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What to Wear During Labor & Childbirth

Katlyn Joy |25, March 2014


Sure, it's not the most important concern you have about labor. And you may even feel too silly to ask anyone, but chances are you've wondered; what do people wear in labor? Do you have options?

Of course there isn't a standard birthing center or hospital policy that applies to all women nationwide, but in general, hospitals want you in a gown of some kind whether or not it's their own standard issue. The one requirement usually is that whatever you wear provides easy access for cervix checks and for hooking up any necessary equipment. That doesn't mean you have to have an ill-fitting ugly hospital gown that sort of ties or snaps up the back thereby nearly guaranteeing you mooning a host of people.

Labor Gowns

While buying a new item to wear during birth is a dicey move, many women choose to gamble. They want something pretty to wear, something that will allow them to nurse easily after giving birth, and something that is comfortable.

Should you opt to buy a gown, look for the following features:

Go up a size. Don't think you don't want a tent; yes, you do. Another reason, besides obvious roominess and corresponding comfort is that when your milk comes in you will have breasts you will not recognize. Even the most modest of bustlines become stripper/centerfold sized.

Look at the different types of nursing access to choose the style you think you'd like best. Some have center slits, others flaps under the bust. There are a number of options and you should fumble about a bit to see what each is like.

Ease of laundering. If you buy a nursing gown that is dry clean only, or can't be dried in the dryer, you are going to have a rude awakening to parenthood in general. Mothering isn't a dry-clean world.

For a related thought, go for a darker shade or print that will not showcase any truly inevitable stains.

From Your Closet

Some women love a big oversized sleep tee. They love the comfort of the worn-in softness, the familiarity and the fact that should it get stained (and it most likely will) it won't matter much.

For some expectant moms, the idea of being bare bottomed is... unbearable. For them, a simple slip on jogging or yoga pant or perhaps an elastic waist or drawstring tie pj bottom is a good alternative.

Another option is to purchase a simple and comfortable nursing gown. The upside is that it will provide good bottom access, and perfect access for nursing baby after birth. The downside can be that it can be more difficult to do monitoring, or reaching the back area if needed, depending on the fit of the gown. The other downside? Buying a new gown to give birth in may not be the best investment unless you own some powerful stain removal products. Birthing is messy business, after all!

If you will be using a birthing tub or a shower at the hospital or birthing center, there are some other options for your use. Lots of moms like to wear a sports bra or other type of bra top and cover bottom with a robe when getting out. This may be a bit too airy for you. Consider a swim type skirt or slip on bottoms.

Other related items to wear in labor include a robe, slippers and socks. Robe should be loose, a tie closure, not a zippered one, and give you adequate coverage. Nothing fancy or expensive. Slippers should be slip on. You won't want to need to bend over your belly to pull them on and off. Socks that are comfy and warm are an excellent idea.

While we are on the topic of additional items, consider what to do with your hair. Bring extra ponytail holders, headbands, bobby pins, any hair item you think you could possibly find useful. It can be most annoying to have stray hair stuck to your sweaty forehead in labor.

Finally, do not set yourself up to expect portrait pretty photos post-birth. You will have run the biggest marathon of your life. You will be dirty, sweaty, covered in various bodily fluids. Vanity must be forgotten at such times. The beauty will be in the accomplishment, and reflected in the face of the baby in your arms.

Related Articles

Pain Management During Labor and Childbirth

Using Guided Imagery During Labor and Childbirth

Pain Relief Options for Labor and Childbirth

4 Exercises To Make Labor & Childbirth Easier

Why Learning Not to Fear Labor & Childbirth Is Beneficial


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