Before I get into the specifics of this question, I want you to consider that your decisions regarding your looks during labor should be totally based on your feelings about yourself, and not on how you think others might judge you. Anyone around you during birth will be so in awe of what you’re doing they won’t give a hoot what you look like. You’ll look like a goddess to all who lay eyes on you, even if your hair is a mess and you’re covered in sweat.
With that said, I definitely wouldn’t bother with makeup (no matter how much you love it), as it will probably end up running down your face when you sweat, get into water, or cry. Regarding your hair, I can almost guarantee it will also get mussed up during labor. But because the undoing of the hairdo won’t cause anything to run down your face or sting your eyes, there’s no harm in doing your hair beforehand, especially if it ups your confidence and provides a distraction during early labor.
Something I would do during early labor is take a shower — if you have the time. And I would go all in with that shower: wash your hair, shave your legs, exfoliate your butt. Do whatever you need to do to feel super fresh. I did not do this before I went to the hospital to birth Hudson, and I remember many moments of feeling grimy. No one seemed to notice my griminess (nor would I have cared if they did), but I didn’t like the feeling — it was distracting. If you’re wondering why I didn’t just take a shower while in labor, the answer is that I had to use every drop of my mental and physical facilities to move through each contraction — there was nothing left for shampooing.
What to do
As mentioned, let’s skip the makeup, only do the hair if you really, really want to, and say yes to a shower. Regarding photos, if you’ve hired a birth photographer or would like your partner or doula to take photos, and you are concerned about what you’ll look like in the photos, there are a few things you can do to prepare:
Become one with raw images. Consider that you might enjoy having photos that capture the unfiltered realness of your birth experience, wild hair and all. Of course, if that’s not your thing, no worries. Just be your brand of Beauty.
Ask your photographer to check in before taking a photo. Setting this parameter lets you decide in the moment whether the taking of the photos will make you too aware of how you look, distracting you from the task at hand. Or you might decide that you don’t care how you look and are happy to have them capture some of these once-in-a- lifetime moments as is.
Request touch-ups. If the photographer is someone you feel really comfortable with, ask them to touch you up before they start snapping. For example, they can push the hair off your forehead, readjust your robe, or move the barf bag out of the frame.
Bring beauty basics. When you get to the blissful period when baby is in your arms, you might want makeup applied before taking the shots that’ll be texted and posted. You might also want a hair touch-up. If you think this is something you’ll desire, pack a bathroom bag with a hand mirror, hairbrush, and your makeup essentials (e.g., some concealer, blush, and mascara), so your birth companion can easily retrieve the goods while you bond with baby.