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What should you wear when giving birth?

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10 Reviews

This is for the parents out there to share their tips with soon to be mothers as to what are the most comfortable and appropriate clothes to wear during labour.

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      26.09.2013 16:34
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      comfort is a must

      Having just had my second baby (less than 6 weeks ago!) I feel I'm qualified to talk about labour and the many preparations you should make for it. Everyone is different so whatever you pack in your hospital bag will vary from person to person but there are some definite musts when it comes to packing the hospital bag.

      It sounds silly but with my first baby I was very prepared - my birth plan was written at 12 weeks and my hospital bag packed at 20 weeks ;). Of course the majority of the contents of my bag was useless - plenty of moisturizers were packed away but I didn't think to pack things like face wipes or tooth paste. I also didn't think to pack anything to wear while I was in labour. I assumed I'd come into hospital wearing whatever I'd give birth in so didn't give it much thought.

      I'd read on various pregnancy forums that most hospitals provide gowns but that a lot of mothers didn't want to wear the hospital gowns and opted to wear their own nighties or husbands old T-shirt - loose, baggy and so what if it gets manky? You can just chuck it away. I wasn't really sure what I thought of wearing a hospital gown, the idea seemed clinical and a bit depressing but I was sure my hospital wouldn't insist on it and that I'd get to wear my own clothes. Then I went into labour, 6 days past my due date, and while I managed to labour at home in my own clothes (an old nightie I'd had for years and happened to be wearing because I didn't want to stretch out anything nice over my massive pregnancy belly) when it came to coming to hospital they were pretty keen to get me into a hospital gown. I felt like the last thing I had control over was literally being stripped away so asked why they were so insistent I wear a hospital gown. "Well it means you don't have to get your own clothes ruined," the midwife explained. Also? It's easier to administer an epidural when a patient is wearing a hospital gown, what with the open back giving easy access to the spine.

      As I put the hospital gown on I was taken aback with how comfortable it was - and how soft! It did get very messy (my baby had opened his bowels in the womb and was pretty well marinated in meconium at birth so when they'd passed him to me for first cuddles it went everywhere) with all kinds of fluids and had I been wearing something of my own it would have been ruined. Washable, yes, but hardly nice to ask someone to take it home and wash it for me. If you're breastfeeding - which I was - then you'll want to be able to feed your baby as soon as possible and this is when what you wear during labour is key. Your baby will need access to your breasts so they can feed and as most hospitals encourage skin to skin contact at birth then the same issues arise.

      I had a traumatic first time experience - it took them three hours to stitch me up and my son wasn't fed until six long hours after his birth! - so I wasn't wearing the hospital gown when I first fed my first son. For my second birth I decided I would wear a hospital gown during labour as soon as I found out I was pregnant ;). I had to be induced due to having diabetes this second time around so I was in hospital from Thursday - Sunday and gave birth on the Saturday night. It felt great being able to peel off the soiled, manky hospital gown, jump into a hot shower and back into my clean PJs and a freshly made up bed right after giving birth. I know wearing a hospital gown isn't for everyone as people like to feel comfortable in their own clothes but I can recommend it. I'd had an epidural for my first labour under doctors orders and having the gown on made it easier to administer.

      If you weren't going to wear a hospital gown there are a few options you could go for:

      Wearing husbands/partners old T-shirt: easy to throw out after labour, loose (if your significant other is bigger than you, of course!) and baggy over bump.

      Buying a big T-shirt/nightie: obvious option, I suppose, but you could buy a cheap nightie or big T-shirt and throw it out - or wash and keep it.

      Wearing something you already have: A good option, probably works even better in the cases of a home birth where you can pick and choose what you wear and then just throw in the washing machine as and when. If you are going to wear something you want to take home and wash I'd suggest bringing a plastic bag to put it into for taking home.

      Going naked: I thought this is the option I'd like to go for but ended up feeling vulnerable (and cold!) enough so didn't opt for it. Plenty of women do, especially those who have water births. A few friends of mine who've had water births have opted for wearing a bikini/tankini top in the birthing pool which, to me, sounds like a great option.

      All in all it's a personal decision what you wear when you are in labour but if you're unsure then it's probably best to have a few options on hand. It also depends on the type of labour you have - i.e a waterbirth versus a labour spent hunched over a birthing ball ;). The point is that labour is something you should be comfortable doing. If you feel at your most comfortable with a full face of make up or in an old T-shirt it doesn't matter as long as you're comfortable!

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        15.11.2010 20:17
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        When it comes down to it, you wont remember what you wore giving birth, so dont fret!

        I very recently (8 weeks ago to be exact!!) gave birth to my first child, a baby girl. She was very eagerly awaited, and I had my hospital bag packed for literally MONTHS....just "incase"!!! I had written list upon list of what to take with me to the hospital when I was in labour and had packed two bags, one for the delivery suite and one for on the ward with my baby clothes and going home outfit etc.

        I had given it some thought as to what I would wear to give birth, I had never been through it before and didnt know how it would all happen, would I remain in my own clothes to give birth, would I be given a gown? Would I end up naked!!!!

        It all depends on the birthing situation at the end of the day!

        Water Birth:

        For a water birth, you will obviously not be wearing your PJs and slippers...I have watched numerous birthing vids of women naked in the birthing pools which I never understand, I simply couldn't be naked in front of my mother, and numerous docs, ok my husband would have loved it...but I certainly wouldn't!!! You may want to go out and buy a swimming "dress", which is something made of the same material as a swimming costume, but has no bottoms to it, but covers your modesty for when your up and out of the pool- these are more expensive than a generic bikini top, but if your conscious of walking around naked, then this may be an option. But, any old tankini top or bikini top will do!! You could even cut the bottom off an old swimming costume!

        C-Section:

        Of course for a C- Section (a planned one anyway!) you will be given a gown to wear, but you will want a baggy nightgown in for after the birth as you will be on the ward for a few days recovering and you want to be comfortable. Nothing around the tummy or anything that you need to bend over to put on!

        Home Birth/Delivery Suite Birth:

        For this you will want something light, very light! Delivery suites are VERY hot, as of course newborns cannot regulate their own temperature and need to be kept warm, the rooms cannot be even remotely cool, so you will NEED something which is very light and I would go for something at LEAST 2 sizes too big for you (even in bump state!) as this will ensure lots of air is getting to you and your not feeling restricted, take it for me, everything will annoy you in labour, and a clingy nightgown is the last thing you want to worry about!

        I would go for either an old nightgown you don't care about ruining (mine actually came out of the labour in perfect condition as there was no blood or little blood!), but I suggest going out and buying a brand new one, I got mine for £5 from Matalan, it isn't pretty, and I wouldn't have chosen it for a fashion statement, it is a size 26 which is 3 sizes bigger than my usual size so it HANGS off me. Its almost at my ankles its so long, BUT it is very comfortable, light and airy and it didn't cause me any problems when I was in labour.

        In most circumstances you will be given a hospital gown before you actually start "pushing", but in some cases labour comes on very quickly, and you end up staying in your own nightgown, so DON'T choose pyjamas with bottoms for your own sake! Trying to bend over to take them off yourself with a heart monitor attached to your tummy and with contractions coming every few seconds is NOT easy!!!!!!

        I had thought about what I was going to wear in labour for months, but when it came down to it, I don't even remember putting the nightgown on, I don't remember anything about it, don't bother choosing something pretty which you love...get that in your normal pre pregnancy size and put it to one side for after the birth as a special post pregnancy treat instead!! Don't spend a fortune on an expensive maternity gown...just get one in a much bigger size than normal, it will probably go in the bin after the birth especially if it has had blood all over it!!! Also in an emergency situation, it may have to be cut off- of course this is extreme and highly unlikely to occur, but would you want a £40 nightgown cut off you?! I know I wouldn't be happy!!!

        I hope this advice has helped, it has come from my own experience and the pointers I have given made me very comfortable in my labour, I didn't have the added stress of uncomfortable clothes as well as labour and contractions to cope with, and my nightgown made it easy for the midwives to get access to my nether regions without messing around too much with pants and shorts!

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          07.06.2010 22:26
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          Just my own thoughts.

          This review is based on my experience of giving birth to my daughter, almost seven years ago . I've read a few reviews saying that worry about what you are wearing should be the last thing on your mind when giving birth, but I disagree somewhat .

          My first tip, as with many others, is to have your hospital bag packed well in advance . Babies are not that predictable - you could end up giving birth either early or late, and it's always good to be ready . Where I differ from many opinions is to have the things you are going to need while in labour packed at the top of the bag, so that you're not going to be rummaging about in an agonised panic. Even better, have two bags - one for labour, and one for all the essentials you'll be needing afterwards. Having the things you know you're going to need close to hand will save you a load of stress .

          Depending on the type of birth you are going to have, your needs may vary - for example, for a water birth, you may like to add flip flops and a bikini top to the list. Don't just wear a loose white t-shirt, unless you like the wet t-shirt look .

          However, below are my essentials that I wish I'd had when I went into labour . (I had originally planned for a waterbirth, but circumstances made that impossible)

          1) - 2 (at least) baggy T-shirt style nighties. Now, I did pack one of these. Only one . Not realising that by the end of my labour this would be coated with blood, vomit, and a little bit of poop. I didn't have anything else to change into afterwards, and ended up wearing a butt-baring hospital gown, which was not the most pleasant of experiences.

          The reason I specify T-shirt style night dresses is that they provide easy access, whilst still covering your butt when you need to get up.

          2) A dressing gown or bath robe . I didn't bring one, and I regret it now . My labour was quite long and slow progressing, and I was encouraged to get up and walk around in the hopes of walking off my own stress, and encouraging my daughter to get a move on in arriving. Hospital corridors are maintained by air conditioning at a pretty constant temperature, and can be pretty cold . You might even want to step out into the fresh air, and a dressing gown will help keep you warm .

          3) Slippers, for the exact same reason as above.

          4) A hair bobble, if your hair is long . Another item I forgot when I was heading to the hospital . My hair was quite long, and got all over the place. By the time my daughter finally made her entrance, it was plastered flat to my head with sweat and vomit ( I really can't handle my pethodine) and I wish I'd had the foresight to tie it back out of my face.

          5) Socks -The only bit of my body that actually got cold during labour (apart from when I was walking around) was my feet, so some comfy socks are very handy .

          6) Comfy Knickers - you probably won't want to wear these during the labour, but if you get up and walk around, it's always nice to have your bum covered!

          I would stress not to wear anything you don't want ruined -all sorts of gunk gets everywhere during labour, and most light coloured clothes will be ruined.

          This is the stuff I wish I had taken with me to the labour ward. As it was, I made do with the one nightie, and got very cold when wandering about . Hope this helps someone!

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            09.02.2010 13:47
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            Don't waste time worrying about what to wear, you really won't care in the end!

            The best advice I can give anyone is to not wear anything expensive or new or anything that you don't want ruined.

            I hunted everywhere for a maternity nightie that was dark in colour so that no mess would show up on it and the cheapest new ones I could find cost at least £10. There was no way I was going to waste £10 on something that would get covered in blood and completely ruined.

            I ended up buying a second hand dark blue breast feeding nightie off ebay for 99p and it was perfect.

            It was well worn so not new and scratchy. It was so comfortable and I couldn't have cared less whether it was covered in blood and whatever else.

            The last thing you'll care about when you're labour is what you are wearing. So don't put too much thought into it apart from I suggest you go for something dark so you can't see the blood. White is really not a good idea or you'll look like you've been involved in some kind of massacre.

            Needless to say after I took my nightie off when it was all over I never saw it again and presume the midwife threw it stright in the bin.

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            31.01.2010 15:57

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            Something easy to take on and off, something cool and cotton

            I had packed an old red T shirt of my husband's to give birth in, thinking it wouldn't matter if it got blood on it. In the event, I didn't actually take off my maternity top I was wearing the day I went in to give birth - which to me shows you can prepare only so much! In the midst of labour, the last thing I cared about was what I was wearing or the fact I was wearing my favourite pale mint maternity top. Afterwards I did inevitably have to throw it away. If I did it all again, I would make sure I was wearing my comfiest/least trendy maternity top so it really wouldn't matter if I got it messy, but hindsight is a great thing. Generally though, for the whole hospital stay, you really want to be wearing loose cotton material. Hospitals are so hot at the best of times, but if you are giving birth in the summer, you really need the loosest of T shirts or nighties to give birth in.

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            04.02.2009 23:07
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            Be comfortable not glamourous!

            It's funny because there are so many things to think about when having a baby and then it comes to deciding what to wear when you are giving birth. If you have a c-section whether it be emergency or elective then you are gowned up so you don't need to wear a nightdress at that point. After you come out of theatre and are bed-bathed then you will need a comfortable and baggy nightdress / nightshirt to wear, ideally with buttons or opening down the front should you wish to breast feed. If you are lucky enough to have a normal vaginal birth then you will need something comfortable to wear. Don't buy expensive nightdresses - tescos or mothercare will do. Giving birth is messy business and you will most probably throw it out once you have given birth to get into a fresh one. I had a couple of baggy ones ready for the main event and then slipped into a more elegant one, I can't say sexy because it was far from it. You do want to look good once giving birth but you probably don't have the energy straight away to get all dressed up and besides forget privacy - that goes out the window! Your not expected to look glamourous on the ward if you happen to stay in overnight. Also, entering parenthood is expensive business so don't splash out on things you don't plan on using again!

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            27.01.2009 10:50

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            choosing what to wear for labour - my views on it

            Night dress or shirt to give birth in? ........... This is a difficult one. I think that it depends entirely on how you feel , but let me tell you , that nothing you wear will feel comfortable to you at the time of giving birth. When I had my first baby in 2007 , I packed some big night dresses and some big baggy T - shirts. This way I could change if I felt the need. As it was I gave birth to my son in the big baggy T - shirt. I thought that I would want something to wear that would come down to my knees for privacy reasons , but you soon realise that the pain of labour is so bad that you don't care who sees what , as they are going to see your bits at some point anyway. I wore a black T - shirt, and I am pleased that I did because of all the blood , at least this way I didn't look like an extra from a horror movie.

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            08.12.2008 14:35
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            Take a selection but you could just use the hospitals

            Yes guys - this is a real issue!

            Why ... Because of the following reasons.

            1. You want to be comfy. It's hard work and a skin tight number would not be in order.
            2. You don't want to be too hot or cold. Therefore the material can't be too thin or thick, sleeves not too long or short.
            3. It has to cover your 'bits' if you decide to start walking around so not too short. But not too long either as it has to be lifted up for baby to come out and for the midwifes to check.
            4. If you want to breast feed after birth it has to allow that to happen.
            5. It will get covered in blood, sweat and tears so will probably never get worn again.
            6. Many pictures of you may be taken in the pre and post birth time so you may want to look your best!

            Lots of women go for an old baggy t shirt. I took in a choice of two nighties - one form Primark and another from Mothercare.

            However on arrival at hospital there was a standard pink gown on my bed that was nice and baggy and roomy. Why wreck my clothes I thought so I ended up just using theirs and it did the job perfectly. I coudl then put on my nice clean one when the job was finished!

            Thanks for reading.

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              07.06.2008 16:40
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              wear something old

              When preparing to bring your new little bundle into the world every mother wants everything to be new, sparkling and perfect but this is not the case with the nighty you are going to give birth in, i would sugest using an old nighty or a large old t shirt of hubbys as there is not a lot of point in going out and buying new clothing to give birth in as it will almost definately be ruined due to the messy nature of this task.

              What every you decide to wear i would sugest you choose something that is dark in colour, as dark as possible as this wont show so much of the mess if you do want to wash it the stains will come out easier but also it can be a bit daunting to a first time mum to see how much mess there is and with a dark nighty it wont look as bad.

              I didnt even bother to bring the clothing i gave birth in home with me to wash i asked the midwife who had delivered the baby to dispose of it with the rest of the rubbish so using something old was a real advantage in the fact that i didnt mind binning it.

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                03.09.2005 00:13
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                Don't worry about it! There is more important things about to happen to you!

                .. The tale of the hideous pink creation ..It has a relevent point, honest!!...

                I'm not entirely sure that there is much of a difference when choosing whether to wear a nightdress or shirt to give birth in. I suppose it is mostly one of personal taste. When i was preparing for the birth of my first daughter, Kiri, i kind of left this to the last minute. Heavily pregnant i waddled to Matalan and fearing labour to be the kind of experience where every surface in the room would quickly be covered in all sorts of goo and unmentionables i finally decided to spend my money on cute baby clothes instead and hastily shoved a hideous pink cotton nightie, 50p in the sale - and you could see why! (...no offence intended to Matalan, which produces some killer outfits at bargain prices....) to the bottom of my basket where no-one could see it and think it was actually what i might wear to try and seduce my husband in the bedroom! Not that I'd been doing that much seducing looking like a beached whale!
                Anyway after the initial embarrassment of the midwives seeing me in the revolting thing i quickly forgot all animosity towards it. Helped I'm sure by the increasing pain and effects of the "lovely" drugs they were giving me to ease it! Anyway the nightie never got dirty so i could have worn a beautiful designer one (if my purse had stretched to it!) and i have now developed a strange bond with it! meaning i cannot for the life of me throw it away, even though it has certainly seen better days!! It is now my favourite article of clothing and my lucky 'giving birth' nightie that i have worn to the births of all my children. I guess that whatever you wear to a life changing event such as bringing a new life into the world will become special to you so i wouldn't worry too much about it!! However, I have listed some of the benefits that i can think of for 'labour attire' below.

                Nightie: *Keeps you decent. *Comfy, soft and homely.

                Shirt: *You could wear your partners -especially if he had already worn it or you squirted his aftershave on it because the smell would relax you...Just make sure its not his favourite as it might get stained!
                *You could open the buttons on it afterwards to allow you to breastfeed the baby easily.

                Pyjamas: No!! For obvious reasons!!

                Sweet F. A.:*Less washing to do when you get home with baby.
                *You won't really care if the whole world and his wife are watching you naked giving birth after you've been in labour a few hours.

                Anyway, i hope I've been of help!
                Kiri*cat

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