What we wear can help us feel more attractive and confident each day. And having that confidence can also affect the outcome and productivity of our day. When I look like a million bucks, I usually rock that day! On other days, when I’m not feeling my best, I’m generally not doing my best either. So when preparing for your baby’s birth, the question may arise: what do you wear during labor? Do you need a birthing gown, labor and delivery gown, or a large t-shirt? There are actually a lot of choices to choose from and things to think about.
First, have you considered how this decision could affect your comfort and confidence and, potentially, the outcome of your labor and birth? If you’re having a hospital birth, you may think you’ll wear the standard unisex hospital gown that opens in the back, which they provide when you first arrive in triage. That’s one option, but guess what . . . you are allowed to wear whatever you want during labor as long as your medical team can assist you medically through your contractions and during delivery! That’s right. And that’s why it’s good for women to know their options so they can birth comfortably and feel confident.
What To Wear at Your Hospital Birth: 6 Options
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 they wear something that allows their caregivers to perform cervical exams and monitor their contractions, blood pressure, and baby’s heart rate, they can wear whatever they’d like. Here are some of your options:
Option One: Hospital Gown
Of course, your first option is to wear the standard gown that the hospital gives you. If you are weighing the option of whether or not to wear a hospital gown, here are my pros and cons:
If you are the mom who prefers a hospital gown, go for it! I support all women and their choices, and I want what you feel is best for yourself and your baby. Here are my pros of wearing a hospital gown:
- You don’t have to purchase a new set of clothes for your labor and birth.
- You can wear a fresh, new gown that is just for you.
- You won’t have to worry about getting it dirty since it will be thrown away. And if you get the gown dirty, the hospital can provide another.
- The gown is designed 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.
If you think the hospital gown is uncomfortable, annoying, or unattractive, you don’t have to wear it. The hospital staff will not be offended if you decide to bring your own clothes to wear. Here are my cons of wearing a hospital gown:
- They are one size fits most and can be too large or too small, leaving you feeling exposed and uncomfortable.
- They aren’t made of the best material and can feel scratchy on your skin.
- Since all hospital patients wear these gowns, it can make you feel like a sick patient instead of a strong, confident, and empowered woman getting ready to give birth.
- They’re ugly — the end.
Option Two: Birthing Gowns
There are a lot of different birthing gowns available on the market. They serve the same purpose as a hospital gown but can make the laboring woman feel more beautiful and empowered. And let’s be honest; they are so much cuter! Some of the available birthing gowns are:
1. Ekouaer Labor and Delivery Gown
This knee-length labor and delivery gown is made of soft, breathable fabric and comes in lots of cute colors. It can be buttoned down in the front, which makes it perfect for breastfeeding. You can even wear it around the house during the postpartum period (the first three months after baby is born).
2. Seraphine Maternity Hospital Bag Labor Gown
This stylish labor gown has side openings for fetal monitoring straps and has snaps in the back that conveniently open if you have an epidural. It’s made of organic cotton, has a loose fit, and features handy pockets to store your phone during early labor. It also has a snap-down front for easy nursing when your baby arrives.
3. Hatch Collection Hatch-To-Hospital Box
The Hatch Collection hospital essentials set comes with a cozy, nursing-friendly bamboo gown that’s super soft! This birthing gown is a great option because it will help you bring a little luxury to the hospital. In addition, this box contains a bamboo brief (with full coverage and no elastics), a matching bamboo robe, and gray socks.
4. Pretty Pushers Labor Gown
This is another excellent option. I like how the back is slightly lower, so if a mom wants to have an epidural, access to the epidural site is easier for the medical staff. I also like that a support person or a doula has full access to the mama’s back and can use massage lotion and massage her back more easily.
5. Baby Be Mine Gownies
These are just like hospital gowns but with way cuter prints. That’s the only difference. I like that they have multiple colors and pattern options and that you can get a matching pillowcase. The matching pillowcase is unnecessary but a nice add-on! And if you decide to have professional birth/newborn photos taken at the hospital, having them all together might look nice for your pictures.
6. Kindred Bravely Labor and Delivery Gown
This super cute labor and delivery gown is from one of our favorite nursing bra brands, Kindred Bravely. Hospital staff appreciates this labor gown’s convenient features, like the velcro front, which opens fully for fetal monitoring and C-section incision checks. The shoulder snaps make breastfeeding and IV access a breeze.
7. Frida Mom Delivery and Nursing Gown
I was recently at a birth where a doula client wore this labor and delivery 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-to-skin with baby as soon as he was born. Another plus of this labor gown style is 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 wearing a super cozy dress. And pockets for the win!
8. Etsy Hospital Gowns for Labor
Etsy always has the cutest options, so take a peek at what they have for birthing gowns. I saw several photos that I loved. Like this one pictured above, for example! It has a beautiful floral design and wide, comfy sleeves. You can check out a bunch of others on Etsy here.
Option Three: Birthing Skirts
If you feel like a labor and delivery gown is too much and will be a hassle, you could also wear a skirt. Most women who prefer wearing birthing skirts with tops or sports bras want an unmedicated birth. However, all women can have this as an option! If you plan to get an epidural, I recommend wearing a shirt or bra that opens in the back. Here are some skirts that are perfect for labor and giving birth:
1. Fold-Over Stretch Midi Short Skirt
This basic skirt is made of soft rayon knit and comes in various solid colors, including black, navy blue, burgundy, and purple. I also love that it has a folding waistband and a midi silhouette. It’s an excellent option that allows for ease of access and comfort.
2. Bolayu Birthing Skirt
This casual, ruffled birthing skirt features an elastic waist and is made of 100% polyester. You can choose from black, blue, and wine color options and pair this skirt with a birthing top at the hospital. It’s also machine washable and makes for cute postpartum wear!
3. Etsy Birthing Skirt
Etsy has some cute birthing skirt options, including this black wrap-style skirt. The wide waistband makes it comfortable under your belly, and the design provides easy access for IVs, monitors, an epidural (if you choose to have one), and vaginal exams. It’s made of stretchy bathing suit material, making it lightweight and easy to dry. And after birth, you can wear it as a swimsuit cover-up!
Option Four: Large T-Shirt
Some of my clients decide to bring worn-in, comfortable, oversized T-shirts of their own or their husbands. This way, if things get ruined, it doesn’t matter. Also, 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 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 Five: Bath/Towel Wrap
I’ve had a few clients use a bath or towel wrap 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 Etsy or pretty much anywhere. And they are relatively inexpensive. I’m a fan! Again, this is an excellent option for women who want a natural, med-free birth. Here are some that we recommend:
1. Turquaz Lightweight Knee-Length Waffle Bathrobe
This is a great shower wrap that’s soft and breathable and comes in tons of cute colors, like pink, turquoise, and lavender. It has a secure Velcro adjustable fastener, so you can adjust it for comfort at the hospital. It’s also lightweight and pretty absorbent, so it will keep you feeling cool.
2. SIORO Towel Wrap Bathrobe
This bathrobe is made of cotton and viscose, making it another soft, breathable option that’s perfect to wear during labor. It’s super absorbent, which will help you stay dry and feel comfortable at the hospital. Additionally, it features an elastic top design, a magic sticker closure, and a large, convenient side pocket.
3. Casual Nights Shower Wrap Bathrobe
Here’s another cute option that has a polka-dot print! This plush shower wrap is made of fleece, which will make you more comfortable during labor. It contains removable straps and an adjustable Velcro closure. As a bonus, it also comes with a loofah soap sponge you can use at home!
4. Turkish Linen Waffle Spa Body Wrap
This smooth, double-stitched body wrap is durable and features a waffle-weave pattern. The cotton and polyester fabric make it feel lightweight, and the adjustable closure allows you to get the perfect fit. Plus, you can wear it as a normal shower wrap after labor, as it gets softer with each wash!
Option Six: In the Nude
You’d be surprised how many women 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 put them back on usually happens and can become 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 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.
Here’s the bottom line: when you are in labor, wear what makes you feel like the strong, confident, and beautiful woman you are! Wear (or don’t wear) clothes that enhance your labor experience. Remember that it is your choice and that the more confident you feel inside and out, the more likely you’ll have a better outcome and be happier with your laboring and birthing experience. The choice of what to wear may 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 more empowering labor and birth.