week but usually continues for up to four weeks, changing in colour from bright red to brownish red. If the bleeding has been diminishing and then gets heavier, it’s best to get checked by your doctor.”

9. I’m worried my waters will break in public. If that happens, what should I do?


“For 90 percent of women, that’s not going to happen. For the others, keep a towel in the car, and be proud – everyone around you will be excited!

"Trickles you can deal with, but a big gush will probably fill your shoes. There’s not a lot you can do except mop up with something big and get yourself home.

"Ring your midwife and let her know it’s happened, what colour the fluid is and how much there is. She’ll tell you when to come in, as your pains will probably be starting soon.”

10. Will sex ever feel the same again?


“It will seem hard to believe straight after you have your baby but yes, your sex life will return. Of course you have to allow time for the area to heal, especially if you had tearing and stitches.

"You can help speed up the healing process with pelvic floor exercises that not only assist the return of muscle tone but also promote blood flow to the area.

"By the six-week mark most women feel ready to try sex again. Be aware that the first time you have sex after the delivery it is likely you will be a bit anxious about whether it will hurt and this can affect your ability to lubricate. Try to anticipate this and perhaps use some water-based lubricant.

"Also, if you don’t want to fall pregnant again, make sure you are using some form of contraception. Finally, if you continue to find sex painful or uncomfortable, see your doctor.