When the Push Present Comes Before the Baby (Also It's From Myself)

Push Present pregnany woman being pampered illustration UNI
Paula Boudes

Before giving birth to my daughter, I booked a haircut and told my hairdresser to take a little more off than usual. “I’m due in two weeks,” I explained to her (as if it wasn’t obvious that I was about to pop any second), “so I probably won’t be back here for another six months or so.” She kindly obliged and let me know that my new curtain bangs would grow out nicely and require minimal upkeep.

I gave the same spiel to my dentist, and also treated myself to a fancy pedicure knowing full well that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy a full hour to myself for a while (this was my second kid, so I was familiar with the all-consuming haze of the newborn phase). 

And sure, my prenatal self-care circuit may sound a little OTT, but it’s by no means unique. In a highly unscientific poll, I asked two separate mom groups and some trusted work colleagues about their pre-birth regimens and every single parent reported getting some type of beauty treatment in the weeks leading up to their due date. The most common procedure was a mani/pedi, followed by a haircut, a massage (although the consensus here was that prenatal massages are more like body rubs, aka pointless), a facial and yes, even a wax. 

“Before I had my first baby, I was (rightfully) anxious that once she came, I wouldn't have time to do anything,” a work colleague and mom-of-one told me. “There were so many things I wanted to do, but it was early covid, pre-vaccines, and it felt reckless to sit in a salon and indulge in a mani and pedi. And yet...that did not stop me from getting a bikini wax. I knew once I got too big, it would be impossible to saddle a table on my own. So, at 35 weeks pregnant, after an OBGYN appointment, I stopped by a European Wax Center disguised (dual purpose) in a full-blown N-95 mask and got what I wished for. I pulled myself onto the table like a beached whale and said to the specialist, ‘Oh, and I'm pregnant, if that changes anything’ She looked at me like, ‘Yeah, no shit’ and then went to town. Another word was not spoken. I was terrified I would pee on her. I was terrified the first wax strip would put me into early labor and then I'd have to explain myself. But it was quick, and once I was done, I felt like I got a huge to-do off my list. I think that's the last time I've been able to go, actually.”

Fueled by this uncertainty about what’s to come (or in my case, a vague recollection of being too gross/tired to go to the grocery store, let alone hit the salon), moms-to-be are adding haircuts and manicures to their to-do lists in the lead-up to their due date, right after installing the car seat and washing those newborn onesies. 

“It’s like I was anticipating feeling slummy and unshowered and messy and not myself, so I tried to cling to those little bits of self-care beforehand,” my friend, a mom-of-three in California, revealed, adding that she got a haircut and a wax a few weeks before delivering her babies. 

And all this prenatal self-care isn’t just limited to beauty. Two days before my daughter was born, my husband and I went out for a date night. As we chatted about our son, the food and work, I couldn’t help but point out that this would likely be our last date night for many months. (To be clear: I’m not saying that once you have a baby then you can’t go out anymore, but in our particular circumstance—no family nearby, all our close friends have their hands full with their own children, no sitters with baby experience—I was just being realistic.) 

While it’s tempting to chalk up this mass movement of prenatal pedicures and last suppers to women simply wanting to treat themselves while they can, I think it’s more than that. All this self-care is a modern-day ritual that acknowledges this unique time in a woman’s life and the challenges that lie ahead. 

In the last few years, there has been a lot of attention given to “push presents.” Kim Kardashian famously received a million dollar diamond choker after the birth of Saint West, and even Kate Middleton received gifts from Prince William after the birth of her children (a limited edition teddy and diamond earrings). Just a few weeks ago, one NYC mom revealed on TikTok that she got a Chanel push present…from her hospital. These gifts are meant to be given post-delivery as a recognition of the hard work and pain that comes with childbirth (be it vaginal or Cesarean). But these presents aren’t without controversy, with critics claiming that the newborn baby is gift enough. 

Wherever you stand on the issue, there’s no denying that the idea of treating new moms post-birth is well established. But what about treating yourself before baby? Because as it turns out, women are already sneaking in some self-care beforehand, so I say let’s embrace and celebrate this practice—not as something we need to feel ashamed about or something that we should rush through. Rather, let’s treat this moment as a rite of passage, something that every women can—and should—do for themselves, whether it be getting a haircut, going to the movies by yourself, wiling away an afternoon shoe shopping (just kidding, don’t do that to your poor swollen feet), or something else entirely. The point is to recognize this time before a new life enters the picture as something special, and honor it as such—even if that’s with a bikini wax.  

There’s a Problem with How Women—Including Me—Talk About Pregnancy

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Executive Editor

Alexia Dellner is an executive editor at PureWow who has over ten years of experience covering a broad range of topics including health, wellness, travel, family, culture and...