Pregnancy & Parenting

What to Wear During Labour

Vitabiotics | Published: 18/03/2024

What to Wear During Labour

Read our post on what to wear during labour to help you find the ideal clothes for giving birth, with practical advice on what you need to consider, and suggestions for giving birth clothes for different types of births including water birth outfits.

We’ll help you get ready for giving birth confidently with our guide on what to wear during labour.

Clothes For Labour

When you’re packing your hospital bag with clothes for labour, there’s lots you want to consider. While what to wear during labour might initially seem like a superfluous thing to ask, for many mums-to-be it’s a genuine question and one that’s centred more around comfort and practicalities rather than style.

What do you need to consider when it comes to clothes for labour and a maternity hospital outfit?

  • Ideally, labour outfits need to be loose and comfortable. Anything you wear shouldn’t restrict you from moving around, either on the hospital bed or around the labour room
  • Hospitals also tend to be hot, so you want something that will keep you cool, or a layer you can easily remove if you are too hot as labour progresses
  • You also don’t want anything that’s too precious as it might be stained or damaged
  • If you’re thinking about a water birth, you’ll need a water birth outfit.
  • As well as maternity hospital clothes to wear during labour, you might also want to take a dressing gown and slippers with you to wear around the ward. Your feet might get cold during labour, so it can help to take a pair of warm socks with you

Some women might feel more comfortable wearing nothing while labouring, but it’s helpful to take something to wear with you so you have the option.

It could also help to pack a couple of different choices of birthing outfit, so you can pick what feels comfortable at the time.

Here are some ideas for clothes for labour:

  • Night dress or maternity pyjamas
  • A loose and comfortable maternity top or t-shirt
  • An old, loose t-shirt
  • A long vest top
  • A crop top or underwear such as a comfortable sports bra or nursing bra.

Water Birth Outfit – What Shall I Wear For A Water Birth?

If you’re planning to have a water birth – either in a birthing pool at hospital or at home, you might be wondering about your water birth outfit.

You can wear whatever you feel comfortable in, and some women do prefer to naked in the water. However, it can help to pack a bikini top, a tankini top, crop top / sports or maternity bra or old t-shirt.

When it comes to packing swimwear to give birth in, think two piece rather than an all-in-one.

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What Should I Wear For A Home Birth?

If you’re planning on a home birth, you might be wonder the same question – what should you wear?

Well, the answer is whatever you feel comfortable in! The same rules as for a hospital birth apply – something loose and relaxed! As  you’re in a familiar, private space, you may also feel more comfortable at home not wearing any clothes.

What Should I Wear For A C-Section Birth?

If you are having a planned c-section, the hospital will provide a gown for you to wear.

To recover, you will need comfortable night clothes that give access to your c-section scar. You’ll also need to have big pants and higher waistbands that go over your scar.

Labour Outfits To Wear Once You’ve Given Birth

Remember you’ll also need to take clothes for after the birth for both you and the baby.

For the mum, this should include a couple of changes of night wear, a support bra to wear while breastfeeding and four or five pairs of big pants or disposable underwear to wear with maternity pads.

Mums Tell Us What They Wore To Give Birth In

We asked mums to tell us what they wore to give birth in or are planning to take to the hospital with them:

Nicole – What she’s taking for a hospital birth

“After attending a hypnobirthing course, I totally get the importance of wearing something comforting and familiar for the birth, so with this baby I will be planning to wear some homely pyjamas, slippers and taking my husband’s dressing gown for some added cosiness! I do also recommend wearing something that has buttons, so that it’s easy to open for that first magical skin to skin moment.”

Gabi – What she wore for an emergency c-section

“I started labour wearing a maternity vest top. I then ended up having an emergency c-section, and even though it happened really quickly the hospital gave me a gown to change into for the surgery.”

Kate – What she wore for a home birth

“I had a home birth and at the very last minute ended up wearing one of my partner’s t-shirts as it was the only thing left that would still fit! Home births are much more private, so anything comfortable goes really.”

Gill – What she wore for a hospital birth

“I packed a loose maternity top to wear, but both of my labours progressed so quickly there wasn’t time to think about it. First time I was already in hospital for a planned induction, but ended up giving birth in the top I’d gone to hospital in that day. For my second birth, the baby arrived shortly after I arrived at hospital, so I ended up wearing my nursing bra – which was handy for when she arrived!”

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Meet the Author

Gill Crawshaw

Gill Crawshaw

Copywriter / Editor of TalkMum Blog

Gill Crawshaw

Copywriter / Editor of TalkMum Blog

Pregnancy and parenting editor and writer, mum of two Gill Crawshaw is the editor of the TalkMum blog, and a writer who specialises in pregnancy and parenting. With over 18 years experience in digital content creation, she also writes the blog A Baby On Board, which covers the parenting journey. Gill has two tween-age children and lives in south London.

Gillian Crawshaw

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