It’s a question so many moms-to-be wonder about: to shave or not to shave before birth? While many midwives and other experts say the decision should be left up to the mom – some hospitals, like Netcare, specifically ask their patients not to shave before any procedure – including the delivery of their baby.
Dr Caroline Maslo, senior clinical advisor and head of infection control of Netcare’s hospital division explains why:
- Shaving down there can potentially introduce additional infection risk.
- Several studies and reviews of the literature have shown that the incidence of surgical site infection (SSI) is higher when hair removal is performed with a razor, as compared with clippers, and most studies support that hair removal, if any, should be done immediately before the operation.
- American and European guidelines recommend not removing hair, unless it will interfere with the operation. When hair removal is considered necessary, it should be performed by clipping before surgery, and not shaving with a razor.
- Although the use of depilatory hair removal creams have been associated with a lower SSI risk in some studies, depilatories sometimes produce hypersensitivity skin reactions and are therefore not considered ideal.
Netcare’s Principles for Surgical Patients, including maternity patients, therefore stipulate that:
- Patients must not shave themselves or use hair removal creams prior to admission or surgery.
- Where hair removal is deemed necessary, only clippers should be used. In such instances, this hair removal should only be done within two hours of the procedure, and not within the theatre.
- Where hair removal by clipping is required, the patient will then need to shower to reduce the risk of bacterial contamination of the surgical site.
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day. Learn more about Xanet Scheepers.