What to Wear at a Hospital Birth
Almost every woman I know has this problem. They have nothing to wear . . . with a closet full of clothes. You know what I’m talking about. I feel like I have this issue almost every morning. “What am I going to wear?” Obviously, what we wear can help us feel more attractive and confident each day. And with that confidence, it can also affect the outcome and productivity of our day. When I feel that I look like a million bucks, I usually rock that day! Other days when I’m not feeling my best, I’m usually not doing my very best either.
So when you’re preparing for your baby’s birth day, these questions may come up. What do you wear during labor? But have you thought about how this decision could also possibly affect your comfort and confidence and potentially outcome of your labor and birth? If you are having a hospital birth, you may be thinking that you are going to wear the standard unisex hospital gown that opens in the back that they provide you when you first arrive in triage. That is one option, but guess what . . . you can wear whatever you want in labor as long as your medical team can assist you medically through your contractions and during delivery.
Here are some of your options that are available to you for your labor and hospital birth.
OPTION #1: Hospital Gown
If you are the mom that prefers the hospital gown, go for it! I support all women and their choices and I want what they feel is best for themselves and their babies. If you think the hospital gown is uncomfortable, annoying, or unattractive, then you don’t have to wear it. The hospital staff will not be offended if you decide to bring your own clothes to wear.
If you are still weighing the option on whether or not to wear their gown, here are my pros and cons:
- You don’t have to purchase a new set of clothes to wear for your labor and birth.
- You get a fresh new gown that is just for you.
- Also, you don’t have to worry about getting it dirty since it will be thrown away.
- And if you get the gown dirty, they have more that they can provide you.
- The gown is designed specifically for patients to be easily monitored and it’s convenient for your medical team to check your vitals quickly. You can also breastfeed in it.
- They are one size fits most and can either be entirely too large or too small which can leave you feeling exposed and uncomfortable.
- They aren’t made of the best material and can feel a bit scratchy on your skin.
- Since all hospital patients wear these gowns, it can make you feel like you are a sick patient at the hospital instead of a strong, confident and empowered woman getting ready to give birth.
- They’re ugly. The end.
Unfortunately, it isn’t well known that you can wear whatever you want at the hospital during your labor and birth. I tell my birth doula clients that as long as you wear something that still allows your caregivers to perform cervical exams, monitor your baby’s heart rate and your contractions, and your blood pressure, you can wear whatever you’d like. Here are some other options.
OPTION #2: Birthing Gowns
There are actually a lot of different birthing gowns available on the market. They serve the exact same purpose as a hospital gown, but make the laboring woman feel beautiful and empowered. And let’s be honest, they are so much cuter! Some of the birthing gowns that are available are:
I love this birthing gown. The material is so soft and I love that there is full coverage in the front and back. I also really like that women can re-wear this again during their postpartum period (the first three months after the baby is born). Obviously after it’s been washed after giving birth, of course. 🙂
This is another great and less expensive option. I like how the back is a bit lower so if a mom is wanting to have an epidural, the access to the epidural site is a lot easier for the medical staff. I also like that a support person or a doula has full access to her back and can use massage lotion and massage the mama’s back more easily.
These are just like hospital gowns, but with way cuter prints. That’s really the only difference. I do like how they have more colors and pattern options than the first two options listed above and that you can get a matching pillowcase. The matching pillowcase is really unnecessary, but a nice add on. If you decide to have professional birth/newborn photos taken at the hospital, it might look nice all together for your pictures.
This option is a little more expensive but it can also be used during your pregnancy, birth and postpartum. The dress is soft yet has thicker material so it feels like you are getting more coverage and feeling a bit more secure. Two thumbs up from me!
The classic baby-problem-solver brand, Fridababy, has expanded into the postpartum mom essential market. And they are not disappointing! I was recently at a birth where a doula client wore this gown, and it is so incredibly soft. The snaps are exactly like what you’d find on a traditional hospital gown, and made it seamless for the staff to administer an epidural and for skin-t0-skin with baby as soon as he was born. Another plus of this style of gown is that the nurses are familiar with it and aren’t confused or freaked out by your choice. The snaps are incredibly discreet, and the dark gray color and jersey fabric make it look like you’re just wearing a super cozy dress. And pockets for the win!
OPTION #3: Birthing Skirts
If you feel like a gown is too much and will be a hassle for you, you could also wear a skirt. There are skirts out there that are perfect for labor and giving birth like this one. Most women who prefer wearing a birthing skirt and top or sports bra are women that are wanting to have an unmedicated birth, however, all women can have this as an option. If you are planning to get an epidural, I would recommend wearing a shirt or bra that opens in the back.
OPTION #4: Large T-Shirt
Some of my clients have decided that they would just bring worn-in, comfortable, oversized t-shirts of their own or their husband’s. This way if things get ruined it doesn’t matter. Also, I think having those familiar scents on clothes can make you feel more comfortable and more at home, so I think this is a great option. Your care providers still have access to everything that they need. The only minor issue that could arise is getting your shirt off so you can have skin-to-skin, getting your shirt stuck on your IV tubes, and breastfeeding once the baby is born. Your nurse will have to help you with this.
OPTION #5: Bath/Towel Wrap
I’ve actually had a few clients use this during their labor between getting in and out of the tub or shower and I thought it was genius! It helps you dry off and stay covered front and back. It’s also super convenient since you can get these at Target, Etsy, and pretty much anywhere. And they are relatively inexpensive. I’m a fan! Again, this is a great option for women that are wanting a natural, med-free birth.
OPTION #6: In the Nude
You’d be surprised at how many women actually labor and give birth fully nude. It can get hot in labor. And then cold. And then hot. So being able to take off your clothes and then put them back on is usually something that happens and can becoming tiring for the laboring mama. Everyone in the room has seen hundreds if not thousands of women give birth so don’t feel like you’re the only one. You’re definitely not! If you don’t feel comfortable with this option, no problem. A lot of women aren’t. But if you’re cool with letting it all out, do it! No one will think anything of it.
So, bottom line, when you are in labor, wear what makes you feel like the strong, confident and beautiful woman that you are. Wear (or don’t wear) clothes that enhance your experience of labor. Remember that it is your choice and that the more confident that you feel inside and out, the more likely you will have a better outcome and will be happier with your laboring and birthing experience. The choice of what to wear may turn out to be the most frivolous of the choices you make that day, but you may find laboring in your own clothes to be the first step toward a more empowering labor and birth.
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