Recently, a friend of mine, fresh from yoga at the Bellevue, overheard a conversation between two fellow gym-goers — one of whom was out-to-there pregnant. “The C-section isn’t scheduled for another couple weeks,” the mom-to-be said, “so this week are my hair and nail appointments.” Her friend nodded knowingly.
The scheduled C-section is pretty much old hat; not only have docs been ordering more cesareans than ever before (for a litany of reasons — but that’s another story), but so-called “maternal request” C-sections have given new meaning to the phrase “planned pregnancy.” And not since the days of the Latchkey Kid has a mommy trend sparked such debate. While moms, midwives and medics hash out the pros and cons of C- vs. V-births, there’s one unexpected — and undeniable — winner: the spas. It seems that given the opportunity to plan, modern moms are also taking the chance to primp.
“I’ve had two scheduled C-sections,” says J., a Bryn Mawr mom. “Both times, I went to the spa for a prenatal massage, manicure and pedicure.” She knew there’d be little time for self-maintenance after the kids — and that there would be photos, visitors, the bris. “The first time, I wanted to get my hair blown out but didn’t have time,” she says. “The second time, I knew a blowout would be pointless — you get so messy, it doesn’t matter.”
It’s not just the moms who can set B-days in their BlackBerries who are indulging in pre-baby preening. M., a Center City mom-to-be going the natural route, talked to me 10 days before her due date — and three days before her bikini wax. “I know doctors see everything, but it’s nice, when you’re there on the table, not to be totally self-conscious,” she said.
But with the element of surprise removed, women have more drive — and opportunity — to primp before the Blessed Event. “Not long ago, we mainly booked pregnant women for massage and relaxation services,” says Judi Little, general manager at Center City’s Toppers Spa and Salon. “Now we’re seeing more manis, more pedis, and more people coming in to get their hair done. Which makes sense — I can’t think of anyone who needs more pampering than a mom-to-be.” While that massage may feel good, these moms want results they can see, especially in that e-mailed-to-everyone first hospital pic.
And there are also a few practical reasons for that fresh coat of Chick Flick Cherry. “By the end, you’re so big that you don’t want to spend money on clothes,” J. points out. “The only thing you can do to pamper yourself is buy shoes and bags and get your toes done. And at that point, you’re so fat and tired that any penny you can spend to feel good about yourself is worth it.”
As for the medical/societal implications of so many scheduled births, a definitive opinion has thus far proven elusive. But it seems hard to take issue with the trend’s prettiest side effect. Think it’s shallow? M. prefers empowering. “I’m not a primper, but I’m probably going to get a pedicure,” she says. “I can be sure that something will be pretty and feminine — and right now, it’s the one thing I know I can control.”