When you're in labor, chances are good you won't be thinking too much about how well-groomed your pubic hair looks. But in the months leading up to childbirth -- when your hair down there may be sprouting more quickly than you ever imagined thanks to pregnancy hormones, and your burgeoning belly can make your regular grooming regimen more complicated -- a bikini wax may seem like a grand idea. Here's what you should know before you make that spa appointment.
Bikini waxes aren't pain-free for most women even when they're not pregnant, but your increased pregnancy blood flow makes your skin even more sensitive, especially in your pubic area, explains Atlanta gynecologist Sujatha Reddy. This means more potential for in-wax pain and post-wax bruising, swelling and discomfort. You may also be more prone to getting ingrown hairs as your pubic hair starts to grow back in.
To minimize the pain and icky aftereffects, the American Pregnancy Association recommends getting your doctor's OK to use a soothing lotion before and after your wax.
Always talk to your health care provider before scheduling a wax. Though bikini waxing is safe for most expecting moms, every pregnancy is different, and your doctor can help you address any specific issues with waxing and your particular pregnancy. For example, if you have edema or high blood pressure during pregnancy, your doctor may recommend you skip waxing.
Your increased skin sensitivity may also make you more prone to post-wax skin abrasions in your stripped hair follicles. These abrasions can be germ magnets, and since skin infections in pregnancy can lead to serious problems -- including premature labor and neonatal infections -- if they go untreated, follow up your bikini wax with an antibiotic cream to reduce your infection risk, recommends Reddy. Soothe pain and help speed healing after your wax with a cool bath, since you'll probably be sore.
Schedule your bikini wax at a clean, reputable salon or spa, and ask your technician to do a test patch first so that you can gauge the pain level and check for allergic reactions. Even if you've had bikini waxes before, all those pregnancy changes can do some crazy things, so it's smart to do a preliminary check.
Let your waxing tech know ahead of time that you're expecting, since some salons may have special requirements or procedures for pregnant women. If you have a choice, Reddy recommends opting for sugar waxes, which use more natural ingredients and are less likely to cause an allergic reaction.
Old-fashioned shaving works just fine for keeping your bikini line in shape and is safe for pregnant women -- but just like waxes, you may be more likely to get ingrown hairs from bikini-line shaving maintenance while you're pregnant. Just be sure to use a moisturizing shaving gel and a new razor to avoid nicks and cuts, recommends the American Pregnancy Association. If you have trouble seeing what you're shaving with your increased belly size, consider enlisting your partner's shaving support.
Skip hair-removal creams when you're pregnant. Their active ingredients, like calcium thioglycolate and barium sulfide powder, may be safe during pregnancy, but since there's no conclusive evidence to demonstrate that they are definitely safe, it's smart to avoid the potential risk.
Similarly, there's little information about the safety of laser hair removal during pregnancy, so many doctors recommend avoiding it simply because the risk involved isn't clear.