health

The last person you'd expect in the delivery room.

Who do you want close by when you’re giving birth?

Your obstetrician?

Your partner?

Oh, and maybe your hairstylist, to make sure you look good in that first post-birth photo. Right?

The New York Times recently ran a story about a new birthing trend among well-to-do women: having a hairstylist and sometimes also a make-up artist on hand, to get them looking their best immediately after having a baby.

When lawyer Donna Yip was in labour, she had stylist Jackson Simmonds standing in the hallway. As soon as baby Caroline Rose came into the world, Simmonds entered the delivery room, where his curling iron, hairdryer and brushes were already waiting for him.

“It’s not like the full-on blowout you would have in a salon, for logistical reasons,” he says. “Nonetheless, it comes out looking good.”

Hair salons near maternity hospitals in New York are reporting a rise in the number of requests for stylists to make hospital visits.

Photos of stylish new mums – like Kate Middleton looking glamorous when leaving the hospital after the birth of baby Charlotte – are thought to be the reason behind the trend. Because most women want to post their pics on social media, to be seen by family, friends and co-workers.

They want to look as good as possible.

Great hair. No denying it. Image via Getty.
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Patti Wilson, who works as a director of photography at a magazine, is planning to book a hairstylist for her upcoming delivery.

“This is a moment where it’s one of those milestones," she says. "I’ll feel better if it’s blown out, and in pictures it will look better.”

Salon owner John Barrett thinks a post-birth hairstyling treatment is "good for the psyche".

“It’s really important that you feel good, that you don’t look in the mirror and say, ‘Oh, my God,’ because having a baby is like running a marathon," he says. "Just feeling ‘I look normal’ afterward is such a nice thing.”

Not that he's speaking from personal experience, you'd assume.

I have photos of myself immediately after I gave birth to my son. I didn't look normal. I didn't feel normal. I mean, I'd just pushed an entire human out of my vagina. I felt fantastic.

I look at those photos now. They show me, in my baggy pyjamas, with my messy hair and no makeup, lying on my side, staring into my baby's eyes, while he stares into mine. That's all I wanted to do after I gave birth: look at my baby. I didn't want anyone fiddling with my hair. I love those photos, because they remind me of how I felt at the time.

Here's a video of a mum giving birth without a hairstylist present. Post continues after the video.

Sure, having a baby is a bit like running a marathon, I guess. (Not that I would have a clue, because I've never run much more than 100m.) You don't see a crowd of hairstylists and makeup artists hanging around at the finishing line. We want to see photos of runners looking sweaty and messy because they've just run a marathon. It's not normal. It's exhausting and fantastic, like giving birth.

My biggest worry with this trend is that new mums are setting themselves impossibly high standards. You have to let go of perfect when you bring a baby into your life.

There's vomit and there's liquid poo, in quantities you would never have believed possible.

There's all sorts of leakage that no one tells you about beforehand. You will not always look perfect and your baby will not always look perfect and your house will probably not look perfect again for a very long time. That's okay. The sooner you take that pressure off yourself, the easier you will find those early months.

Then again, maybe one glamorous photo is exactly what you need before you descend into the swamps of vomit and poo.

Would you want a hairstylist in the delivery room?

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