Pubic hair and labour

Is removal of pubic hair still recommended for women in labour?

SHAVING of the perineum on admission to the labour ward was thought to reduce the risk of infection if the woman later had an episiotomy or spontaneous perineal tear. It could also make it easier to perform any suturing required after delivery. A Cochrane review has therefore looked for evidence to support shaving as a routine practice.

Only three trials were found, involving a total of 1039 women. The trials compared women who had, or did not have, perineal shaving during labour. They all used trimming of the vulval hair as a control.

The outcomes of interest included wound infections and febrile illness in the mother or baby.

One trial found that shaving was associated with reduced colonisation by Gram-negative bacteria, but had no effect on colonisation by Gram-positive bacteria. However, all three trials reported that shaving made no significant difference