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Hospital gowns- honestly?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

I'm going to be giving birth in a hospital for my 3rd birth, in January. Last birth was the most perfect, beautiful birth center experience. Beyond the waterbirth, the candles, the music, I was also so happy to wear exactly what I wanted to- a tank top. That's it. 


So, now that I'm being forced to give birth in a hospital against my wishes, do I honestly have to wear a gown like my first birth? Why do they put us in it anyway? I don't want the darn thing!


Any of you have experience birthing in hospitals without a gown? I also am considering having this one filmed by hubby, and since I hate gowns so much, I would hate to be wearing one...

post #2 of 23

I straight up refused. When they came in with the gown, I told them that I would be naked, or I could wear what I had on, but that I was not putting the gown on.

I was wearing a tank top (no bra, just a tank) and a long hippish skirt. This time, Ill probably wear a mid thigh length skirt because things were a little bloodier than I was expecting and the long skirt was in the way. I lost it pretty immediately and then was just wearing a tank top. No one argued with me about that (they argued with me about lots, but not the gown).

But, I know lots of hospitals that require a gown will allow you to wear things like this:

They are SO sexy. eyesroll.gif
post #3 of 23

My most recent hospital birth, I arrived in a comfy knit dress, and I was in really late labor. The gown was there, I think, but nobody was trying to *command me* to change into it. In fact, the nurse was quite possibly the coolest labor nurse I have EVER met.


Anyhow, I had to have the monitor for a few minutes, because I had just arrived and it was necessary to see how baby was doing. I fully agreed with this, but asked if it could be done with me standing up. Nurse said OF COURSE! and I labored beside the bed, leaning over a table and kind of rocking my hips during the intense transition contractions. Still in my dress.


My midwife arrived, very kindly suggested I get a quick check to make sure baby was head down (she flipped A LOT the last few weeks of the pregnancy, and my previous child had flipped at 41 weeks, so her concern was warranted). I agreed, and asked again if I had to be on the bed. She said no, got down on her knees on the floor and checked me. She said head's down, and you can get in the tub if you want.


My dress went one way. I went the other, totally naked.


About 5-10 minutes later I was holding my gorgeous baby girl.


I did put on the hospital gown after getting out of the water just because it was there, it was easy, and dry.


This time, I am planning another hospital waterbirth, and I kind of hope it goes similarly. Not really enough time for the hospital BS to get in the way of me doing my thing and having a baby. Not that I think there WOULD have been much hospital BS last time, as I said the nurse was cooler than cool, and she totally "got" me. I just dislike the whole hospital package. Everything from the chemical smells of disinfectant (don't get me wrong, I'm GLAD they use that stuff, it just stinks) to the floor tiles and fluorescent lights. Ick. Not that laboring in a minivan in rush hour traffic is a picnic, but it's not a hospital bed, right?


Anyhow, if I'm not naked, I may have a sports bra thing or a tank top, but probably not much else.

post #4 of 23

Have you had a tour of the hospital you're birthing at?  You could ask them about their gown "policy".  I personally wore a gown, but a friend who delivered at the same hospital didn't wear anything and no one said boo.



post #5 of 23

Your question reminded me of this thread from a few months ago... you might find some additional helpful responses.



I think I posted in it referencing a disposable birthing gown you can purchase for yourself that's a lot nicer than the traditional hospital gowns.

post #6 of 23


I've had 2 hospital births, 2 different states, didn't wear a gown either time. First time I ended up naked. The second time... I'm not sure? I think I left my shirt on out of politeness (to my doula), but I honestly don't remember, except I know that there was no gown and I wasn't wearing pants. Umm, not sure on the laws on this one since the hospital *might* be legally justified in compelling patients to wear some form of clothing since there are laws about indecent exposure, but I don't see how they could dictate WHAT you wore. The first birth I got in a bit of an argument with a nurse about whether or not I would be wearing a hospital gown until my doctor stepped in and told her to leave me alone. Second birth the issue never came up. 


Hope that helps. I'm sorry that you're not getting the birth location you want :( Hospital births *can* be ok if you have a good rapport with your hcp and aggressive support people. 

post #7 of 23
i had my son in a hospital-affiliated birth center and i ended up naked pretty soon after arriving (at 8cm dilated). nobody said anything. i think their only rule is that labor coaches wear *something* if they go in the tub (or otherwise), but the birthing mama herself can wear as much or as little as she wants (as long as it doesn't get in the way). i did put on the gown afterward. the whole top-half folded down really easily for skin-to-skin nursing.
post #8 of 23

I had a hospital birth, and the intake nurse brought in a gown and asked me to put it on.  I politely said that I'd be wearing my own clothes.  Her response: "Well you're not going to give birth in sweatpants!" in a really snarky tone.  I just said that I'd take them off when the time came and went back to laboring.  Nobody else said a thing, and I gave birth in my tank top and nothing else.  


I may wear a gown this time, because my risk of complications/emergency c-section is higher, but I figure they can work around a tank top about as easily.  And if things really go south, they can just cut it off me.  They don't have a problem doing things like that in the ER, so why should it be an issue in L&D?


I figure you should just politely refuse.  If they insist, ignore them.  They really can't make you wear a gown.  Let your DH or labor partner know your preference, and if you can't keep your cool, have them advocate for you.

post #9 of 23

I have a hideously ugly, long pink t shirt with sparkly dolphins on it. I wore it for my first birth (birth center) and it's been the official Birth Shirt ever since. I had a hospital birth for my third, and I wasn't about to labor without the Birth Shirt! No one really had a problem with it, besides a few rolled eyes and puffed breaths.


Now that we're working on #5, the sparkly dolphin birth shirt will be seeing some action again!!

post #10 of 23

I didn't have a problem either time.  Before my epidural the nurse told me that if I wanted the epidural I'd have to wear a gown.  Sure. Done. 

post #11 of 23
The hospital that I used with DD preferred gowns, but didn't mandate them. As long as they could get access for a stethoscope and any monitors that might be needed, they didn't care. After I had DD and could stand (c-section) I switched to tank tops and stretchy capris.
post #12 of 23

I am a nurse who actually worked in labor and delivery for a while.  We always encourage moms to put on the gown just because it is easier to deal with, especially with iv's and emergency csections.  However, if the mother requests her own clothes, we always agreed, as long as their was access to where we needed access!  Although, it was always an understanding that, in case of an emergency, the gown goes on, no matter what.  So, do not hesitate to ask your labor and delivery nurse because she will almost always say yes!

post #13 of 23

Seriously, does anyone really care what they're wearing when they're trying to push a baby out?  My attire was the last thing on my mind.


If anything, I was happy to wear the gown since it meant I didn't have to get blood all over my own clothing.  Remove and drop in hospital laundry bin when soiled!

post #14 of 23
Originally Posted by mambera View Post

Seriously, does anyone really care what they're wearing when they're trying to push a baby out?  My attire was the last thing on my mind.


If anything, I was happy to wear the gown since it meant I didn't have to get blood all over my own clothing.  Remove and drop in hospital laundry bin when soiled!

While I was pushing I could have cared less!  lol.gif  But I was a 7 when I got to the hospital, and sort of stalled out around 9.  I did lots of walking the halls, and I was very grateful not to have to worry about holding my clothing together.  I wore yoga pants and tank til it was time to push, then lost the pants.  I only got a bit of "gunk" only shirt from when they put DS on my chest. 


I did wear the mesh hospital undies for a while.  They were big enough for ice packs, and I didn't have to worry about my own getting soggy or stretched out.

post #15 of 23
If you're worried about exposing your backside while you're pacing the halls, ask for another gown. Put the second gown on backwards so that it opens in the front, and you've got a robe. I think I might keep an eye out for fabric sales and make one for myself. I'd prefer a gown that is a wrap style like I use when I go to the breast imaging center for check-ups. (Mom had cancer young, so I have to go yearly.)
post #16 of 23

I put the gown on when I got there (I was in transition so it was quite a task!) because I went to triage first and it took them an hour to wheel me over to the birthing suite thing.  Once I was in the suite, I sat in the wheelchair for probably 7-8 contractions until I wanted to get up and lean over the bed.  Some back rubbing and an awesome hip squeeze later, my water broke and I was down to my bra.  They offered me a clean robe but since I was pushing, I didn't care!!  Once DS was born, I went completely naked.

post #17 of 23

I had my daughter in a hospital and didn't get there until a few minutes before transition. I don't think anyone dared suggest that I do anything about my clothes, lol! Once I hit transition I can't STAND any kind of clothing touching me... that has been the case for all of my labors. At home, no one notices or cares that I'm naked. I don't know how they felt in the hospital and, honestly, I didn't care at that point. It isn't like they can force you to put clothing on, anyway. I'd like to see them try to wrestle a laboring woman into a gown, lol! I can imagine most places wouldn't care, especially now with the trend of custom made labor gowns. :)

post #18 of 23

I can't remember how I transitioned to hospital gowns when I was in labor.  I know I was conscious of the hospital gown as An Issue, but I think I made the switch from my own clothes once they got bloody, because I wanted to walk the halls.  I was naked again by the time my second dd was born.  I brought nightgowns with nursing access to the hospital with me to wear during recovery, but I spent some time oozing all over the hospitals gowns again before I put them on.  No one but me cared what I wore.  


I would assume that in an emergency requiring access to body parts covered by a patient's clothing, the hospital staff would break out the scissors just like EMTs do.  I can understand the idea that if you're getting an epidural you're getting a gown, because there's a lot of access points needed for the epi and the IV and whatnot.  


FWIW, my second dd was hospitalized at 20 months, and she didn't have to put on a hospital gown either.  The nurse was very apologetic when she asked if Hattie would prefer to swap her comfy home-made jammies for a top that accommodated an IV, or have a cut made up the jammie sleeve.  We opted to change her shirt, but it was our choice.  

post #19 of 23

While some may thing what you wear is not such a big deal--the ability to choose what to wear for yourself is!  Is is a comfort issue--and it is an empowerment issue--both of which can have a huge effect on how labor progresses!  Let's face it....when you check in for a hospital birth, you are already forfeiting enough of both....we should be as comfortable and empowered as possible!


I'm a mom, and have also been an OB nurse for over 12 years, plus an IBCLC and lately and OB nursing instructor among other titles...I have worked in several hospitals over the years (always trying to find one that is mother and baby friendly, but never succeeding).  Anyway....I have never seen a hospital policy on gowns in labor and delivery or anywhere else. In general, you can and should whatever makes you most comfortable.   I have a professional and personal opinion on that though...and they are the same.  Immediately after birth and for as long as possible...preferably until after the first feeding and/or 2 hours, baby should be skin to skin with unrestricted access to the breasts.  This period of time is critical for STS (skin to skin contact)  The hospital gown makes this very cumbersome.  If you are unlucky enough to be stuck in one with the opening in the back when the baby is placed on your tummy, then you'll end up with it all bunched up at your neck as you make room for baby.  Awkward.  Then you face having to give up baby and interrupt that golden moment to get it out of the way.  So unnecessary. 


That said, I do like having access to them.  Personally, I prefer a nursing or sports bra that completely unzips or unsnaps to completely expose my entire chest for that immediate post-natal period.  I like to keep the gown on, opening in the front for most of labor.  After I get up to the bathroom for the first time, I might switch to one of my own nursing tops that opens in the front to allow STS or just keep using the gown in the same way.  I also like to keep my own pants on as long as possible....I bring a few pair that I don't mind throwing away after it is all over.


Some nurses, though, are simply short sighted and ignorant.  When dd was born I was initially wearing a sports bra under my clothes, and when she handed me the gown I put it on in the front, and she actually scolded me for putting it on wrong....guess she didn't get the memo that I was an LC and had already been an L&D nurse for 8 years at that time.  Actually...I found out then....as I have found out again with this pregnancy that all those titles and experiences do very little to shield me from their attitudes....weird how OB nurses are so very mom and baby UN-friendly.  (Sigh...but that is another issue for another thread!)  Let's just say that when I was recently hospitalized for PTL, my complaints went straight to the top and I had visits from the hospital medical director and the OB Director of Nursing and my chart is now flagged.  We'll see what good that does come September when I deliver.


So--with the exception of those anticipating c-section--emergency or otherwise...wear what you want....and if they give you cra*....ask them to show you the policy that says you need a gown! 

post #20 of 23

I didn't wear anything at the hospital after I started pushing.  I think I had a tank on before that?  I had complications after my lovely natural birth and when I awoke from general anesthesia I was wearing a hospital gown.  Didn't really care tho...

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