There’s a list for everything out there. Every single detail about your labor and birth experience has already been categorized and tagged by someone. If you search for birthing clothes, you’ll find them. In fact, your birthday suit is pretty much the only thing you can’t buy online to wear during your home birth.
No matter where you’re birthing, you’ve likely entertained the idea of what to wear. As it turns out, this decision ranks high with many women. You’d think we’re picking out wedding gowns. But what we’re wearing when we’re meeting our child for the first time is important to us. What if we don’t make a good first impression?
Just kidding. Still, the reality is, we want to be comfortable, and truth be told, some of us just aren’t comfortable if we feel like we don’t look nice. While we’re not suggesting anyone labor around their house in high heels, we’ve got options ladies. It’s high time we use them.
Take Into Account Where You’re Birthing
Are you wondering what to wear during labor at a birth center as 0.5 percent of women do? (Source) Or even in your own home as 1.28 percent of women do? (Source) The options are endless. It is crystal clear that none of us intend to birth in a hospital gown. Thank goodness! Are those things ever flattering on anyone?
Still, you may be more likely to wear something more revealing if you’re at home than birthing at a birth center. Or, you might not. You know you best. Taking into account what your surroundings will be like during labor and birth can go a long way here. Consider the following:
- Who will be present at the birth?
- Will there be a lot of nurses or other birth workers around?
- Are you comfortable being naked or scarcely clothed in front of strangers?
- Will there be birth photography, and does wardrobe matter to you in that respect?
How Are You Planning To Give Birth?
So you’ve settled on birthing at home, but you’re not positive on what method you’re most inclined to opt for. Once upon a time, you figured home birth meant you gave birth at home in your bed.
But then you heard about water birth and assumed you’d need a home birth pool. Then things got even wilder and you found yourself wondering if you’d be one of those women that ends up pushing her baby out while sitting on a toilet, or standing, or upon a birthing stool.
How are you supposed to know how things are going to go when you’re actually in the thick of it? That’s easy! You can’t!
You’ll have no idea what jives with your mind and body most until you are in those precious moments where your mind is telling you that you can’t do this anymore as your body proves to you it can.
So where do you start? At the beginning, momma. Start right here—and plan for everything.
Planning for every possible outcome sounds ideal, doesn’t it? Listen, I practice what I preach and my midwife can tell you the size of my “labor bin” was one of the biggest that Rubbermaid makes.
I had it filled to the brim with every single accouterment that one could possible fathom wanting to have while waiting for Mother Nature and the Fetal Ejection Reflex to take hold, and there was absolutely room in that bin for wardrobe changes.
Call us high maintenance, but some of us just love to know we have options, even if we never make use of them. It’s okay, momma, you do you.
One would think that by the time we ar birthing baby number three or four, all moms would know better. We’d realize there’s no time for all of that and we don’t care about when we’re in the throes of labor, right? Wrong. We care deeply, and we might care even more if the choices weren’t available to us. Blame Murphy’s Law.
Consider How You Will Feel When You’re Actually In Labor
That being said, do lend some thought to what you think you’ll want to experience during your birth. Do you become irritable when in pain? Is it likely that you won’t want to be touched? Sometimes that notion only extends to doulas and partners, but in other cases, women may not even be able to bear the feeling of clothing on their skin.
Taking extra precautions and keeping that in mind when selecting your labor wardrobe can go a long way. Remember that the smoothest of fabrics are the most likely to appeal to you then. When you’re scanning your options for birthing attire, ask yourself:
- Will the fabric move with you as you sway from side to side with your arms wrapped around your hubby’s neck?
- Will this fabric keep you cool versus trapping heat? (Yes, this is important even in the dead of Winter.)
- Is the fabric light so that air may pass through it?
You also might not care for the weight of clothing. So, choosing something that keeps things light and breezy is a good bet to make. Gravity is already increasing the pain you’ll feel during labor, but going into it with a positive mindset and knowing you are prepared to limit drug use and other interventions only tends to improve birth outcomes. (Source)
Sometimes, the laboring mother isn’t keen on clothing with zippers or buttons either. They can feel annoying or bothersome against the skin, and they make it take longer to remove. When a woman in labor decides she wants her clothes off, she wants them off now.
Of course, if this is your first time around the birthing block, you may not know what to expect from yourself at all. That’s okay. You can plan ahead by making sure you include staple pieces. Not to sound like too much of a What Not To Wear fanatic, but having a back-up outfit isn’t a terrible idea.
If you can’t decide whether to wearing pants or a knee-length nightie, buy both if the budget allows. You’ll make use of both in the weeks to come anyway as you’re adjusting to life without sleep and hardly ever getting out of pajamas.
So What Should You Be Wearing When You Meet Your Baby?
There’s no better time to test your ability to withstand discomfort than during childbirth.
1. A Custom-Made Labor Gown From Etsy
Admittedly, a lot of us swoon over these gowns. Etsy came along a few years ago and capitalized on pretty much all things pretty. The fabrics are soft to the touch, but light and airy.
They don’t hug any of the spots we don’t want them hugging. They compliment the dewy, I just pushed out this baby look we all expect to boast postpartum, though only a few of us end up that fortunate.
From solids to modern prints to florals, the design options for these labor gowns are practically endless. Some are knee-length while others drape against the floor for a more flowing effect. They sure do look fit for a goddess.
2. Pants, Please
This may be the most uncommon choice of laboring attire around. Believe it or not, some women do labor in pants. Not everyone is comfortable in dresses. In fact, some women prefer to never wear them.
Yoga pants aren’t solely reserved for postpartum life. They offer support and a sleek feeling during labor. This can be particularly helpful for mommas who don’t want to feel the weight of clothing on their bodies or the tug of fabric as they move around. Oh yes, at a time like this, even that can be extremely annoying.
3. The Nursing Nightgown
Nursing nighties, like most breastfeeding-based attire, are usually made of pretty soft and supple fabric. Not only are they typical uber-comfy, but they have drop tops that allow for easy nursing access. If no one has told you yet, this is going to be of importance when you’re a new momma.
Babies tend to breastfeed nearly around the clock in those first couple of months. Allowing them to and offering them the breast frequently is essentially to making sure you establish a good supply of milk. (Source)
4. A Dress For All Occasions
Sure, some women prefer to sport a dress when they’re preparing to welcome their baby into the world. It doesn’t have to be a fancy dress; no cocktail attire required.
But a sundress might suit a mom rather well if she’s birthing in the right season. Something that can be easily lifted up—or better yet something that won’t drag on the ground at all—is ideal.
5. A Nursing Tank And Undies
This is a pretty common ensemble for mothers-to-be. Many of us desire something that isn’t going to allow us to overheat too easily, but still keeps us well-covered.
Not every woman is brimming with excitement over going nude in front of others in what will be the most vulnerable moment of her life to begin with. That’s okay. Comfy maternity undies and a drop-top style nursing tank is the perfect option for a home birth in such cases.
6. A Bathing Suit
If you’re planning to birth in bed or elsewhere on land, your beachwear will probably stick out like a sore thumb. On the other hand, if it’s a water birth you’ve got your sights set on, then pull that swimsuit out and get ready to ride those waves—of contractions, that is.
A bathing suit—even just the top half—is just enough to help modest women feel covered up during a water birth. It also serves a good purpose for mothers who hope to share videos of their home births with friends or family that they don’t want to expose everything to.
7. A Bra And Panties
If a nursing tank isn’t quite your speed, opting for a nursing bra or just a regular sports bra is high on many women’s lists. While a nursing tank can offer ease of access to the breast after baby is born and eager to learn that breast crawl, some moms aren’t keen on the extra material that comes with them—especially if they have plans to water birth. This is an ideal alternative.
8. Daddy’s Comfiest Tee
If you’re not at all bothered by extra material—in the water and out—diving into one of Daddy’s old t-shirts might be just what you need. They’re worn in and comfy. They feel like they’re hugging you back, and they just might be at nine months along. But that jersey tee fabric may be just what the midwife called for.
9. Grab A Robe
While you’re perusing those labor gowns on Etsy, you might find that the site offers up plenty in the way of robes to labor in as well. Some mommas find these to be a great accompaniment to their birthing wardrobe while others are keen on using the robe alone and nothing else. It keeps them comfortable while allowing for easy removal when it’s time for birth and easy access to the breast afterward.
10. Your Birthday Suit
Last on the list is certainly one of the most common reported outfits for home birth, and it’s no less important—even though no floral prints apply. It should surprise no one that many women prefer to give birth in the buff.
In our most primal state, we are mammalian creatures producing our family’s next lifeline. We are fierce, and a force to be reckoned with. Just try telling a laboring mother that she can’t do something she’s set on doing.
If the thought of clothing against your skin as you breathe through contractions after contraction makes your skin want to crawl away, the classic birthday suit may be your best bet.
Remember You’ve Got Options
You’re going to hear lots of opinions on this if you ask for them, and you might even get some opinions you don’t ask for. That’s home birth for you! One mom loves the feel of a satin or silk nightgown on her skin during her dimly lit bathtub birth while the other is just fine birthing in the nude a plastic trough on her back porch so long as she can be in the sunlight. The point is, we’re all very different.
Birth is an intimate time in which you’re going to get to know yourself on a whole other level. Part of the knowledge you’ll gain is about just what you can handle while keeping your cool. In other words, you’ll discover how far you can be pushed before you scream, snap at your partner or rip your own clothing off. No worries, this is all a part of the process and a learning experience for the next birth.
How Much Do These Varying Choices In Birthing Attire Cost?
The cost of a great birth wardrobe can vary. You could rock a swimsuit top for less than $20, or it might end up costing a fortune if it’s name brand. Custom-made gowns aren’t known to be cheap, but some options—like a nursing nightgown from Amazon.com—can be affordable for almost any budget. Of course, nothing is quite as free as going nude—both figuratively and literally.
The Choice Is Yours
While others can give suggestions, this will be your birth experience. Your comfort is of the utmost importance. Truthfully, we all hope to look positively glowing in our birth photos, but remember that this is the last time you should be suffering in the name of beauty. From bikini tops and long, flowing skirts to wearing nothing at all, go with what feels right and you can’t go wrong.