Follow TV Tropes


Clean, Pretty Childbirth

Go To
And the baby comes out nice and clean.

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 the case. The miracle of birth may be beautiful and natural, but it's also pretty damn disgusting, what with amniotic fluids, blood, the placenta, screaming, and in some cases fecal matter, urine, vaginal tearing, and all other bits and fluids you can think of. 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. Meanwhile, a healthy newborn, after spending its first few minutes of life crying up a storm (a good thing, since this means it’s breathing properly and isn’t in distress) will probably be very drowsy or even fast asleep, bright red, and covered in a white waxy substance called vernix, plus a bit of blood and amniotic fluid for good measure. 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 (usually male) 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 reptile and bird eggs have moisture inside, not to mention bits of leftover membranes — a baby chick needs about an hour of drying time to go from 'damp dinosaur' to 'adorable fluffball.'

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." And even without those concerns, a genuinely realistic birth would be very demanding and time-consuming (read: expensive) for cast and crew alike). 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.

Contrast Screaming Birth.

Sub-Trope of Pregnancy Does Not Work That Way and related to Instant Birth: Just Add Labor!. When a 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 off-screen and in less time than they should.

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


    open/close all folders 

    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 back rub, etc. It also ends in serious Mood Whiplash when it turns out her baby is stillborn.
  • In Barefoot Gen, the birth of Tomoko is a very simple and straightforward thing that six-year-old Gen can help with, and (oddly enough for this film) there's no indication that a mess was ever made. They do rinse off Tomoko in a bucket of water, but she was pretty clean before that.
  • In CLANNAD ~After Story~, Ushio's birth is remarkably blood and bodily-fluid free, especially since her mother Nagisa doesn't survive it, at least the first time around. You'd probably be forgiven for thinking she just fell asleep. In the true ending, where Nagisa does survive, Tomoya gives Ushio her first bath, but she doesn't look like she needs one.
  • Justified in Dragon Ball Super when Bulma gives birth. Since Vegeta refuses to leave her side until the baby is born, when the group needs him Whis uses magic to literally teleport the baby out of Bulma's body and leaves behind all of the gunk newborn babies usually are covered in.

    Comic Books 
  • The Captain Underpants spin-off, The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby has a ridiculous example of this, though justified since the entire comic was written by two fourth graders.

    Fan Works 
  • Extended Stay plays this straight with the birth of the Warden and the Mistress's twins, which is ironic if you consider the fact that the fanfic is written for one of the goriest adult cartoons to ever be created.
  • Cori Falls's stories "Family Matters" and "Never Too Late" employ this trope with the human characters giving birth, but subvert it when an Articuno's eggs hatch wet with bits of shell still stuck to them.
  • Secret Sunshine averts this, as Ryuuko finds spots and a trail of blood in Satsuki's room, finding the latter holding the baby in the master bathroom.
  • Justified in the epilogue of Brother on Brother, Daughter on Mother. The birth of Eleya's daughter Taryn is said to have lasted several hours and Eleya incurs a hemorrhage... which is quickly fixed thanks to Federation medical science.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, the baby mammoth Peaches is born, then shown dry and fluffy within seconds after birth. Given that modern-day elephants are born in an absolutely torrential downpour of blood and fluids, and it's a movie for kids, this is probably for the best.
  • In Penguins of Madagascar, Private splashes some gunk on the three older penguins when he hatches, but once that's over with he's perfectly dry and clean.
  • In Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron we see Esperanza having contractions, followed by baby Spirit coming into view clean and neat, though he appears to be wet at first.
  • 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 inside the egg until they're able to dry off.
  • In The Angry Birds Movie, The Blues hatch without any mucus or dust covering them despite Leonard's castle blowing up around them.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • In Angela and Diabola, Angela's pure goodness and Diabola's pure evil first manifest as they're born: Angela's birth is this trope, completely painless and euphoric for their mother, while Diabola's is a Screaming Birth.
  • In John Steinbeck's East of Eden, Cathy gives birth to twins, Cal and Aron, with little more than two short screaming bursts of pain. Lampshaded by Samuel, who brought in his wife's birthing harness to help her out, only to end up not needing it. This symbolizes Cathy's inhumanity.
  • 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.
  • Averted in William Blake’s “Infant Sorrow”, a counterpoint to “Infant Joy”, another poem written for Songs of Innocence and of Experience. In this poem, Blake shows that childbirth can be a painful and upsetting experience for just about everyone involved:
    My mother groand! my father wept.
    Into the dangerous world I leapt:
    Helpless, naked, piping loud;
    Like a fiend hid in a cloud.
    Struggling in my fathers hands:
    Striving against my swaddling bands:
    Bound and weary I thought best
    To sulk upon my mothers breast.
  • Averted in Glorie, as Doki describes the titular Glorie as being covered in "the usual blood and gore" and that Toki's blankets and sheets being stained. Likewise, from what's implied, this is averted in Esther, where Doki, in labor with the titular baby, mentions "a rush of fluids spilling" out of her.
  • Patternist: Justified in Clay's Ark for people who carry the symbiotic Clayark microorganisms. Thanks to their Healing Factor, childbirth isn't much worse than stomach cramps, and the newborn recovers from the ordeal and adapts to the outside world almost immediately.

    Live-Action Television 
  • Our Miss Brooks: In "The Egg", when the chick hatches it hatches completely dry. In reality, the newly-hatched chicken would have been wet and taken some time to dry off.
  • Lampshaded in Scrubs here, in which a doctor gives a fairly realistic description of what to expect during a birth.
    '50s Narrator: Congratulations! You're expecting! Don't worry; your doctor will tell you everything you need to know. Hi, doctor!
    '50s JD: You'll fart, pee, puke, and poop in front of ten complete strangers who'll be staring intently at your vagina! Which, by the way, has an 80% chance of tearing! (thumbs up)
    '50s Housewife: [To '50s husband] You do it!
  • Lampshaded in Community S2, E22: Shirley 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 Tommy asked about the umbilical cord, Martin said "We don't need an umbilical cord! This is TV!"
  • 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." Ironically, a few episodes earlier, a separate character referenced this trope and how wrong it is, describing it as "bloody, and bestial and you get poop all over your cowboy boots", yet the furthest Quinn's childbirth goes is Puck getting squicked at the sight of it.
  • Army Wives ends their pilot episode with one of the characters giving birth to twins on top of a pool table in a bar. Lucky for the customers, the only bodily fluids that seemed to get out were a few beads of sweat on her forehead, as even the babies were freshly cleaned.
  • Played straight in an episode of Taxi where Alex recounted - via flashback - how he delivered a customer's baby; said baby was spotlessly clean and looked almost one year old. (Granted, this was in the late 70s.)
  • Zigzagged in Misfits. When Nathan helps to deliver a baby, everything adheres to this trope...right up until the new mother delivers the afterbirth. Nathan mistakes it for an alien, throws it on the floor, and stomps on it, splattering everyone nearby.
  • Played straight in the TV movie adaptation of The Mists of Avalon, in which we learn that the time between "baby's first cry as it emerges" and "baby clean and pink and swaddled in a blanket, cradled in the arms of smiling fully-dressed mother, ready to receive visitors" is approximately 2.2 seconds. This being set in the sixth century C.E.
  • In Once Upon a Time, Snow White gives birth this way, including getting up and running down the hall about five minutes later—all while wearing a white dress that remains unsullied.
  • In series 3 of Poldark, Demelza is digging potatoes in the garden when she goes into labour. In no time at all, she then gives birth to her daughter solo, bathes her, wraps her up, and is sitting up in bed, looking glowy and beautiful by the time her husband Ross is back. The childbirth was so pretty, he does not realise she has given birth and Demelza then reveals their new baby as a surprise.
  • Actively averted in Call the Midwife, as the show is about midwives doing their jobs for the working class of London's East End in the mid-1900s. Most births in the show actively show babies covered in vaginal fluid and sometimes blood, umbilical cords in almost every birth in the show, and the mothers showing pain and sweating with the hard work of giving birth WITHOUT ANY PAINKILLERS! The second episode shows a baby needing to be born vaginally in the breech position (rear end coming first rather than the typical head first.) Since the birth was at home and C-Section was unavailable, the camera shows the baby's body hanging as the head is still within the mother's vaginal canal, albeit with her thigh covering her private area. Even nurse Chummy is a bit shocked as afterwards she needs Sister Evangelina to steady her hand in cutting the cord.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: According to "The Begotten", Bajoran women can only give birth when they're completely relaxed, which for some reason involves Kira Nerys lying there meditating while other people play a rhythm on percussion instruments. There's more problems with the baby's father (Miles O'Brien) and Kira's boyfriend (Shakaar Edon) arguing and throwing everything off than with the actual birth. This was done specifically to avert the Screaming Birth trope. Kira is back at work by the next episode, though it's not clear how long the time jump is. (That said, baby Kirayoshi does come out flushed, screaming, messy, and newborn-sized, so there's also a partial aversion at the same time.)
  • Double subverted in Brooklyn Nine-Nine. When Amy gives birth, Rosa talks at length about how horrified she is at what's going on and shows a page from a birthing manual that is pixelated to imply how horrific the sight is. Jake, meanwhile, is ecstatic to see how the labor is progressing.
  • WandaVision: In keeping with the "family sit-com" aesthetic of Westview, apart from some screaming and contractions, Wanda's birth of the twins in episode three goes very cleanly. Both Billy and Tommy are clean and dry as soon as they're born, and Wanda doesn't even bother to change out of the dress she gave birth in, which seems untouched. Since Wanda is responsible for the rules of the sitcom, she's pretty obviously inclined not to make it too difficult on herself.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Ars Magica takes this to wizard-did-it extremes with a spell that instantly teleports the baby out of the womb. Justified in that the game is set in medieval Europe, where childbirth was a dangerous process for both the mother and child. One feels compelled to note that the rules allow an entrepreneurial mage to imbue the spell into a top hat...

    Video Games 
  • In Valkyria Chronicles, a woman gives birth in a tank with no signs of a mess being made. Not only that, she did it quietly enough that the two people who were piloting the tank at the time were able to fight a battle without being distracted.
  • In The Sims, birth is accomplished by the mother (or father, if he was kidnapped by aliens) making a few yowling noises, spinning around, and instantly regaining their pre-pregnancy shape. Furthermore, the kid comes out already diapered.
    • In the original version, they arrive with a bassinet in a shower of daisies (and can be produced just by kissing passionately enough times), already wearing a sleeper and a little wool hat, to a round of applause from all the Sims in the house.
    • Though handily averted in The Sims 3, as birth starts with a dash to the hospital, where the family will spend several in-game hours. This takes place after a period of pregnancy (only a few in-game days, with the compressed timescale), during which the mother will suffer soreness, nausea and become less and less mobile as her balance gets moved.
    • In The Sims 4, if the Get to Work Expansion Pack is installed, Sims can go to the hospital and have the baby delivered by a machine.
  • Grotesquely averted in the Bloodborne DLC "The Old Hunters": The Final Boss, the Orphan of Kos, is in a cutscene prior to the fight shown to be born out of its Eldritch Abomination mother's corpse. The sounds of this birth are nauseating, the Orphan seems to drag out most of its mother's spiny innards with it as it pulls itself out from her, and is there a placenta? You bet there is. It happens to be the Orphan's weapon of choice.
  • Black & White: When a villager is ready to give birth, she lies down for a few seconds, then a new toddler pops up and is immediately able to walk around on its own. It even comes with its own set of clothes.
  • When an animal is about to have offspring in Planet Zoo, she lays down, and then her offspring fade into existence nearby.
  • Pokémon: When a Pokémon hatches from its egg, it emerges clean and dry in a flash of light and scattered eggshell.
  • Final Fantasy X-2: Lulu and her baby not only look perfectly clean after she gives birth, she wears her ridiculously tight, form-fitting outfit both during the birth and also the entire time she's pregnant (without ever showing any signs of pregnancy).

    Visual Novels 
  • On the path to the Family Ending in Melody, the title character gives birth to a clean-looking baby.

  • In The Bird Feeder #64, "Birthday," one of Darryl and Edna's children breaks out of its shell, looking quite like a fledgling cardinal, at which point they both yell, "Happy Birthday!"
  • Averted in the Sabrina Online 'Baby Steps' comic. By the end of the birth of her daughter Danielle, Sabrina is ruffled and sweating, and (while not explicitly seen) baby Danielle is implied to look a bit messy immediately post-birth.
    Sabrina: How... How is the baby? How does she look?
    R.C.: She's - aah... um... You know how someone might look if they sat in the same bath for nine months straight?
    Sabrina: WHAT?
    Doctor: Trust me, right now is the worst your child will ever look.
  • Schlock Mercenary: Kevyn's rebirth was supposed to mimic one of these, however being in a rush makes it look closer to an actual childbirth.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • All kinds of creatures are shown hatching from eggs in Dinosaur Train, and they all come out completely dry.
  • The Great North: In "Xmas With the Skanks Adventure", Wilhelm gives birth to her calves. The placenta entrails aren't shown, but Moon still comments on how smelly the calves are.
  • The High Priestess of Aku from Samurai Jack Season 5 manages to deliver septuplets in a cave with no medical aid or assistance and still has enough energy left over to give a sermon to her fellow cultists. Most real mothers would have died from such an experience, but for the High Priestess, it is just one more step in her plan to kill Jack. It helps that she’s not entirely human, and neither was the "father".
  • An old Christmas cartoon has Mary and Joseph settling into the stable after being turned away from the inn. Joseph wanders toward a window and remarks what an unusual star has just appeared in the sky. "Come look at it, Mary... Mary?" He turns to see why she didn't answer right away. Offscreen, Mary joyfully announces, "The baby!" Yep, that's all there was to the entire labor and delivery.
  • Total Drama (2023): In Priya's audition it's revealed she was literally trained from birth to compete on the show, using her own umbilical cord for her first bungee jumping experience. Apart from the umbilical cord, nothing explicit is shown.
  • In the Total Dramarama episode "Baby Brother Blues", Beth's mom, who is pregnant with Beth's baby brother, gives birth in Chef's office. The scene was skipped over because Chef and Gwen were trying to get Beth back to school, and when Gwen and Beth got back, Beth sees her mom with her new baby brother wrapped in a blanket.