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The Real Scoop on Labor

Waxing necessities and the truth about episiotomies

Q. A few of my friends got a full-monty wax job before they delivered. I can't imagine that, even if I weren't pregnant. Is it really necessary?

A. There is a trend toward vaginal shaving and waxing among women, especially younger ones, in our society in general, but it's hardly something you need to do if you're not inclined, assures Buxton. In the more primitive days of childbirth (like only a few decades ago), women were routinely shaved and given an enema when they were admitted to the hospital. The logic: It provided a more hygienic environment for delivery. Fortunately, that attitude went the way of leaving dads out in the waiting room. Waxing isn't necessary and certainly doesn't matter to your doctor.

Q. I've heard the pain relievers can make you nauseous. What if I start to throw up on top of everything else coming out of my body?

A. Some pain relievers can, and likely will, make you nauseous, most notably the analgesic family, also known as narcotics, which includes Demerol, Nubain, and Stadol. These medications don't remove your pain, but "dull" it instead. If you're prone to queasiness, you may want to pass on them altogether, or ask for an antinausea medication to be given with them. An epidural can sometimes cause your blood pressure to drop, which can leave you feeling a bit light-headed and therefore queasy. But bear in mind that not having any type of anesthesia doesn't guarantee that you won't vomit. You know how they say contractions come in waves? Normal, active labor alone is enough to make some women spill their guts. That's one of the reasons why women are advised not to eat much after labor begins. But here's an unexpected plus: The same reflex that causes you to vomit helps push the baby out. "I've had moms-to-be who were only four or five centimeters dilated; then they vomit and suddenly hit ten centimeters," notes Buxton.

Q. Will I still be the same "down there" when this is all over? Even if I have an episiotomy?

A. Trust us: You're probably not going to be too worried about this right after having the baby. Sex will not be nearly as enticing as sleep, and when you begin to feel amorous again, all will be healed and you will have had time to perform a gazillion Kegels to regain your muscle tone, if you're that motivated. As for the tightness factor, if your episiotomy or tears are repaired well and you exercise to get your muscle tone back, especially between pregnancies, your pelvic floor should return to normal, insists Dr. Abello. Sex can feel different at first because scar tissue may need some stretching, but take it slowly and gently and the pleasure will return. Buxton recommends doing Kegels while nursing your baby -- not only to regain muscle tone, but because they promote blood flow, which will help your perineum heal. And remember: There are other ways to be intimate when you're not in the mood for sex.

Babytalk contributing editor Stephanie Wood is a freelance writer and mom of three in Blauvelt, New York.