I have heard many women talk about their lack of modesty in labor. The intensity of labor and birth often breaks down social and cultural norms of privacy and modesty. It is acceptable to be less modest during birth if you feel comfortable. You do not have to give up your modesty. You can work with your care providers to ensure as much privacy and modesty as you need and want.
Another thing to consider is if you would like a chaperone during sensitive examinations such as cervical exams. If your nurse or physician is male, a second care provider will commonly accompany him during the exam. This does not always occur, but you can request a second person at any time. You may request a chaperone no matter what the gender of your care provider. Routinely female nurses will not seek out a chaperone. You will need to make your wishes known. Women do not need to explain the reason they feel uncomfortable with only one provider at the exam. Empowering women to request a chaperone is supported by the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetrics and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). AWHONN’s position statement details who is an appropriate chaperone. Factors that contribute to the decision to have a chaperone are also included. It is up to you if your support people are present during these sensitive times.
My advice: Read the position statement. What are your preferences? Discuss your feelings with your support person. Include your preference in your birth plan.
Remember that you can change your mind and modify your birth plan at anytime. If you did not plan on having a chaperone and during labor discover that you would like one, speak up! If you planned on utilizing a chaperone and once you are in labor you decide that extra person is not needed, let your nurse know. Some hospitals require a second provider to attend during sensitive exams. If this is not acceptable to you then accommodations can be made. For example, ask for the second person to stand behind the curtain. Communication with your physician and nurse will be key to your experience. Speak up, ask questions and let your preferences be known.