Belly Up

* bellies * birth * babies * breastfeeding *

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Does This Gown Make Me Look Fat?

functional or frustrating?
 Ah, the lowly hospital gown.  It isn't much to look at and for moms planning to breastfeed, it isn't all that functional once the baby arrives.  However, donning the gown is one of the very first rituals of giving birth in a hospital.  Most women don't even think twice about shedding whatever maternity clothes they arrived in and dressing for the occasion of their birth,  But can the gown represent something more?

Basically, maybe yes and maybe no.  For some the hospital gown represents the perfect accessory in which to handle the various bodily fluids that are often present during labor and birth.  You take it off when done, it disappears and you never have to deal with any laundry issues that might occur.  Just like Las Vegas, whatever happens to the gown in the hospital, stays in the hospital.

For others though. the hospital gown represents something less about simplicity and more about the idea that once in the gown, a laboring mom becomes a patient with special clothes that separate her from the "civilian" population of the unsick and unhospitalized.    She may even feel that in the gown she is treated like a passive partipant rather than a woman actively engaged in the process of birthing her child. Thus for this mom, the gown represents the lose of power and perhaps the lose of her autonomy over her labor choices.

So is the hospital gown a must for giving birth?  Absolutely not.  If you are the mom that loves the gown, embrace it in all its backless glory.  If you find the gown to be unfashionable, uncomfortable, immodest or otherwise annoying don't wear it.  If wearing the gown makes you feel less able to advocate for yourself and your child, by all means don't put the thing on.  Making the choice to put on the gown or not is the first of many choices you will make in your labor and as far as those choices may go, this one is pretty non controversial; simply tell the nurse you have brought your own clothes or that you prefer to wear what you currently have on.

That still leaves us with the aforementioned laundry question (get some hydrogen peroxide!)  and, well, you will probably want to wear something at least during some of your labor!  There is actually a company that sells labor clothes. I have shown a lovely pic of a model in Binsi skirt that is designed and sold for labor and birth (and as I am linking the site I hope I am not going to be sued for copyright infringement).  However, lots of other options exist.  Some moms make or buy their own hospital gown so that they feel cute during labor and others just wear something that is comfortable.  Obviously at some point your careprovider may have to access certain areas generally found under one's clothing, but these items can be removed easily when the time comes and a skirt is just as easily pushed up as the gown.

laboring in a black sundress
 Bottom line, when you are in labor, wear what makes you feel like the strong, competent and beautiful mom you are.  Wear clothes that enhance your experience of labor. Yes, it is just a gown or just a black tank top, but the choice of what to wear is yours to make and actually starting your hospital experience proactively making a choice can make it easier to make other choices that come your way during labor.  It may turn out to be the most frivolous of the choices you make that day and if things get complicated one that was relatively less important, but you may find laboring in your clothes to be the first step toward a more mother friendly labor. 

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