You may have looked at the title of this article and gone, “huh?”. You go to the hospital in labor wearing the clothes you want to wear. Simple, right? Actually it’s not always that easy. In this article, we’ll take a look at the challenges you may encounter if you choose to wear your own clothes in labor.
Before we get too far, let’s clarify one thing: you absolutely, categorically do not have to wear a hospital gown in labor. You can wear whatever you want, so long as the hospital staff can work around it to perform medical care.
Now that we’ve gotten that cleared up, let’s say you want to wear your own clothing during labor. For suggestions on comfortable, practical clothing for labor, check out my latest article on BabyMed. When you head into the hospital, one of the first things your nurse will probably tell you is to change into a hospital gown. Because most women do opt to wear the gown, nurses just get used to phrasing it in a way that sounds like a command, not a question. Politely inform her that you brought your own clothes and that should put the question to rest.
One objection that you may hear is that your chosen clothing may get in the way of IV lines, monitors and other various interventions. If this is brought up, it can be helpful to show the medical staff how they can work around your clothing. For example, if you choose to wear a bathrobe, demonstrate how easily they will have access to your belly for monitoring and your bottom for cervical checks. Many birthing gowns are specifically designed to meet the needs of medical professionals and most nurses are surprised and delighted to learn about their neat features.
Finally, be polite but firm. Occasionally, situations will arise that practically defeat the purpose of wearing your own clothes during labor. I had a friend who chose a birthing gown for her labor because she didn’t want to feel exposed. Instead of using the gown’s features - which had been explained to her and specifically made to accommodate electronic fetal monitoring - her provider pulled the gown up over her belly and left my friend’s lower half exposed for the duration of the monitoring. Unfortunately, situations like this sometimes happen. Just know that if it happens to you, it’s your right to speak up and make your wishes known.
Did you wear the hospital gown or bring your own clothes? What was your reasoning? How did the hospital staff react if you brought your own outfit? Share in the comments below - I love reading and discussing your stories!