pregnant woman having contractions and about to go into labor wearing a casual outfit
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What To Wear During Labor (And Before And After)

Comfort is key.

Much like purchasing athletic wear, when you’re considering what to wear during labor, what your body is about to go through is priority number one. You need garments that you can feel comfortable in, that you can sweat in, that you can move in, but also that can take a beating. Let’s be real, fluids will be spilled. Labor and delivery is not necessarily the right scene for silk.

And what you want to wear also hinges on the type of birth you expect to have. For some, that will be a delivery room at a hospital. For other people, that might look like a pool at a birth center or water birth at home. How you dress will also be a matter of what kind of delivery you expect to have. Those individuals who have a scheduled cesarean will likely be gowned up for their delivery, so keep that in mind as well.

Then there’s the rest of your post-delivery time, be it at home or in the hospital. What garment sounds the most comforting for those first few hours when you’re recovering from childbirth? Think soft, loose, and gentle materials. Fabric that will feel like a hug while you hug your sweet new baby.

What to wear to the hospital

Unless your water breaks in the grocery store or while pumping gas and you have to race to the hospital, you’ll hopefully have time to grab you hospital bag in advance. While you’re at your house, you can also think quickly about what you want to wear to the hospital. Keep in mind, pajamas are completely appropriate. No one is going to judge a person suffering from contractions about their clothing. That said, if you’re headed to the hospital, you’re likely going to lose your outfit anyhow when the nurses ask you to put on a gown. So wear whatever you want. If you’re worried about being chilly, maybe throw on a sweater in advance. But otherwise, just wear what feels comfortable to get to your birthing destination. If that’s maternity jeans and a t-shirt, great. If that’s sweat pants and a giant pullover? Equally great choice.

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What to wear during labor

If you’re in a general hospital, you will likely be given a gown to wear for the duration of your labor. You might feel exposed, but that’s sort of the idea — easy access to the birth canal.

But, for those who choose a different birthing process, perhaps at home or in a birth center, you may want to wear a bikini top or a maternity bra with nothing else. If you prefer to be more modest, a large loose t-shirt or nightgown might suffice. Even a comfy skirt could make the best choice if you’re laboring semi-sitting or standing.

What to wear after childbirth

The postpartum stage is a period of great recovery. Your body is trying to get back to normal while splitting its time as a new caretaker. What you wear at this point is very different from before pregnancy and even during it. First, you need clothing that’s forgiving. Meaning if there are sutures still healing or sore points on your body, you want to avoid anything that’s snug or restrictive.

In general, you’ll likely be wearing your maternity clothing during your first days and weeks postpartum. Athleisure brands make great crossover postpartum garments. Also consider functionality. For instance, postpartum leggings with pockets are clutch. Your hands are going to be full so where are you going to put your phone? Keep in mind that you might also want items that make nursing or pumping easier. Fortunately, nursing tops come in all kinds of styles these days, from sweaters to sweatshirts to blouses.

Just be kind to yourself when you’re dressing and remember you’re beautiful no matter what you have on.