What should I wear in labour?

Sometimes this question of what to wear in labor comes up in my hypnobirthing class. I often suggest that women watch to see what women wore in the videos – hospital gowns, bra tops, towels, big t-shirts, bath robes, nothing at all, or whatever appeals at the time…    And when I think back on my own three labours, I realized that I wore all of the clothing on the above list at various times.

Consider that whatever you wear may get smudges of meconium, birth show and a good dose of amniotic fluid, socks included!

While you can be fully clothed in early labour, as labour advances you will probably be encouraged to take off your bottoms.

As you plan what to wear consider that you may want something long enough to cover your butt and something that will allow you to get your baby onto your chest right after birth without a lot of material bunched between your face and the baby.

Here’s one suggestion: a terry cloth spa wrap–one of those towels you wrap around and hold closed with velcro. Some have straps. They look like a bath robe made out of towel material.  They are great for hopping in and out of the tub or shower, open easily, and cover easily for modesty.  Plus they are really warm, if you get cold.

I find that often women worry and plan about what they are going to wear in labour.  Perhaps even spending money buying a special outfit that looks pretty, when in reality, in the heat of the moment…. you don’t care. You will care if you are too cold, or too hot.   But I promise you, you won’t care what you look like.   There are more important things to think about and do, when you are bringing a baby into the world!

However, if it makes you feel better to have a special outfit for the big day, here are three good options.

Binsi Labor and Birth Apparel sells side slit skirts and tops.   Bring Your own Gown offers classy, colourful and creatively designed hospital gowns, and Pretty Pushers makes dresses for labour.

I do however strongly advise you to invest a nice pair of nursing pyjamas, and at least one comfy lounge wear outfit that you will be able to wear after baby in born in the hospital and at home.  Because you will be buying this outfit while you are still pregnant, remember that you will be smaller after baby is born, but not like you were before you got pregnant.  Returning to that pre-pregnancy size takes months.  So buy your pyjamas in whatever size would have fit you when you were about 5 or 6 months pregnant… which is what you will look like right after the baby is born, at least for a while, during the time your uterus shrinks back to its pre-pregnancy pear size.  Local maternity stores carry good selections of these outfits.

Finally, for all of you reading this who have already given birth, I would love to know what you think of these ideas, what you wore and if  you have any other suggestions.

co-written by Marie Berwald, and Jennifer Elliot, fellow hypnobirthing practitioner in Toronto.


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