10. Nothing tight. You might think that goes without saying, but you’d be surprised. Even socks or bras that are a little snug will be extremely uncomfortable during labor.
9. Little or no jewelry. Many hospitals have a no jewelry policy, but won’t enforce it until things get dicey. If you’re going to the hospital, you might want to leave your valuables at home. You’ll feel better knowing that they are safe and won’t get misplaced. You’d be surprised at the things that may suddenly start to bother you in labor, and jewelry also can get caught in things like sheets and hair, yanking on you uncomfortably (especially piercings!) If you feel like there is something you can’t live without for a few days, go ahead and wear it, but bring a safe place to store it and have your birth partner put it there as soon as you take it off!
7. A robe, sweater or hoodie. Hospital rooms can be chilly places, and if you’re going to walk the halls, you’ll probably want more coverage than a hospital gown provides. You can always throw another gown on backwards over your gown, but your own favorite snuggly cover-up is going to be more soothing and comfy.
6. No watch! Yes, we already covered jewelry, but this one gets its own mention. First of all, every room in the hospital and birth center has a clock in it. Plus, your birth partner and you will most likely have your phones if you really need to know the time. Speaking of which, you probably don’t. You’re not on a time schedule in labor. It’s a special time-free bubble. Time-watching will only make you crazy. Your healthcare provider will be pay attention to your contraction timing, so you don’t need it for that. It gets in the way of IVs and heparin locks, and almost always ends up coming off at some point anyway.
5. Noise-cancelling earbuds or headphones, or ear plugs. Obviously, you won’t be wearing these the entire time, but you might need to rest. Or you might just be sick of hearing things beep. If you want to focus, meditate, or just take a breather, hospitals are not a quiet place for that. Having something to block or cover the typical noises can be a huge relief. Especially if you are having an epidural to sleep; it’s no good getting pain relief, then being kept awake by people in the hall and medical equipment noises! Cords can be a safety concern when sleeping, and it’s never a bad idea to have a speaker handy if your device of choice doesn’t have great sound. Music can be soothing, encouraging, refreshing, and more, so have your favorite playlists ready to go.
4. Socks or slippers with treads, or easy to slip on shoes. Hopefully, you’ll be up and out of bed plenty during your labor. Bare feet on a cold floor isn’t very fun, and slipping is always a concern: your center of gravity is different and changing, you’re dealing with contractions and you’re in an unfamiliar space. Most hospitals have free socks with the cat-paws on the bottoms, or bring your own favorite non-slip socks or slippers. You can also bring some comfy mules or flip-flops if that’s your thing, but nothing that requires tying/untying or any effort to put on, or you’ll cause yourself more frustration than anything.
3. Headbands/hair ties. Short hair, long hair, curly or straight - if your hair can reach your face, it will end up in it. Nothing can be more annoying than constantly brushing your hair off your face. Your doula may have hair ties in her bag, but you know what works best for your hair. Clips, bands, ties, whatever keeps those random strands from getting into your eyes. Women with longer hair often find it gets in the way or is too hot on their neck at some point, and if you’re planning to get an epidural, it will have to all be up and off of your back.
2. The right size bra. We mentioned clothes that are too tight, and that goes double for bras. While you might be totally comfy going without for labor, if you need some support, be sure the bra you are wearing is not too tight, and will work with nursing, if you’re planning to do that.
1. What makes you feel good. Some women really don’t care what they are wearing in labor, and that’s fine. If you don’t love the idea of a hospital gown, there are specially designed dresses for labor, or get a nice comfy, loose nightgown. If you don’t like being bottomless, take some yoga pants or sweatpants; you can wear them the entire time except for cervical checks and pushing (duh). You can custom order a hospital gown, and have your very own with you. You can wear your husband’s big shirt over shorts if you like. IF wearing something cute makes you feel better, do it! If wearing a superhero shirt give you strentgh, why not? Your comfort, modesty or religious concerns, and convenience should guide your choice of what you wear on this important day.
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