Created By: battosaijoe on November 29, 2011 Last Edited By: morenohijazo on April 18, 2013
Troped

Clean Pretty Childbirth

A birth in media is usually clean and simple.

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In many works and forms of media, the act of giving birth, be it by humans or animals, is a scene that either takes a few minutes or is skipped over entirely. The baby comes out looking dry and clean and there's little to no aftermath or mess, much less the expulsion of the placenta. The mother might be a bit sweaty, but she's for the most part fine, with her makeup still pretty much intact.

Obviously, in real life this isn't really the case. The birthing process is messy and can easily squick out anyone who isn't prepared for it, what with amniotic fluids, blood, fecal matter, tearing, the placenta, and other bits and fluids. The mother also has a tendency to end up drenched in sweat and red in the face due to exertion, as well as knocked out or giddy due to pain or pain medicine. On the rare occasion that the placenta IS mentioned in media, it is usually to set up a Death by Childbirth situation.

This trope is often lampshaded via having characters who are witnessing birth for the first time getting squicked out by the scene.

A variation is when creatures hatch from eggs looking mostly dry and clean. Modern day reptiles and birds hatch very wet and with some egg residue on them.

This is usually necessary or desired for the sake of not grossing out audiences. Another factor is the influence of the Moral Guardians; films with G and PG ratings and TV shows scheduled to air during certain hours aren't supposed to show great quantities of blood. A part of the Hays Code: "Scenes of actual child birth, in fact or in silhouette, are never to be presented." Sometimes they'll just do a time skip: you'll see the mother pushing and probably screaming and then skip to a few minutes later when the baby's already clean and wrapped up.

Related to Instant Birth, Just Add Water. When an live baby is shown, it is never an actual newborn, and is often a Three-Month-Old Newborn, due to legal reasons. Compare Out Giving Birth, Back in Two Minutes, for births taking place in less time than they should.

No aversions, please, lest this example list become a list of every character ever born in any medium.

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Lampshading in Bitter Virgin: Daisuke's older sister gives birth over the course of several hours, and while they don't show anything, she scolds him for assuming that just getting her to the hospital was enough, forces him to give her a mack rub, etc.

Film
  • Played straight in Knocked Up; while it does show a crowning vagina twice, no blood or other liquids or solids are shown.
  • Inverted in Prometheus. Not only is Shaw's cesarean section far more gruesome than most real childbirths, but it's not even a human child being birthed in the scene.
  • In Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, when Luke and Leia are born, their heads appear slightly moist but are otherwise clean and dry. Might be justified due to advanced medical technology in the Star Wars 'verse.

Literature
  • Justified in Vorkosigan Saga with the use of the Uterine Replicator, which makes childbirth about as clean and straightforward as it's possible to be, although--as mentioned at one point--it does raise the rather embarrassing danger of a mother being late to her own child's birth.

Live-Action Television
  • Lampshaded in Scrubs here, in which a doctor gives a fairly realistic description of what to expect during a birth.
  • Lampshaded in Community S2, E22: Shirely gives birth in the middle of class. While the trope appears to be averted via Britta's vomiting at the sight of the birth, in the end it's played straight as the birth turns out looking clean and tidy.
  • An episode of Martin lampshaded this while Leaning on the Fourth Wall. A woman gave birth to what was obviously a baby doll that Martin caught in a catcher's mitt. When Coal asked about the umbilical cord, Martin said "TV babies don't have umbilical cords!".
  • The Christmas episode of The Vicar of Dibley is pretty bad for this: Alice gives birth in the manger while playing Mary, and the kid that results comes out sparkling clean and almost a year old. She gets a little sweaty in the process.
  • Angel: It was a unique birth, since Darla couldn't give birth naturally and dusted herself, but there's no sign of blood or anything on Connor at all when Angel picks him up. Granted, it was raining, but still...
  • Played straight in Glee, where Quinn gets a Screaming Birth scene set to "Bohemian Rhapsody."

Video Games

Web Original

Western Animation
  • In Ice Age 3, the baby mammoth Peaches is born, then shown dry and fluffy approximately 5 minutes after birth.
  • In Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron we see Esperanza having contractions, followed by baby Spirit coming into view clean and neat.
  • The Land Before Time and Disney's Dinosaur both have the baby dinosaurs hatching totally clean. Nobody knows for sure about dinosaurs, but modern reptiles and birds are usually wet and have some residue from being in the egg, until they're able to dry off.

Rolling Updates, Needs More Examples

Community Feedback Replies: 74
  • November 29, 2011
    Mozgwsloiku
    There is a cracked.com article on how messy it really is
  • November 29, 2011
    FinalStarman
    Closely related to Three Month Old Newborn.
  • November 29, 2011
    CrypticMirror
  • November 29, 2011
    battosaijoe
    Not sure about Screaming Birth being that related, as that applies to the woman giving birth's supposed pain, while this covers the actual birthing. As a side note, should that whole paragraph from Three Month Old Newborn regarding actual birthing be copied over? It applies very well here.
  • November 29, 2011
    SmashingMelons42
    • In Valkyria Chronicles, a woman gives birth in a tank and there aren't any signs of a mess being made.
  • November 29, 2011
    battosaijoe
    Question for consideration. This is an extremely common trope in media. Might it be easier to only list aversions and especially prominent examples? Otherwise we might end up with at least half of all the births ever written, filmed, or drawn in fiction.
  • November 30, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    ^ I think that's a good idea.

    Another factor in the cleanliness is the influence of the Moral Guardians; films with G and PG ratings and TV shows scheduled to air during certain hours aren't supposed to show great quantities of blood (realism be damned).
  • November 30, 2011
    battosaijoe
    Updated the description to include that line.
  • November 30, 2011
    SharleeD
    You might also want to note that childbirth scenes rarely, if ever, mention the necessary sequel to giving birth: expulsion of the placenta. If it is mentioned, it's generally to set up a Death By Childbirth complication.
  • December 1, 2011
    shockvaluecola
    -Averted? Double subverted? in Knocked Up, by showing (twice) a crowning vagina, but there is no blood on it.
  • December 1, 2011
    Lysythe
    There's also the crap. No one really wants crap in their pretty/tragic birthing scenes.
  • December 2, 2011
    battosaijoe
    Included lines about placenta and crap, found the Cracked article, and added the examples.
  • December 2, 2011
    CrypticMirror
  • December 2, 2011
    AP
    This trope is sometimes averted by characters who faint, vomit, or otherwise get unnerved once they get a first hand view of the birth.
  • December 3, 2011
    Antigone3
    We never "see" Polgara deliver any of those countless babies in the Belgariad prequels, but she mentions being a bit squicked when she assisted Arell in delivering her nephew.
  • December 3, 2011
    battosaijoe
    Whoever added the Community example, please elaborate on it.
  • December 3, 2011
    battosaijoe
    Also, for the moment, I'm going to include all examples given, because this isn't gathering many examples at the moment.
  • December 3, 2011
    SharleeD
    Peaches, the baby mammoth born in Ice Age 3, is completely dry and fluffy within minutes of being born.
  • December 4, 2011
    AP
    I didn't give the Community example but I can elaborate.

    Shirely gives birth in the middle of class. While Britta vomits when she sees the baby being born, once we see it, it appears pretty clean.
  • December 5, 2011
    battosaijoe
    thank you very much for that. Updated. Please tell me if I got the details wrong.
  • December 28, 2011
    morenohijazo
    Needs A Better Description? I think it's fine.
  • June 4, 2012
    chicagomel
    Sometimes they'll just do a time skip...you'll see the mother pushing and probably screaming and then skip to a few minutes later when the baby's already clean and wrapped up. CSI NY did that one with Lindsay.

    Spirit Stallion Of The Cimarron has one of these, we see Esperanza having contractions, and then baby Spirit comes into view clean and neat.

    Angel-it was a unique birth, since Darla couldn't give birth naturally and dusted herself, but there's no sign of blood or anything on Connor at all when Angel picks him up. Granted, it was raining, but still...

    And it isn't just birth scenes...the same thing tends to happen with hatch scenes. The Land Before Time and Disney's Dinosaur both have the baby dinosaurs hatching totally clean. Nobody knows for sure about dinosaurs, but modern reptiles and birds are usually wet and have some residue from being in the egg, until they're able to dry off. Jurassic Park, I believe, averted it though with a little residue on the hatchling dino when it came out.

    Hmm, should there be a seperate hatch trope or a hatch subtrope?
  • June 4, 2012
    battosaijoe
    I think this should be general enough to cover both hatching and birthing, provided I change the description a bit. Thanks for the examples!
  • June 5, 2012
    Antigone3
    Hatching gets averted in Aerie -- when Coresan's eggs hatch, we see her clean up the first hatchling. Presumably she cleaned up the others as well.
  • June 5, 2012
    battosaijoe
    Added. Thanks very much!
  • June 6, 2012
    peccantis
    Clean Pretty Childbirth?

    Also would like to point out that not only is the child washed and pink at the instant it's pulled to daylight (while in actual childbirth it would be wet with various liquids and greyish with vernix caseosa), the mother also looks no worse for the wear. The most she is is maybe a bit blushed and sweaty, but expect her hair not to look like a complete mess and her face be nicely made-up. She will not be sweating like a horse or bright red from all the work she just did.

    Also she will not be knocked out or giddy from pain medication. Or pain.
  • June 6, 2012
    TheNinth
    Averted in the film version of Jude The Obscure. The birth scene is fairly graphic.
  • June 6, 2012
    battosaijoe
    Updated description and added the Jude The Obscure example. Thanks very much!
  • June 7, 2012
    Hertzyscowicz
    Is there an actual legal reason one couldn't have a fresh-ish born baby in the scene, or is it just that they tend not to be available as child actors?
  • June 7, 2012
    battosaijoe
    Laws vary from state to state, but in California, where most movies are filmed, babies have to be at least 15 days old to in order to get a work permit. Course, most babies don't even resemble newborns at two weeks, with eyes fully open and head starting to round out. In addition, babies tend to have exceptionally limited on-set time, usually only measuring in minutes. As such, directors tend to look for twin or triplet babies that were born early but are healthy enough to be in the studio, so they multiple takes can happen with similar looking babies.
  • June 7, 2012
    BearyScary
    I like Clean Pretty Childbirth as a name.
  • June 7, 2012
    battosaijoe
    I agree. Gives a more positive spin of the trope, although it's a snowclone of Clean Pretty Reliable and snowclones are generally frowned upon in TVTropes trope naming conventions.
  • June 7, 2012
    battosaijoe
    Should I put The Miracle of Life, the educational video many Americans see in middle school, on the example list as an educational aversion?
  • June 10, 2012
    peccantis
    ^ I don't think educational material aversion should be listed. Educational material is supposed to be educational and get the facts right after all.
  • June 11, 2012
    battosaijoe
    ^ True. Alright, I'll keep that unlisted.
  • June 11, 2012
    shimaspawn
    I don't think any aversions should be listed or else the page will become any time anyone is born in fiction ever. Keep the Lampshadings though.
  • June 11, 2012
    battosaijoe
    Another good point, although such a page might be interesting to look at. haha
  • June 11, 2012
    Dawnwing
    Maybe just Clean Childbirth. Clean Pretty Reliable was named so that it would fit the initials for CPR, since it's about CPR. I don't the "pretty" part is particularly needed here; "clean childbirth" covers it quite well.
  • June 11, 2012
    battosaijoe
    Disagree with that. Part of the whole point of the trope is that the child is very pretty, clean, and presentable right after birth, which is patently untrue in real life.
  • June 11, 2012
    peccantis
    And the mommy also stays pretty despite tendencies of reality :I Perhaps the name should keep the "Pretty".
  • June 12, 2012
    qe2eqe
    This is what the audience expects. A stronger trope is a depiction of birth with realistic detail. p.s. I'm sure there's already a trope based on things being prettier/easier/simpler than they would be in real life.
  • June 12, 2012
    battosaijoe
    Just because it's what the audience expects doesn't make it a weak trope. Also I'm not seeing how a trope about things in general being easier in media than they are in real life affects the validity of this proposed trope.
  • June 13, 2012
    peccantis
    ^^ Hollywood Tropes perhaps? Many of those go in that vein.
  • June 13, 2012
    Boston
    Karen's labor on the American Shameless (season 2, ep 11) averts this -- after two years of seeing the rather beautiful actress naked, the audience is given a close up and messy view of vaginal delivery.
  • June 13, 2012
    battosaijoe
    We're now trying to avoid listing aversions, lest this trope's example list become a list of every birth in media ever.
  • June 14, 2012
    Sandry
    Lampshading in Bitter Virgin: Daisuke's older sister gives birth over the course of several hours, and while they don't show anything, she scolds him for assuming that just getting her to the hospital was enough, forces him to give her a mack rub, etc.
  • June 14, 2012
    randomsurfer
    A part of the Hays Code: "Scenes of actual child birth, in fact or in silhouette, are never to be presented."
  • June 15, 2012
    Synchronicity
    Played straight in Glee, where Quinn gets a Screaming Birth scene set to "Bohemian Rhapsody."
  • June 17, 2012
    rodneyAnonymous
    Is the name a snowclone of "clean pretty reliable"? (CPR is usually portrayed as neat, and almost always working.) It is awkward / out of place, especially the word "pretty". Seems bad.
  • June 17, 2012
    battosaijoe
    That's been discussed above. To summarize: The "pretty" is there because of how pretty mothers in media tend to look after childbirth aside from a little sweat. No exhaustion, no running makeup, no redness from pain, just a little sweat. It's also indicative of how pretty babies tend to be portrayed.
  • June 17, 2012
    rodneyAnonymous
    That is an excuse for / justification of it being a snowclone of Clean Pretty Reliable I think. There's no way anyone would have suggested the name Clean Pretty Childbirth if the first name didn't exist. Even if that fit perfectly and was developed independently, "it sounds like a snowclone" would be a serious criticism of the name. It's bad. Just "Clean Childbirth" is good for alliteration, "Pretty Birth" has an okay ring to it, "Neat Nativity" is maybe too far off.
  • June 17, 2012
    battosaijoe
    Just "Clean" or "Pretty" doesn't give justice to what the trope is, and one troper declaring it a bad name isn't enough justification for it to be changed. In addition, a mod has added their input to the trope above and raised no objections about that name. If we can come up with a name that better describes both the cleanliness of the birth and the relative prettiness of the mother during and after said birth, then I'll gladly change it. As it stands now, however, there isn't a better name on the table.
  • June 17, 2012
    Xtifr
    • Justified in Vorkosigan Saga with the use of the Uterine Replicator, which makes childbirth about as clean and straightforward as it's possible to be, although--as mentioned at one point--it does raise the rather embarrassing danger of a mother being late to her own child's birth.
  • June 18, 2012
    rodneyAnonymous
    Clean Childbirth could be said to describe both the baby and the mother. Saying "there isn't a better name on the table" implies Clean Pretty Childbirth is good. It's not.
  • June 18, 2012
    battosaijoe
    Once again... one troper declaring a name bad is not enough justification for it to be changed.
  • June 18, 2012
    rodneyAnonymous
    Good thing that's not all, then. Is Everythings Worse With Snowclones enough justification? It should be.
  • June 18, 2012
    cygnavamp
    • There was an episode of Martin that lampshaded this while Leaning On The Fourth Wall. A woman gave birth to what was obviously a baby doll that Martin caught in a catcher's mitt. When Coal asked about the umbilical cord, Martin said "TV babies don't have umbilical cords!"
  • June 18, 2012
    battosaijoe
    From Everythings Worse With Snowclones:

    "If your trope title completely relies on the idea that 'surely, everyone read that other page- I just have to make a pun with it', you should scrap it in favor of something clearer. Always assume that yours will be the first page on the Wiki that someone reads."

    The page is not saying that every snowclone in the history of ever is bad, making note at the bottom of the page as such. It's basically saying that snowcloning for snowcloning or joke's sake is highly discouraged, then gives specific examples. The name of this trope is neither to reference Clean Pretty Reliable nor is it to make a joke on it. The name is clear and describes the trope very well.
  • June 18, 2012
    rodneyAnonymous
    "Basically", huh? :)
  • June 19, 2012
    Frank75
    Just found we also have a trope "Out Giving Birth Back In Two Minutes".
  • June 19, 2012
    Shahanshah
    The Christmas episode of Vicar of Dibley is pretty bad for this: Alice gives birth in the manger while playing Mary, and the kid that results comes out sparkling clean and almost a year old. She gets a little sweaty in the process.
  • June 19, 2012
    battosaijoe
    Basically, yeah. Show me where snowclones are expressly and completely forbidden on that page. :)

    I suppose Out Giving Birth Back In Two Minutes would be an extreme version of this?
  • June 19, 2012
    Fighteer
    I don't like the snowclone title. Other than that, this is definitely a trope, but it needs more straight examples. If all you can find are lampshadings or aversions, you might be looking at a Dead Horse Trope.

    Also make sure you aren't overlapping too much with other tropes, or make sure to list the distinctions in the description and on the other tropes if/when you launch.
  • June 19, 2012
    battosaijoe
    Ok. I'll try to think of something better for the trope title, then. Sorry for the fuss, Rodney.
  • June 19, 2012
    Mauri
    Mmm Doctor Who has an episode (The Doctor's daughter) but it is based on a cloning machine so it many not fit but it is unnaturally clean.
  • June 19, 2012
    Xicon
  • June 20, 2012
    Xtifr
    I have to say that I actually think "Clean Pretty" works better and makes more sense here than it does on the trope it's supposedly cloning from. But maybe Effortless Childbirth?
  • June 21, 2012
    nathandoe2016
    In Avatar The Last Airbender Sokka gets squicked out after witnessing a childbirth
  • June 26, 2012
    battosaijoe
    Changed title to Effortless Childbirth, as no other names were suggested or came up with.
  • March 7, 2013
    Doodler
    Averted in Lost, one of the few times in TV that labor takes a long while as it should. Labor can take days on occasion.
  • March 8, 2013
    Frank75
    "Effortless" would be exactly like Out Giving Birth Back In Two Minutes.

    There is such a show as "American shameless"? Goddammit.
  • April 10, 2013
    CrankyStorming
    I didn't even know about the CPR thing and understood Clean Pretty Childbirth fine, but Effortless Childbirth doesn't describe what we have written at all, implying lack of work as opposed to lack of squick.
  • April 10, 2013
    morenohijazo
    I prefer the old title too.
  • April 17, 2013
    morenohijazo
    Launching soon.

    Ideas for indexes?
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=g0jle0r063mo29nw9548usb8