Water births have become more popular in recent years.
Many expectant mums are eager to try a water birth because they’ve heard that it reduces your chances of tearing and makes you feel less pain during birth.
Having a water birth means giving birth in water (usually a water-filled tub or birthing pool).
Meanwhile, water immersion is when some parts of your labour occur in water.
You can have a water birth at home, in a birthing pool at a birth centre or in the hospital.
If you’re considering a water birth, you’re likely wondering what to wear.
Comfort is the most important factor when considering what to wear in a water birth. You may also be concerned about modesty.
Clothes like bikini tops, tankini tops, bras, tank tops and birthing skirts make great water birth outfits. They are not too bulky to be uncomfortable and also prevent unnecessary exposure.
In this post, I outline 10 different outfits you can wear for a beautiful water birth experience.
Let’s find out more!
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WHAT SHOULD YOU WEAR FOR A WATER BIRTH?
Here are 10 options of what to wear in a birthing pool for a water birth (or a bathtub as the case may be).
Bikini tops are probably the most common birthing outfit most expectant mums wear in the birthing pool and for good reason.
It’s comfortable and leaves the bottom half free for the baby to come out unhindered.
Bikini tops are also highly recommended by midwives. Bikini bottoms can also work if you find them comfortable.
Get one with ropes that tie at the side, so they can easily be untied when your baby is about to come out.
#2. MATERNITY TANKINI TOPS
A tankini top is a good maternity wear for the birthing pool if you’d like some modesty during birth.
It’s longer than a bikini top and the hem is closer to your waist allowing for better coverage.
A halterneck tankini top is even better for quick access to your chest for skin to skin with your baby when she is born.
#3. MATERNITY SWIM DRESS / BIRTH SWIMWEAR
A maternity swim dress is another water birth cloth that allows for comfort without jeopardizing your modesty.
You may hear a lot of women say you won’t care what you’re wearing in labour but some women do care.
If you’re unsure about how you’ll feel, it doesn’t hurt to get a birthing pool swimwear just in case.
#4. TANKTOP OR CAMISOLE
A tank top or camisole is not a popular choice but some mums-to-be do feel comfortable and less exposed wearing them during labour.
Remember that a top will stick to your body during birth and that might feel sticky.
Yet, a water birth top may be a great option for you if you’re concerned about modesty. Pair them with a water birth skirt for maximum coverage.
#5. BIRTHING SKIRT
Some labouring mums, pair a bra (or bra alternative) with a water birth skirt.
This is a great combination because not only does it keep you covered, it leaves your belly open for any monitoring (if necessary).
If you are looking for modesty during labour, I recommend wearing a labor skirt.
#6. A SHORT GOWN
Just like with the tank top, you can wear a short gown for modesty purposes.
If you want to film your water birth and are concerned about exposure, a short black gown could be a great way to go.
It’s short enough that it won’t obstruct your baby’s coming out in the water.
#7. BIRTHING BRA
Next to a bikini top, bras are the most common water birth clothes. They are simple little garments that won’t get in the way of your baby’s birth.
However, not all bras are created equal. Some bras (like underwired bras) can be very uncomfortable to give birth in especially if you’re planning for a water birth.
The best bras for a waterbirth are:
- NURSING BRA
Nursing bras are by nature comfortable with no underwires poking into your already double-sized boobs.
They’re also great for immediate skin-to-skin when your baby is placed on you right after birth.
And for easy access to your breasts for your baby’s first feed (if you plan on breastfeeding).
It’s worth getting a black or dark coloured one as your newborn baby will be covered in blood and other fluids that will stain your bra.
- SPORTS BRA
A sports bra is loved by so many expectant mums because it’s comfortable and stretchy enough to accommodate your growing breasts.
It’s also a great choice to use as a water birth bra.
The bralette is similar to the bandeau (discussed below). This light bra doesn’t have an underwire.
It was designed primarily for comfort, so no poking or prodding while you’re giving birth.
Not into bras, no problem. A bandeau is a great bra alternative.
Made popular in the 1940s as a top section of swimwear, bandeaus are soft, stretchy “breast bands” that are super comfortable and flexible.
If you are voluptuous and wouldn’t be comfortable letting your bits hang loose in the water, a bandeau is a good outfit to wear in the birthing pool.
#9. CROP TOP
Another way to cover up is to wear a crop top. The great thing with a crop top is that you can easily lift it up for immediate skin to skin with your baby once she’s born.
Many women in labour, find that they want NOTHING on them and they don’t care at this stage.
They’ve left dignity at the door! It’s the least of their concerns!
Despite all your elaborate plans, you may end up in the birthing pool completely naked and not minding one bit!
WHAT COLOUR OF OUTFITS SHOULD YOU WEAR?
If you watch birthing vlogs, you’ll discover that most women wear black or dark coloured clothes when giving birth.
There’s a good reason for this.
Childbirth is messy. When your baby comes out so will other fluids. Also, your baby will be covered in vernix caseosa (a white, creamy protective cover for babies in the womb).
These can easily stain whatever you’re wearing. Although to be fair, most new mums don’t care at this point.
A black or darker coloured cloth (like dark magenta) will not stain visibly.
WATER BIRTH HOSPITAL BAG CHECKLIST
Now that you know what to wear for a water birth. The next step is to go buy any specific items you need.
Also, don’t forget to pack your water birth clothes in your hospital bag.
In addition to the generic hospital bag checklist like this one here, other specific items to add to your hospital bag for water birth are:
- A big dark towel for drying after all that water
- A body moisturizer after spending so much time in the water, your skin might feel dry
- Loose PJs or a cute night dress to wear after giving birth
- A lip balm many women get dry lips during labour.
WHO IS A GOOD CANDIDATE FOR WATER BIRTH?
Many women with straightforward pregnancies who have reached full term can have a water birth as long as you’re healthy and not carrying multiples.
You can still have a water birth if you’ve been booked in for an induction or your waters have broken.
But you may not be able to have a water birth if you:
- have had complications in previous pregnancies or this one,
- have a medical condition or
- need to be monitored during labour
It’s always a good idea to talk extensively about your birth plan with your midwife or doctor before your baby arrives.
IS WATER BIRTH SAFE FOR YOUR BABY?
While the safety of water birth is debated in the United States, It’s generally accepted to be a safe practice in the UK.
This detailed article explains clearly the safety of water birth for babies as well as for labouring moms.
ARE YOU LESS LIKELY TO TEAR WITH A WATER BIRTH?
My major fear going into birth was tearing. I would have opted for a water birth if my first son’s birth wasn’t complicated.
Studies show that water birth significantly reduces your chances of perineal tears and episiotomy while giving birth.
IS WATER BIRTH LESS PAINFUL?
According to this research, many mums believe that even though the water didn’t reduce the pain, it helped them cope with the pain of labour.
It says, “The women used water to reduce their fear of pain and of childbirth itself; to cope with pain, not necessarily to remove or diminish pain, and to maintain control over the process of birth.”
I second this.
I spent a significant part of my second baby’s birth in water. It was the most calming feeling and helped me ride the contractions better.
Water birth helps women feel in control of their birth and can reduce your likelihood of having tears.
There are different birthing outfits you can wear for a water birth as discussed in this article.
The most important factor is that whatever you decide to wear (or not wear) makes you feel comfortable and safe.
Other related posts to check out next:
- What to wear when giving birth (12 different options)
- 8 Tips for a positive birth experience
- Lesser-known hospital bag essentials (what you’re likely to forget)
- What to do if you’re scared of giving birth the second time
Praying for a safe birth for you!