The true and messy portrayal of childbirth is, even in 2018, something radical.
Search #givingbirth on Instagram and you will find images of exhausted mothers, babies to their chest, peaceful, relieved and, more than anything, clean. There are few shots of women in labour and in pain. There is no blood. Sweat is difficult to see with the often-used black-and-white filter. And the baby is always washed.
The picture-perfect trend means the post-birth Instagram picture has never been so popular. It’s become an everyday part of the birthing ritual and, with its rise, the habit of upping appearances has also emerged.
Namely: More and more women are wearing makeup to give birth in a bid to enhance that ‘first family photo’.
Recently a mum-to-be posted on the Netmums’ parenting forum sharing her childbirth makeover plans. She wished to have her hair styled before labour; give herself a fake tan the day before she was due to be induced; and deliver her child with a full face of makeup.
“A few of my family members think I’m absolutely mad for wanting my makeup, tan, lashes and hair done for giving birth,” the forum user Tami wrote, News Corp reports.
Listen: Planning on giving birth? Here’s what you’ll need for the first three days with a newborn. Post continues below.
Other advice columns tout eyelash extensions as a ‘must have’ for childbirth. “The thing that’s going to be seen in all your pictures is your face. This is why you should get eyelash extensions,” television and radio host Faith Salie wrote in 2012 for the Huffpost.
The Bump’s forum ‘Getting Glam for the Delivery Room’ is filled with anecdotes from new mothers who swear by doing just that.
“I waxed, gave myself a pedicure and dyed my hair and got it trimmed before the birth,” one woman told the website.
“I’m so glad I did my hair and makeup and wore some bling. I got so many compliments from people saying that I looked good and that my makeup looked professionally done. It made me feel better, even though I really felt terrible!” another said.
In 2015, a hairstylist told Today he and his team in New York City frequently receive calls from women hoping to have their hair blown out immediately after childbirth before any photographs are taken. “We always see that one picture where the mother is in bed holding the baby,” Joel Warren told Today. “And there’s no reason to look awful at that moment, when you can look good so easily.”
And, perhaps the most extreme example is that of New York-based makeup artist, Alaha Karimi, whose birth story went viral in 2016 after she posted pictures of herself putting on makeup between contractions and then holding her newborn with a red carpet-worthy dose of winged eyeliner.