Shaving for birth used to be something that the nurses did to you when you arrived at the hospital. As doctors and midwives realized that there might be a purpose for pubic hair in preventing infection, this practice died quickly. The majority of women were really relieved. Many had felt embarrassed by being shaved, or really disliked the painful, itchy experience of it growing back.
Now the question is starting to come up again in the birth - the practice of shaving. But now, women have begun to take the razors or wax strips into their own hands. Some women are choosing to either pay to have a bikini or Brazilian wax done prior to birth.
Proponents of this practice claim that the area is neater and easier to keep clean in the postpartum. Some also claim that pubic hair bothers them when viewed by others. For other women, this is not something done specifically for the birth but in general.
A bikini wax generally removes excess hair around the mons pubis, which is where the majority of pubic hair is located, and the stray pubic hair that may grow outside of the area covered by a bikini, hence the term bikini line. The Brazilian wax removes all the hair on the mons pubis, labia, etc.
While some women don't want to go as far as a Brazilian wax or even a bikini wax, there are some who choose to trim the longer or stray hairs in preparation for labor. This can be difficult in the later months of pregnancy, simply because it's so hard to see around your pregnant belly. You can go to a fancy spa and get some help, invite your partner to help or take your chances! Trimming can be a preferred option because the hair is not painful or itching as it grows back.
As for the science behind the shaving, it was found that there is a small decrease in maternal infection rates when hair on the perineum is left in place, this is what would also be removed during a Brazilian. So for those of you who want to trim and clip or remove hair around the bikini line, you're safe and not increasing your risk of infection (assuming you don't cut yourself). For those of you who are still anti-shaving - you're fine too.
Read more: Will I have a bowel movement in labor?
Basevi V, Lavender T. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2001;(1):CD001236. Routine perineal shaving on admission in labour.