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OB/GYNs Answer Pregnancy Questions You’re Too Embarrassed to Ask

When it comes to pregnancy, birth, and the mysteries of postpartum, let’s face it: What to Expect When You’re Expecting doesn’t really answer all of our Qs. Sure, it’s got breastfeeding tips and a rundown of weird pregnancy symptoms, but what about the more — ahem — sensitive topics? Think: optimal pregnancy sex positions, whether your doctor is secretly judging your giant bush, or if anal sex could harm the baby. I’m not sure about you, but these aren’t exactly the standard topics my OB-GYN covers during prenatal appointments.

The thing is, moms-to-be want to know if everyone in Labor & Delivery  will be grossed out if they shit on the table during birth or if their partner will be scarred for life by watching the delivery. We’re already anxious enough about the idea of raising a human — the least we could get is an honest answer on whether we need to book that pre-labor wax. 

Naturally, the best move is usually to skip the pregnancy books and the deranged forums and just ask your doctor directly. Board-certified Ob-Gyn and founder of Sterling Parents, Christine Noa Sterling, MD, FACOG, tells Betches it’s key to remember your medical team has literally seen it all. “We deal with sex and anatomy day in and day out — it’s the bread and butter of our specialty,” she stresses. “You really can ask us anything. It’s not embarrassing for us because we approach it all from a very clinical, sex-positive perspective.”

That said, there’s something about looking your doctor in the eye and asking if 15 vibrator-induced orgasms in a row could give your baby brain damage or if it’s fine to let your pubes grow long enough to braid. It might feel a bit awkward, but don’t sweat it. I reached out to birthing professionals to get the answers to your most embarrassing pregnancy and postpartum questions so you can keep your sex secrets to yourself during those cervical checks.

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How Common Is It To Shit on the Delivery Room Table?

If you’ve been stressing about shitting on the table (literally), let’s get something out of the way: There’s a good chance it’ll happen. Gynecologic surgeon, Ob-Gyn, and Playground’s Medical Advisor, Shyama Mathews, MD, says it’s “very common” to poop during vaginal delivery. “When uterine contractions start, they can stimulate the bowels to empty. And, when you’re pushing the baby out, whatever is in the rectum gets squeezed out, too,” she explains. “I know it’s hard to believe, but actually, it means you are pushing well! We often coach patients to push like they are trying to poop.”

Even though it might seem like The Most Embarrassing Thing Ever, your healthcare team literally DGAF about your bowel movements. “If it does happen, they work quickly to clean things up and often won’t even tell you,” says the nurse practitioner and medical advisor at WispAndrea Sleeth, APRN. “They are so focused on the larger picture — delivering your baby safe and sound.” 

Is There Any Way to *Avoid* Pooping During Birth?

I get it. No matter how ~natural & normal~ it is, you’d rather, like, not shit yourself in front of your partner/mom/entire room full of Grey’s Anatomy wannabes. If you want the odds to be in your favor, the experts suggest eating lots of fruits and veggies in the days leading up to birth (so your bowels are regular, helping you clear everything out before it’s time to push). “If labor is slow to set in or you have a scheduled induction, you could do an enema the night before,” Dr. Mathews says, but this isn’t a guarantee and might not get approved by your team. 

Honestly, as someone who *did* poop on the delivery table during birth, I have to tell you: It’s legit the last thing you’re going to be worried about at the time. I wasn’t even sure if I did until my mom eagerly informed the whole room that “a little poop ball came out” as I pushed. Thanks, Mom! 

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What’s the Deal with Vagina Tearing?

Few things terrified me more than the concept of my vagina ripping open during birth. I had no idea what it truly meant (would I look down and see a giant gash), but I straight up HATED the possibility of it happening. Since knowledge is power or whatever, here’s the deal:

“When someone tears, we’re talking about a tear in the wall between the vagina and the anus from pushing in labor,” Dr. Mathews explains. “There are different degrees of tears: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th. A first-degree is very minimal tearing of the vaginal wall; these are sometimes barely noticeable. Second and third-degree tears involve progressively deeper layers of the vaginal wall, extending even to the sphincter muscles that surround the anus. A fourth-degree tear is all the way through. And yes, that’s a big ole rip, unfortunately. But! Your doctor is trained to repair these layer by layer, and they usually heal pretty well.” A year later, I can confirm: The vag works just as well as it did pre-rip! 

Sounds Awful — How Can I Prevent Vaginal Tears?

Preventing vaginal tearing during birth seems as important as buying a Snoo or getting your nursery ready. But unfortunately, just like with shitting the bed, Ob-Gyn and medical advisor at Flo HealthTiffany Pham, MD, says there’s no surefire way to prevent lacerations. “Studies show that you can reduce your risk of tearing by applying warm compresses to the perineum while you push or give yourself perineal massages with evening primrose oil in the weeks leading up to birth,” she explains. Still, up to 80% of people experience a tear during delivery (myself included!), so there’s a decent chance you’ll be rocking some hoo-ha stitches. 

The good news is that you likely won’t be able to see the stitches, and with everything else going on, you won’t really pay much attention to your ripped vag. Dr. Mathews adds that seeing a pelvic floor therapist during your pregnancy and postpartum can help prepare your undercarriage and assist in recovery, but the best thing you can do is trust your doctor and listen to their instructions on when to push and when to hold back. 

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Is the Whole Room Judging Whether or Not I Shaved?

As someone who grew up in the era of “bare or GTFO,”  I straight-up panicked when I could no longer see my vagina to shave it, and I had to just let it grow out. I know doctors said they didn’t care about my ‘70s bush, but like, did they?

Turns out: No. They actually don’t at all. “How much or little hair you have down there should absolutely be a personal preference. Your doc honestly does not care because we’ve seen it all,” Dr. Mathews says. “It really doesn’t get in the way during regular visits. During a vaginal delivery, if the hair is in the way during something like fixing a tear, your doctor will just trim it back for a better view.”

Will My Vagina Ever Be The Same Again After Having a Baby?

To put it more eloquently, will it be like throwing a hot dog down a hallway post-birth? While you’ll typically be cleared for sex six to eight weeks postpartum, you shouldn’t expect things to feel ~normal~ at that point. “The vagina is made up of several layers that include mucosal tissue, smooth muscle tissue, collagen, and elastin fibers, which allow it to expand and stretch to accommodate for activities like penetrative sex or the passage of a baby during childbirth,” Dr. Pham explains. “There are some small studies that suggest that while there might be some stretching of the opening of the vagina and/or vaginal laxity associated following childbirth, it does not affect sexual function or satisfaction.”

And if you’re bothered by a slightly looser vag — which, by the way, is well-earned and not a big deal — Dr. Mathews suggests visiting a pelvic floor therapist. They can help you re-engage and strengthen those pelvic floor muscles.

Is it Safe to Have Sex — Like *All* Types of Sex — While Pregnant?

If you’re one of those people whose pregnancy symptoms include a raging libido (lucky), figuring out what types of sex you can have is key. First of all, yes, using your favorite vibrator and receiving oral sex should basically be part of your prenatal care. But what about penetration? Will doggy style poke the babe’s eye out? Will missionary smoosh your kiddo? Dr. Pham says as long as your doctor didn’t put you on pelvic rest, things feel comfortable, and you’re not, like, letting your partner put their full weight on your stomach, you should be fine. 

“The penis/toy doesn’t reach or touch the baby because the cervix acts as a barrier,” Dr. Pham explains. Anal sex is also totally fine, but if you have constipation or hemorrhoids, it might not be the most comfortable. “Avoid switching to vaginal penetrative sex right after anal sex because you do not want to introduce the bacteria from the rectum into the vaginal environment,” she adds. “And if you have certain complications in your pregnancy where your doctor may recommend you avoid vaginal penetrative sex, you should also avoid anal as well.”

Is It Normal That I Hate Having Sex while Pregnant?

I know pregnancy apps make it seem like everyone’s a horndog when they’re knocked up, but unfortunately for our partners, not everyone gets the raging libido pregnancy symptom. “Hormones are all over the place, and they can have different effects for different people,” Dr. Mathews explains. “It’s very normal not to want to have sex during pregnancy and the postpartum period. You’re uncomfortable, your body feels foreign, and your system is going through a lot.”

While Dr. Pham says about 50% of couples resume sex within four months after childbirth, it can take up to a year for the desire to return for others. “Things can be very sensitive down there for a while,” Dr. Mathew explains, “And your hormone levels will be different, especially if you’re breastfeeding.” It’s those annoying AF hormones that often lead to vaginal dryness, which makes sex kind of feel like rubbing sandpaper on your genitals. She recommends a quality lube to reduce friction and make sex more comfortable (FWIW: my fav is Playground’s Date Night).

“Remember, sex is good for you,” Dr. Mathews says. “It can relieve stress, increase relaxation, improve sleep, and boost happiness.” It just might take some time to reconnect with your sexual self.” If you’re not ready for penetrative sex, try sensual touch, mutual masturbation, or locking yourself in the bathroom with the showerhead on full blast. Whatever works!

Is It Annoying to Have Playlists, Candles, Etc. in the Delivery Room?

Okay, so candles are (duh) a no-go in hospitals due to safety risks, but what about other personal comfort items like playlists or scent diffusers? Are they a cute addition or painfully cringe? Both Sleeth and Dr. Pham affirm that such elements can significantly enhance comfort and create a calming atmosphere during labor. “It’s not annoying at all; it’s your experience, and we support whatever helps you feel at ease,” says Dr. Mathews. “We aim for your birth to be memorable and positive, as long as it doesn’t interfere with medical care.” So go on, blast that embarrassing labor playlist to your heart’s desire — it’s your fucking day. 

Will My Partner Be Scarred For Life if They Watch the Delivery?

Obvi childbirth isn’t for the faint of heart — it’s real, raw, and yes, there will be blood. But scarring for life? Unlikely. (Well, unlikely for them. You might end up with some, like, actual physical scars, though). “Childbirth is incredibly bonding and beautiful. It’s usually life-changing in a good way,” Sleeth reassures. If your partner is the queasy type, keep a chair handy so they can take a seat if things get too intense (and maybe save your eye-rolling for after the contractions). Ultimately, though, they’ll likely be glad they got a front-row view. 

Dr. Mathews says prenatal classes are a great way to prepare for the joy and gore of the birthing process, not to mention the whole “raising another human for the rest of your life” thing. Tbh, if watching the baby be born freaks your S.O. out, just wait until your little bundle of joy hits puberty!

Rachel Varina
Rachel Varina
Formerly one of the HBICs at Total Sorority Move (RIP), Rachel Varina has a long history of writing about things that make her parents ashamed. She's an avid lover of holding grudges, sitting down, and buffalo chicken dip. Currently, she lives in Tampa, Florida, but did not feed her husband to tigers. And even though she's married (with a *gasp* baby), she doesn't suck. Promise. PROMISE! Follow her on Instagram and Twitter (@rachelvarina) so she gets more followers than that influencer her husband dated in high school.