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Dressed to Deliver – What to Wear For Your Birth
May 25, 2017 8:00 am | by
Dressed to Deliver - Do you have to wear a hospital gown when giving birth?

There is so much to think about and plan during a pregnancy that some of the minor details get overlooked. You may not think about what to wear while giving birth until you are actually in labor and giving birth! Then random thoughts may pop up: “This gown is itchy!“, “Why are all hospital gowns blue?”, “Does my backside really need exposed to everyone while I walk the hallway?”. At that time you may start to regret not planning for your clothing needs during childbirth and packing something a little more comfortable in your labor bag.

If you are planning to birth outside of a hospital (home or birth center) you may be required to bring your own clothing to labor in and for afterward. If you are birthing in a hospital, they will provide patient gowns. There are advantages and disadvantages to wearing the traditional hospital gown.

You may feel more comfortable in your own clothing and less like a patient. The detergent used on hospital linen may cause itching and rashes for those with sensitive skin. These gowns are designed for industrial use and are repeatedly worn and washed which may cause snaps to get broken, straps to fall off, etc. and these minor annoyances may become very distracting in an intense setting such as labor. Also consider that they are made for easy access and with a big pregnant belly pulling material to the front, that leaves little coverage for the backside. Best to bring a robe from home for backside coverage.

An advantage to hospital gowns is that as soon as they get messy (and labor and birth can get messy), they can be removed and a fresh gown put on. There is an almost endless supply! Hospital gowns are also made for quick access for emergency purposes so they have snaps and ties that can make getting them on and off easier as well as helping with breastfeeding or when dealing with an I.V. line.

If you decide that you do not want to wear a hospital gown, there are many options. You may choose to use familiar night gowns from home, a tank top or camisole with shelf bra paired with a skirt, or a long soft t-shirt and sarong wrap.
Points to consider when choosing your clothing for labor and delivery:

• This clothing may get stained
• It may need to be cut off in an emergency situation
• Ease of access to your belly for monitoring, your breasts for breastfeeding, and access for vaginally exams and going to the bathroom
• Ease of getting it on and off
• Loose fitting arms so the I.V. isn’t tugged on
• Coverage in case you are walking in the hallway

Plan to bring some pairs of socks and a pair of slippers. Nursing bras provide easy access for breastfeeding. Head bands and hair ties may help keep hair out of your face which can become bothersome especially during pushing time, but choose materials that are soft to the skin.

In my opinion one of the best choices are the labor dresses like Pretty Pushers or Gownies. These comfortable, roomy dresses are designed to give great coverage, easy access and style for your labor and birth. They come in many colors and styles. You can wash them at home in your own laundry products so you don’t have to worry about chemical sensitivity. They can be worn during the last trimester of pregnancy, on your birthing day and postpartum and during breastfeeding. The shoulder opening makes it convenient for I.V. access and breastfeeding. They come in many fabrics and patterns so it is easy to find one that appeals to you. I recommend having 2-3 gowns so they can be changed out during labor, and you can have a fresh for after baby comes.

Small comforts can make a big difference in your pregnancy and birth. Taking a little time now to prepare for labor and what you would like to wear during that time can provide peace of mind so you can focus on the task at hand.

Have a question for the midwife? Leave it in a comment below or email

About the Author

Ri has over 25 years’ experience in women's health. She is a mother of two and business owner of a holistic women's health and midwifery practice in Oklahoma. She is a Certified Natural Health Practitioner and is finishing her dissertation to become a Naturopathic Doctor. In her limited free time, she enjoys reading, hiking and caring for rescued retired racing greyhounds.


1 Comment

  • hannah said...
    May 25, 2017 at 10:35 pm

    I absolutely despise hospital gowns. The open back drives me insane, and I don’t see how they are optimal at all for belly or breast access. Also they are always too high in front that they annoy my neck, and the sleeves are way too bulky.
    Yes, a hospital gown would drive me insane during labor. I’m definitely going to come up with something better!