If you're like a lot of pregnant women, you have a general idea as to how you want your labor and delivery to go. In that birth plan, it's important to note whether or not you want to give birth sans clothes. It's seems like such an insignificant detail, but what you wear when you give birth actually matters. In fact, there are some benefits of giving birth naked that every pregnant woman should know, prior to writing her labor and deliver plans down.
Parents says not only do you not have to wear the standard issue hospital gown when you go into labor (if you're giving birth in a hospital), you actually don't have to wear anything at all. If you don't want to, of course. Even though you're pregnant, contracting, leaking bodily fluids, and preparing to have a baby exit your body, you're still entitled to full bodily autonomy. Your doctor cannot pressure you into doing anything you don't want to do — like wearing, or removing, more clothing than you'd prefer. This goes for every decision you make during labor and delivery, so be sure you're fully informed before agreeing, or disagreeing, to any procedures or medications.
Having said that, there are a few benefits of giving birth naked, if it's something you're comfortable with, including the following:
It Makes Access Easier
When you're in labor, your doctor and nurses probably need to monitor fetal activity, time between contractions, dilation, and a slew of other variables. While you don't have to consent to additional personnel watching (student doctors), excess vaginal exams, or procedures you aren't comfortable with — and it's not an emergency situation — if/when progress does need to be checked, the gown is just another thing to push aside or get out of the way.
If you choose to give birth nude, however, annoying articles of clothing aren't a worry. And while it might seem odd to be completely naked around a bunch of strangers, according to BabyCenter many mothers report that once you're in the middle of labor and delivery, you don't really care who sees what. All you want is that baby out of your body.
You Don't Have To Think About Who Wore That Gown Before You
It's not the most pleasant thought in the entire world, but that hospital gown some over-worked nurse is about to bestow upon you has been worn millions of times by millions of people. Five children died from a deadly fungal disease at the New Orleans Children's hospital in 2008 and 2009, said to be transmitted through the linens they slept on. Now, the chances of contracting something via unwashed gowns and linens is slim, but if you're not big on germs, going commando could help put your mind at ease.
It Helps Ease Birthing Transitions & Breastfeeding
There's no "one size fits all" way to birth a baby, and those gowns most certainly don't fit all, either. So when you're laboring nude, you're able to move into different birthing positions with ease. Likewise, if you plan on breastfeeding, not having to mess with a hospital gown could actually help you establish a latch and get that first feeding show on the road.
According to Fit Pregnancy, you should start nursing within the first 12 hours after birth. And According to Stanford Children's Health, the first hour or two after birth is the best time to begin breastfeeding. The initial feeding helps stimulate breast milk, so establishing a feeding routine quickly can be extremely beneficial.
It Makes Immediate Skin-To-Skin Contact Easier
Jeannette Crenshaw, of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Nursing in Lubbock, tells Reuters that "skin-to-skin care or contact is a no-cost intervention that improves outcomes for mothers and babies." If that's something you'd like as part of your birth and postpartum plan, it doesn't hurt to consider going nude to offset any complications the gown may cause. Regardless, it's your body and your delivery. Do what makes sense to you.
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