Best Hairstyles for Labor and Delivery

You’ve prepped your birth plan and packed your hospital bag—but have you thought about how you’ll wear your hair for labor? Consider these cute, enduring styles.
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Updated July 23, 2021
Smiling woman wearing her hair in braided twists.
Image: Eugenio Marongiu / Getty Images

The day you share your first family photo to the virtual world, all eyes will be on your newborn—and then they’ll be on you. The truth is, to everyone else, you’ll look beautiful. While you may be sweaty and exhausted from labor, people will focus on the joy and pride you’ll no doubt be radiating. But if you want your hair to help enhance that new mom glow for your first photos with baby post-birth, you may want to choose a hairstyle that can go the distance. Hard up for ideas? Keep reading for options that’ll work for a variety of hair types.

How Pregnancy and Childbirth Affect Your Hair

Tons of changes happen to your body during pregnancy, even before your baby bump is visible. An increase of hormones can affect not only your mood and appetite but also your hair. Every woman is different, though, so while one woman may experience drier hair, another may have more oily hair. Changes in the moisture, curl pattern or texture of your hair may make it difficult to rely on the styles that worked pre-pregnancy. Even if, over the course of your pregnancy, you’ve found ways to keep your hair up and away from your face most of the day, a cute, comfortable, practical hairstyle will be all the more important on the day you give birth.

Why? Because the process of labor can be long and arduous—and sweat, as Black moms-to-be with natural hair know all too well, can ruin a hairstyle in the blink of an eye. Even if you have a c-section, most women continue to sweat after delivery because of hormonal fluctuations. “Hot flashes are common, since estrogen levels fall quickly after delivery when the body has to quickly adjust from no longer being pregnant,” says Theresa Buckson, MD, an ob-gyn at South Miami hospital in Miami, Florida.

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Your body sweats to regulate your temperature—which is good for you, but not ideal for your hair. The salt from your sweat can be drying and cause excess frizz; in a matter of minutes, that moisture can cause straightened hair to curl and kinky hair to shrink. Bobby pins, clips and hair combs might help keep your hair in place during labor, but they aren’t useful during a c-section. “All those things have to come out before going into the operating room,” Buckson explains.

So what’s a mama to do? Keep reading for tried-and-true hairstyles that’ll keep you comfortable and your hair protected during childbirth and beyond.

6 Great Hairstyles for Labor and Delivery

We tapped Teda Darosa-Pinkney, a hairstylist at Empire Beauty School in Boston, Massachusetts, and a mother of two, to share her recommended hairstyles for childbirth. Over the years, she’s had clients who request a big chop before Delivery Day, while others have sat for hours to get their preferred style. Here, some options to consider:

Image: Getty Images

1. Pixie cut

A cute pixie cut is a great option for a fresh look for labor and delivery. This style is short and can be cropped close around the ears with short bangs or no bangs at all. Having very short hair guarantees there will be no hair to pick up or pull away from your face while you’re working hard. Gel or hair oil can be added around the hairline to smooth edges right before picture time. Since big chops are often big decisions, be sure to schedule an appointment with a stylist who can recommend the best length and style that suits the shape of your face.

2. Braids

Braided styles provide a lot of options for expectant mothers. Weaving hair into a side braid or French braid, or adding hair extensions to create cornrows, microbraids or box braids, are cute styles that will take moms through labor, delivery and beyond. Since the hair is locked into braids, it makes it easy to have a polished look while protecting the hair and is an easy way to keep it back or up and away from the face. Although some styles can take hours to achieve, if covered with a silk or satin scarf each night, they can last up to three months—a potential life saver during those first few exhausting weeks!

3. Waves

Moms with naturally long hair can choose to cornrow a braid on each side of their head as a transitional style to take them through labor and delivery. Applying gel or leave-in conditioner to the hair before braiding will help keep the strands in place and create a cute and playful look for pre-baby photos. After delivery, the braids can be taken down to showcase the waves created, and the hair can be fluffed and pulled over one shoulder for photos.

4. Micro bead extensions

Extensions can work for any hair type and can be a great hairstyle for labor and delivery, since it’s a sweat-proof way to achieve a long, straight style without the risk of frizz. With micro bead extensions, your own hair is placed on top of and beneath the individual hair extensions and can easily be blended into the extensions after birth. This is a glam option for women who want to achieve a fuller, layered hairstyle with the help of added hair—and don’t mind sitting in a salon for hours to achieve the look. The end result is gorgeous, but it calls for a time commitment: one of Darosa-Pinkney’s clients sat for 9.5 hours a few days before giving birth to her twins in order to have her micro bead extensions installed at the salon.

Image: Rob Culpepper / Getty Images

5. Twists

Twist styles are a great choice for moms who want to showcase their naturally coily, curly or kinky hair without the frizz that sometimes comes along with it. To achieve this look, two sections of hair are twisted together using a hair butter or gel to keep the coils moist and together. Once baby is born, Mom can decide to leave the twists in or go with a “twist out” style by unraveling them for a fuller hairstyle.

Image: Eugenio Marongiu / Getty Images

6. A wrap

Moms-to-be who like to wear their hair straight can wrap their own hair around their heads under a satin scarf during labor and delivery. The scarf will not only keep the hair in place, but it’ll also soak up any sweat that accumulates along the hairline. When it was time to give birth to her son, Darosa-Pickney chose this option. She used a comb to wrap her hair around the sides of her head until all of the ends were smoothed into the rest of her hair. She added duckbill clips to the sides to keep the hair in place while she secured it beneath her scarf. “Once my son was born, I took off the scarf and combed my hair out straight, so I could look cute in my pictures.”

Having a pretty, practical hairstyle may make you feel more comfortable and confident during and after your labor and delivery. But no matter which style you choose, remember—nothing can compete with that gorgeous new mom glow.

About the experts:

Theresa Buckson, MD, is an ob-gyn at South Miami hospital in Miami, Florida. She earned her medical degree from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine in 1997.

Teda Darosa-Pinkney is a hairstylist at Empire Beauty School in Boston, Massachusetts, which has been offering training programs in cosmetology since 1934.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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