There are many discussions about the do’s and don’ts of what to wear in labour – including on your fingernails.
Nail polish can seem harmless enough and a pedicure towards the end of your pregnancy can be a nice way to put your feet up and relax.
There are times when nail polish is not suitable for labour and many women have asked why they should consider removing nail polish especially when they have spent a lot of money getting their nails done. The policies will vary slightly between hospitals regarding nail polish but most hospitals will have preferred procedures.
There are two main reasons why women will be asked to remove nail polish:
Firstly, in hospitals we try to minimise the risk of infection, hence the meticulous attention to hand washing by staff. There are some schools of thought that the wearing of nail polish will increase the risk of surgical infection especially with chipped nail polish. Studies have shown that the wearing of artificial nails is a problem with higher microbial counts under artificial nails than under natural nails.
Secondly, during surgery a finger probe or ‘pulse oxymeter’ is placed on all patients to detect the level of oxygenation in the blood. The nail bed is one of the best places to detect any bluish discolouration caused by low oxygen levels (cyanosis) where a visual guide is used in addition to relying on the pulse oxymeter.
At St Vincent’s Private, if you have nail polish on during labour and then have to go for an unplanned Caesarian Section your nail polish will need to be removed. Usually this will first be the polish on your finger nails and if time permits the toe nails. It can be difficult to remove false nails so we suggest you leave those until after your baby is born.