There’s nothing wrong with opting for the standard hospital gown if that’s what you want to do, but the fact of the matter is, you can wear whatever you want. Nurses in a hospital have a routine they are accustomed to, and part of that is instructing you to gown up. However, you always have the right to speak up and express your preference for wearing your own garments from home. Most nurses in most cases will not have a problem with this, and you can simply change into (or keep wearing) your choice of clothing.
Check out this link for more about why you may want to consider wearing your own clothes.
What are some things to consider when choosing your laboring outfit?
- These clothes will almost certainly end up with blood, amniotic fluid, perspiration, and other bodily secretions on them. If you want to bring something from home, you may want to bring old clothes you can trash afterwards or at least something that can take heavy duty laundering. Same applies to clothing you wear postpartum; you’ll be leaking lots of wet stuff for a while.
- For the actual birth (pushing the baby out) care providers will need access. So while it’s totally okay to wear shorts or underwear while laboring, you will have to ditch these before pushing or anytime your care provider performs a vaginal exam. A birth skirt may be a good option if you want bottoms you won’t have to slip off.
- Wearing something a little snug around your belly (a comfy t-shirt or some shorts) can help keep monitor bands from shifting around so much. This can help you move more freely without your labor nurse having to constantly pop in to adjust the straps. Don’t make it too snug though, as most women find added pressure on the abdomen in labor to be uncomfortable.
- If you’re bringing clothes from home, remember that you may need a change of clothes during labor. If your water breaks with a huge gush, you will not want to keep wearing wet clothes. If you are absolutely opposed to a hospital gown, bring back up garments.
- Bring clothes that you can get on and off easily. During labor you will be making lots of bathroom trips, you may be hopping in and out of the shower, you will likely be having a few vaginal exams, and you will probably at least have some kind of heplock in your arm (an IV port that is not currently connected to an IV bag or pole). You won’t want the added annoyance of clothing you can’t get on and off your pregnant body.
- If you have the option to labor or birth in water, you may want to bring either a sports bra or bikini top. No one will blink an eye if you hop in the water wearing nothing at all, but you may feel more comfortable with a little coverage.
- Don’t forget socks or flip-flops, especially if you’re squeamish about walking barefoot on the hospital floor.
- If you opt for the hospital gown, you can wear it any way you like. You can keep your bra on underneath if you need that extra support. Many women like to wear two hospital gowns, one opening in the back, and another layered on opening in the front to keep your butt from hanging out. This is especially great if you’d like to walk the halls or have labor companions in the room at certain points who you don’t want seeing all your business. Or you can wear a hospital gown with shorts underneath.
- If you need a cesarean during labor, you will need to wear what the nurses provide. Period. They need to create a sterile field for the surgery, and they are the experts in how to do this. This is a time when it is best to let them carry out their job in exactly the manner they have been trained. You can ask your nurse after the surgery when it’s appropriate to opt for your own clothing.
- You may end up wearing nothing at all during certain parts of your birth. If you are feeling exposed, ask for something to cover up. If you don’t care, that’s also fine. Birthing mothers can’t always be bothered with clothing. That being said, it’s probably wise not to invite anyone to your birth that you wouldn’t want to see you naked. As for your care provider, nurses and doula, they’ve seen it all before, it’s part of the job, and they are way more concerned with your comfort, well-being, and getting your baby born safely than whether you’re wearing any clothes.
- Immediately after your baby is born, you probably want to spend some time skin to skin with your fresh little newborn snuggled directly on your breasts. You may want to remove whatever you were laboring in if it doesn’t have a front opening. If you’re feeling cold or exposed, your nurse or doula will be happy to cover you and your newborn with some blankets.
- If modesty is a concern for you, let your birth team know. Tell your doula during prenatal visits, and let your nurse know when you arrive at the hospital. They will be happy to take extra precautions to make sure your privacy is protected as much as possible.