Pregnant Moms Primp for Cameras, Smartphones

VIDEO: Dr. Sherri Levin on why moms-to-be want to look good.
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Dr. Kristina Collins, a resident in dermatology at Harvard University, answered the frantic phone call from the hospital maternity ward. A new mother in her 30s had an emergency acne outbreak -- would the doctor come and treat her?

"She had basically delivered that day and was worried because of all the post-partum photographs she was expected to take," said Collins. "She was worried about her appearance, really worried and distressed."

"We usually get more serious, life-threatening things," said Collins.

Her patient is one of a new breed of expectant mothers who are delivering their babies in the age of the Internet. Social networking has turned what once used to be private moments of joy into worldwide events.

Comedian Joan Rivers once joked, "Just knock me out and wake me when the hairdresser gets here."

Now pregnant women are paying attention.

They primp and preen for the smart phones and digital video recorders that will broadcast the child birth immediately to sites like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

Cameras came into labor and delivery rooms along with the fathers, beginning in the 1960s and especially in the 1970s, according to Judith Leavitt, author of "Make Room For Daddy" and University of Wisconsin medical historian.

"But I didn't find women worrying about how they looked for family pictures," she said.

"I think it's probably due to the advent of social media," said Erica Schietinger of The Spa at Chelsea Piers in New York City, which has a prenatal massage package that includes a facial, manicure and pedicure. "You have a baby and the photos are up on Facebook before the baby is even clean."

Talk about the posh push. A new generation of beauty-conscious women, many of whom have planned Caesarians, begin well before delivery day.

Besides the designer layette, they will stuff their Vera Bradley diaper bags with eye shadow, mascara, foundation, concealer and bronzer. Some will even arrange to have a hairdresser accompany them to the hospital.

"Moms want to absolutely look good for the delivery," said Dr. Toni Golen, medical director of labor and delivery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

"They have wanted this for a long time, but with social media, it's become more public and it's not enough to look great for one snapshot in a family album but you want to good for the whole world."

The phenomenon has evolved over time, as has the digital camera, according to Golen.

"A generation ago, a woman expecting a child was alone in a hospital room," she said. "Now, she is surrounded by family and friends. Today those friends are virtual."

Photos on Facebook for Family n Norway

"When Facebook and Twitter really become part of people's lives, childbirth is really just one of those major events in a woman's life. Just as their grandmother would send a telegram, new moms are sharing the happy news over the Internet."

One of her patients, Britt Days, bought an iPhone expressly for the event. She delivered her daughter Erika on Tuesday and photos immediately went online.

"All my extended family is in Norway," said Days, 36, who is a first-generation American.

"I just think it's great to be able to get news of her out so quickly to everyone I know," she said. "I didn't have to make a call, talk to someone for 10 minutes and then talk to someone else. I just put her picture of her on my Facebook page and a video of her looking around."

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