May 13, 2008, 07:04AM

Five Foot Three

A recent article describes women who go for the full mani-pedi treatment before giving birth. Because clearly that day is all about looking good.

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Photo by remitaylor

I have never given birth-nor plan to do so anytime soon-but feel quite confident that when the day comes for me to push a cruise missile out of the barrel of a shotgun, I'm not going to be too worried about how my toenails look. But apparently, some women are.

The latest in you've-got-to-be-kidding-me trends finds expectant mothers primping for their due dates like high schoolers preparing for prom night. In a brief profile of moms-to-be, the New York Post reports that more pregnant women are spending the days and weeks leading up to their delivery date getting everything from basic manis/pedis, to Brazilian bikini waxes, hair styling and blowouts-anything to guarantee they'll look their best when the baby's head starts crowning. In some cases, vanity goes so far as to trump labor. One profiled woman got a Brazilian wax while dilated and headed straight to the hospital from the salon. Another went for the full package on the morning of her delivery-hair, manicure, pedicure-all after contractions had already begun.

While the article's author claims that such self-absorption is understandable given the extreme vulnerability that accompanies giving birth, to me it seems more like narcissism run amok. Sure, lying spread eagle on a delivery table while sweat pools over your body and your face turns bright red from huffing and puffing your way through contractions is no one's idea of a comfortable situation, but it comes with the territory. You are literally pushing new life into the world-it's okay for your hair to be flat and tangled. And although I have no experience with the process, I'd bet decent money that in the 200,000-plus years that humans have been giving birth, no one's ever said, "Man it was gross when the amniotic fluid came rushing out! And did you notice that her toenails were unpolished?"

Having a baby is arguably the most significant moment of a woman's life, a day that will be forever ingrained in her memory. But it is not a wedding, a bat mitzvah, or even a graduation. There's no expectation of beauty. No formal dress code. If anything, it is one of the few times when a woman is allowed to look tired, haggard and all out hellish. The fact that we're now taking one of the most natural experiences in human life and forcing it to conform to unrealistic and all too pervasive standards of beauty deeply disturbs me. The increased number of planned C-sections, rapid post-pregnancy weight loss and now pre-delivery primping all point to one troubling reality: we value beauty over life. As women, we're increasingly willing to subject ourselves to more and more painful and often dangerous procedures, all in the pursuit of attractiveness.
And while it's true that a pedicure or a new haircut hardly constitute dangerous procedures, anything that's done to a woman's body while she's pregnant can have unexpected effects; pregnancy hormones make everything a bit of a mystery.

Besides, it's just so unnecessary, so ridiculously vain. I don't know when I'll have children, or if I ever will. But I sure hope that if and when that day comes, my mindset is nothing like Nicolle Cannone's, who told the Post, "at least when I look back at the pictures of me holding my baby I can say-other than how beautiful my son is-Oh, what a damn good manicure that is!" If I ever have a baby, I want my fingernails to be the furthest thing from my mind.

  • i agree with claire. however, as a mother of two, i know that day of beauty will be the last uncomplicated day of beauty for a very long time. so even if it's for the wrong reasons, i say go for it. because you don't know what you're in for during the next 18+ years.

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  • You speak as if all women are completely thrilled to be a mother the instant the baby is born. Sadly, this is not the case. For many reasons, the first couple weeks after pregnancy can be the most depressing and stressful time in a woman's life, so having a little fun before the uncertainty sets in isn't a bad thing. I think its less about looking hot in the baby pics and more about embracing the chance to one last nice thing for yourself before you have to go days without showers, sleep, or alone time.

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  • All this stuff seems pretty dumb to me. If you are the kind of woman that enjoys manicures and body waxing, I'm sure you can find time after the baby comes to enjoy an hour of "alone time," unless you are a single mother with no support system at all. That would seem the more logical time to make yourself feel better about your appearance. As for Lauren, if you happen to be a mother who has suffered from post-partum depression, which is the only reason I can think that a woman would go days without a shower after having a baby, then I am truly sorry. And if that is the case, I don't think a manicure or or any form of pampering at the onset of labor, is going to make any difference in how you're feeling after the baby arrives.

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  • Getting a manicure is idiotic, because, the delivery room personnel remove the nail polish. The nails must be visible to prevent cyanosis. Jeff

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  • And just to put it out there...I don't care how clean your wax job looks, your vagina will not never look attractive while its pushing out a baby.

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  • I don't see what the problem is. Nobody minds some creative hair braiding before a prostate exam, so what's all the fuss? Seriously though, I understand a woman's desire to get pampered, but to do it for the expressed purpose of looking good during childbirth seems silly to me.

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  • I could maybe come a little closer to understanding this if it really was "a little fun" as Lauren said. However, like Claire said, these women are rushing to the salon when their contractions have already started. I'd like to see how these kids react to these stories in a few years.

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  • Claire, I applaud you for not being so shallow.

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