Sometime last year, a friend of mine asked me what she could wear in labour. She was a first-time mum.
I remember wondering what to wear in labour when I was a mum-to-be.
As your due date draws near, this must be a question on your mind as well.
Today, I’m going to talk about what to wear when giving birth. I’ll cover every possible birth scenario: hospital birth, birth centre, home birth, water birth.
Well, except for giving birth in a car, plane or any random place like that!
Because no two births are the same, I’ve asked other mums about the labour clothes they wore during childbirth. I share their responses below.
Hopefully, this gives you a broader picture of what mums wear during labour and delivery.
Also, I spoke with Danielle, a very experienced midwife to get an expert’s view on what women should wear when giving birth. Her TOP recommendation is that:
I absolutely agree! Comfort is so important in labour!
Before we get into it, I think it’s important to mention that some factors can affect your choice of labour outfits:
- Where you give birth e.g hospital, birth centre, home. For instance, you can’t wear a standard hospital gown for a home birth.
- Type of birth e.g vaginal, caesarean. You will have to wear a hospital gown for a C-Section. I talk more about this below.
- Your personality and confidence you may not be comfortable giving birth naked and that’s fine.
- Hospital rules and regulations some hospitals especially in the US may insist you wear their hospital gown.
- The length and progression of your labour You may find you change your clothes as your labour progresses.
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Just like Mehr who initially wore ”pyjamas as those were the most comfortable” but later changed into a hospital gown because she had a Caesarean Section.
One more thing, if you’ve been putting off taking a birthing class, it’s not too late to take this fantastic prenatal class by Liesel at Mommy Labor Nurse to be super ready to meet your little one.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get into the reason you are here in the first place.
📌 PIN FOR LATER!
12 THINGS TO WEAR WHEN GIVING BIRTH
#1. A HOSPITAL GOWN
Most mums wear a hospital gown when giving birth.
Do note that in some hospitals, it’s mandatory to wear their hospital gown. Also, having certain procedures like a C-Section will mean you’ll have to wear a hospital gown.
There are several pros to wearing hospital clothes especially if you are having a hospital birth.
- Because birth is messy, hospital gowns are easy to discard when they get stained with blood, sweat, tears, poop (the baby’s or yours!) So your outfits are not ruined in the process
- They have openings at the back to make getting an epidural easy
- Openings allow for easy access to the baby monitor
- Good precaution in case you need to go in for surgery
- Great for skin to skin and breastfeeding
- In this pandemic, it’s one less thing to have to take back to your home (reducing transmission of germs and viruses)
- A lot of women complain that hospital gowns are not very comfortable
- They aren’t the prettiest clothes, to be honest
Sheree had her baby in a hospital in the United States and says it was mandatory to wear a hospital gown. She noted, however, that if given a choice,
“I would have worn a large, breathable dress (with comfortable access to the chest for breastfeeding). Ideally, it would have provided more coverage than the hospital gown and easy access to the obvious areas. Anything that would have provided more comfort and coverage would have been better. It’s important for moms to feel as confident as possible and the standard hospital gown in the US creates a feeling of compromised dignity for many of us”.
A good alternative to the hospital gown is a birthing gown or a maternity hospital gown.
These gowns for labour and delivery are designed to make you comfortable and give you confidence during birth.
Different retailers like Amazon and Etsy sell cute hospital gowns.
You can also wear pretty birthing gowns to take cute pictures and to receive visitors after giving birth.
- They can be used once and disposed of if too messy
- They are more comfortable than the standard hospital gowns
- They either have a low back for easy epidural application or a buttoned-down back
- The front opens up to allow for easy monitoring of your baby
- Some come with matchy onesies for you and baby to colour coordinate. So, so cute!
- It’ll cost you some money. Compared to wearing what you already have or a standard hospital gown.
- It could get ruined beyond repair. Then again, that’s why you bought it.
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#3. A BUTTONED DOWN NIGHTGOWN
Some women find the hospital gown uncomfortable. So, they get a nightgown. It’s important to get a front buttoned-down gown like this one if you plan to breastfeed your baby.
Lisa says she “wore a short nightgown” for her home birth.
So, if you are planning to have a home birth, a nightgown is a good labour outfit.
A disadvantage of wearing a nightgown is that it may be a bit difficult to get the epidural in (if you plan to get one).
Also, putting on the baby monitor may require you to forfeit your modesty to an extent.
Are you planning to have a water birth? Then, a bikini top or tankini are great options to wear when giving birth in water.
A tankini is great if you desire a bit more coverage (or you know you’ll have a few relatives and friends in the birthing room with you).
Maternity halter neck tankinis are particularly more comfortable and suitable for a birth pool.
Bikini tops and tankinis make really good birthing outfits for water birth.
#5. COMFY BRA
You may find in labour that you don’t care what you are wearing. All you want is to get your baby out as soon and as safely as possible.
Many mums find a bra to be comfortable to wear when in labour. The good news is you can wear a bra alone or under a cute hospital gown, a nightgown or a dressing robe as long as you’re comfortable.
The best bras for labour and delivery are:
The only downside is that sports bras may not provide easy access for breastfeeding if you have IV tubes in.
So get a sports bra with hooks in front for easy access to the breasts.
Bras are also great birthing clothes if you plan to have a water birth or to use a birthing pool.
It’s easy to forget that labour isn’t just the pushing stage. For many mums, it could last hours between each labour stages before your baby eventually makes an appearance.
During the earlier stages of labour, you can wear a bathrobe or light dressing gown. This is especially useful and convenient if you need to walk the hospital corridors for labour to progress faster.
Like I said earlier, birth is messy. You may find yourself constantly feeling the urge to pee, or having mucous discharge.
Instead of going to the toilet numerous times, an adult nappy or sanitary pad will do the job.
If you get an epidural, you don’t have to worry about this as a urine catheter will be inserted.
Adult nappies or sanitary pads are great to wear during the early stages of labour.
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Many women complain that it gets really hot when you are giving birth. It’s true.
You may want to remove all your clothing in labour and give birth naked!
Jen Samad had a vaginal birth in a US hospital. She says she wore “a gown then nothing cuz I got so hot!”
I agree with her 100%. I had my second son naked save a bra. It was late summer and I was so so hot and felt restricted!
I asked the midwife if I could remove my dress. She said yes. And off it went!
You can also go commando for a water birth.
I have to say though, it’s more likely to see mums give birth naked in a birth centre or when they have a non-medicated natural birth, rather than with an epidural.
#9. COMFY MAXI DRESS
This is another great outfit to wear when giving birth. Maternity maxi dresses are perfect birthing clothes! They’re very comfortable and great for walking the halls in labour.
I wore a maxi dress for my second son’s birth before going commando!
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#10. YOUR HUSBAND’S SHIRT
This is one of my personal favourites. Not only will your husband’s shirt be a personal touch, but it also likely be oversized and so comfortable.
Another plus, is if it gets ruined, well, better his shirt than yours!
- Other variations are tops, tank tops, long t-shirts, oversized t-shirts, cotton nightshirts.
One good thing about wearing a top when giving birth is that you would be able to take and share some pretty decent after birth pictures!
I love what Eline says about her labour outfit, “I wore one of my husband’s t-shirts. I just liked the idea. But it was also comfortable and it didn’t matter that it would get all kinds of bodily fluids all over it”.
#11. TANK TOP AND SKIRT
If you want, you can wear a maternity tank top and skirt like this one. As long as you are comfortable in it. It’s fine. The tank top will be fantastic for labouring in Summer.
When it’s time to push, you can pull off the skirt or lift it over your waist.
Socks can be comfy to wear in labour and somehow make you feel better. Get non-skid/non-slip socks. Socks with grips are great for walking the corridors.
You can also get the super fancy ones with cute sayings on the soles like relax, breathe, push.
Your socks may or may not get messed up in the process of labour depending on the position you are in when giving birth.
It’s also likely that if you’re so hot during labour, you won’t want to wear socks.
Planning for a caesarean section? You’ll have to wear compression socks to prevent blood clothes and deep vein thrombosis. The hospital will provide them.
There’s a variety of labour clothes you can wear when giving birth, not just the standard hospital gown.
You can decide to wear nothing at all! The truth is, when the intensity of labour hits, you wouldn’t care if you are fully clothed or completely naked!
Also, remember that bikini tops, tankinis, bras are great outfits for water birth. You can also go into the birth pool completely naked if you want.
I hope this post has helped you decide on what to wear when giving birth.
You can check out these other posts:
- 25 ways dads can support their wives in labour
- 15 uncommon things you can forget to pack in your hospital bag
- The postpartum care kit you need for a fast delivery
- The best birthing classes on YouTube
- 17 Last-minute items to include in your hospital bag
- What to do if you’re scared of giving birth again
- What to wear for a water birth (10 different options)
- How big should your hospital bag be?
Praying for a safe birth and a healthy baby for you!