I am frequently asked about the patient gowns that women are given to wear in labor. Mothers want to know if they should and/or have to use them.
Comfort is important.
Many moms worry more about how their feet will look or shaving their legs before labor begins than what they will wear in labor. It is good to feel comfortable in labor. If getting a pedicure before delivery puts a mother at ease, then she should get one! The clothes a laboring woman is wears during the hours of labor and birth may have a bigger impact on her comfort than the color of her toenails.
What are you allowed to wear in the hospital?
You do have a choice! I have labored mothers in everything from being absolutely naked. to being covered hear to toe. You are not required to wear a hospital gown. You can wear whatever makes you feel comfortable. There are some restrictions in the operating room. If you are having a scheduled cesarean section or end up there after laboring, you will need to wear the hospital gown. Hospital gowns are preferred in these situations due to infection risks and the types of monitoring equipment used in the surgery. If you still would like to wear something else to surgery discuss your options with your nurse or doctor.
Pros and Cons of the hospital gown
There is a fresh one waiting whenever needed.
You don’t have to worry about getting blood, poop or vomit out of it later.
Some are designed for breastfeeding or monitoring ease.
They are made to accommodate a large variety of sizes and usually do not fit well.
Modesty can be an issue, especially while walking in the halls.
Hospital gowns can make you feel like a sick patient and less empowered.
What are my clothing options?
Occasionally I have labored a mother whom was only comfortable completely naked. These were all patients that were laboring unmedicated. I provided modesty when she requested it with sheets. Tank tops or breastfeeding tanks are popular. Sweat pants, shorts or yoga pants are easy to slip off for cervical checks and are comfortable for labor. Skirts are comfortable, modest and do not need to be taken off for pushing. There are specialty lines for labor clothes for example: http://www.prettypushers.com. The specialty clothing is designed to accommodate monitoring equipment and maximize utility and comfort. If you do not want to pay the specialty price, there are plenty of other options. In my most comfortable delivery I wore a breastfeeding tank and a maxi skirt with a wide, elastic waist band. The ultrasound and toco monitors fit in the band so that I did not need to wear the monitor belts. I moved around very comfortably and always felt modest. When it was time to push it was easy to pull the skirt up and out of the way of the delivery. I did not plan on wearing the skirt again, but I was happy to find that the evidence of delivery washed out easily. I wore that skirt multiple times in my postpartum months.
If you choose to wear the hospital gown for labor and delivery you can still wear your own clothes after delivery. It is good idea to bring 2-3 pairs of comfortable, stretchy clothes with you for your postpartum stay and the drive home. The hospital’s maternity underwear are disposable and great for giant pads. Some moms prefer to bring in their own underwear or brief type panties. Hospitals will often provide slip resistant socks for their patients. You can bring in your own socks or slippers if you wish. Breastfeeding moms will spend a lot of time with the baby skin to skin during the first few days. Nursing bras are not vital for the hospital unless you feel uncomfortable without a bra. You may want to wait to buy nursing bras until after your first week at home since your bra size will likely change.
The bottom line.
Its your bottom and you can cover it however you wish!