7 Ideas for What to Wear in Labor - Tips from your Birth Photographer

Recently, I’ve gotten the same question from several different clients; what should I wear to my birth?!in all honestly, the answer to that question is simple — wear whatever you want, or nothing at all!

A lot of women feel most comfortable in little to no clothing during birth. If you haven’t given birth before and you’re not sure what you’re going to want to wear, or you didn’t have a birth photographer and feel like maybe you should have a different plan for this time, here are a few options to consider.

  1. Wear a hospital gown.

    This is what many people who deliver in a hospital wear, but I find that a lot of people don’t realize that they have a choice. The hospital gowns are made to make it easy for them to check you, and some hospitals may request that you put it on when your first arrive, and then tell you you can change after. The truth is, you don’t HAVE to put it on! As long as you wear something that gives them access when they need it, they shouldn’t mind if you wear your own clothes. And if they do, they can’t force you to wear it.

    If you don’t want to worry about what you’re going to wear, or you don’t want to both getting your own clothes messy, it’s perfectly fine to wear a hospital gown!

  2. Wear your own gown or robe.

    More and more women are starting to buy their own labor/delivery gowns. You can find gowns with pretty prints that are made of more comfortable material but serve the same purpose as a hospital gown, i.e., they allow access to your vagina and (usually) unsnap or have some sort of access at the top to allow for easier skin-to-skin/nursing. Something like this, this, or this.

 Photo by Christi Stafford Photography {www.christistaffordphoto.com}

If you want something more versatile that you’ll use again after the birth, you could also go with something simple like a robe. It provides the same easy access that a hospital gown would allow, and is also easy to quickly take off if you decide you don’t want your clothes on (this happens pretty often in labor!). Target has several options like this jersey knit robe (plus size option here) or this one would work great! They also work really well for Fresh 48 sessions or if you have guests in those newborn days and need to throw something on over your pajamas or whatever you totally have not have been wearing for the last 3 days in a row.

3. Wear a dark colored, loose fitting dress or skirt.

If you don’t want to buy something special to wear for labor and you have a simple jersey knit dress or skirt in your closet, those work really well too!

4. Comfy t-shirt or tank top

It’s totally fine to go for comfort. You really don’t need anything fancy or cute. You’re going to be doing hard work. Wear something that you feel good in! You can throw on some shorts or sweatpants to start with and just take them off later. You may want a sports or nursing bra underneath in case you want to get in the water or feel the need to take off your shirt at some point.

5. Wear a nursing bra.

Ok, so now let’s be real. probably 90% of births I’ve attended have ended with mom wearing nothing but a nursing bra, especially if they plan to labor in the water. So if you want to be wearing something cute in your photos, make sure you have a cute nursing bra to wear! I wore something this super comfortable sleep nursing bra from Target in black. There are also several lace options that I see in birth photos frequently, like this one from Aerie or this nursing bra from Motherhood or this one from Target.

6. Wear a bikini or two-piece maternity swimsuit.

If you’re planning on laboring in the water a lot, wearing a bikini is a common choice since it doesn’t feel heavy or clingy when wet. The bottoms slip off easily for when you need to get them off and you can leave the top on as long as you want!


7. Go nude!

If you want to go totally naked, go for it. I’ve been to lots of birth and I’ve seen lots of naked women and it totally doesn’t phase me at all, and it won’t phase your midwife, doula, OB, or nurse either. There is something so raw and primal about a woman laboring in the nude. BUT if you’re planning on sharing your birth photos with friends and family or you want me to share them on social media and you don’t want anyone to see you totally naked, maybe plan to keep your bra on.

A few other notes to consider when planning what to wear for labor. Birth involves blood and other bodily fluids and things might get messy. Keep that in mind when choosing your colors, and especially if you’re planning on wearing a dress or shirt that you already own. Don’t wear something that you wouldn’t want to get stained! Also, if you plan to labor in the water at all, keep in mind that white/light colored bras and clothing will likely be see-through when wet. Along those same lines, make sure you have at least one back up outfit. If your water breaks and gets on your gown or you get in the water with your bra on, you may want something clean and dry to put on later in your labor process.

Regardless of what you decide to wear in labor, make sure that whatever you choose is something that is comfortable for you!