What You Can Wear for Labor

Mother and father in hospital with newborn
When it comes to any momentous event in life, I am a diva and a perfectionist about what I wear.  If I don’t find that just right outfit for each occasion, I feel out of place, anxious, grumpy and downright sloppy. Allow me to illustrate with a few big life moments of my own. I chose the most gorgeous, springy, girlish dress for my bridal shower and it made me feel like a lovely soon-to-be bride. On the other hand, I cheaped out and ordered my wedding dress online and...wasn’t the beautiful blushing bride I had in mind. I was not happy with the dress but I was stuck. So nine months after the wedding, when it came time for my daughter’s birth, I was determined to wear the perfect outfit for my daughter’s entrance into this world. Here’s what I learned from that experience.

Most women opt to wear a hospital gown for the birth of our babies. And while I understand that a hospital gown is undeniably convenient - no worry about getting it messy or having to clean it - they are notoriously ugly and revealing. The moment I donned my hospital sack - I mean gown - I felt like an elephant with a sheet clumsily thrown over its hulking body. I made many trips from the bed to the toilet and every time I turned my back to the nurse, I was sure I was flashing her with my very pregnant backside - as if having her stick her hand up my lady parts, insert needles into my veins and having my nether regions as the star of the show wasn’t humiliating enough!  As I quickly learned, delivery room fashion demands compromise, so you have to decide where your priorities are. I thought mine were with the convenience and ease of the hospital gown, but two hours into my birth, the indignities were too much and I moved on to option number 2.

I peeled off the hospital gown and rocked a sports bra and the hospital’s oh-so-comfy granny panties. This rather daring option helped me stay cool and allowed complete freedom of movement - no restrictive gowns, robes or other clothing to get in my moaning, swaying, birthing self. Although my undies weren’t terribly “modest” or fashionable, at that point all I cared about was having my bottom and boobs covered. However, I wasn’t comfortable walking the halls in this attire, so I stayed put in my room. A tip if you do decide to go for a bra and panties - take your bra off well before baby is born, as it can be extremely difficult to do so amid all the IV lines and monitors. The last thing you want to do as your baby is placed on your chest (I can personally testify!) is fight to get your clothes off.

Another good option is a robe. While the idea never crossed my mind, bringing a cozy, familiar robe can be a real comfort for many women. Worn alone or over underwear, robes provide complete coverage and are easy to remove as needed. As with wearing your own clothes, however, the downside is that you have to clean it when all's said and done - or throw it away.

The final option - and the one I plan to employ next time around - is a gown. This can be a comfy nightgown but there are specially designed birthing gowns made to accommodate the needs of a laboring woman and the hospital staff. These gowns are generally very comfortable, provide full coverage and are functional, although they do tend to be expensive and must still be washed or thrown away after the birth.

For me, I have now know that the comfort and beauty of a birth gown are now what matter to me when it comes to labor and birth. For others, it may be convenience and coverage. What matters is that whatever you choose, you feel comfortable and well dressed for the occasion.