Say Yes to the (Laboring) Dress

In September 2018, I was quoted in this NY Post news story about the increasing trend for expectant parents to bring their own laboring gown to wear in labor instead of a hospital gown. This is something I always talk about in childbirth classes. I was first introduced to the concept a few years back when a doula client from Park Slope (a very trendy part of Brooklyn) wore her “pretty little black dress” to her labor, which helped her feel confident and beautiful. I was sold and have recommended it ever since.

Why would you want to wear your own gown instead of the hospital one? There’s quite a bit that the article didn’t mention, so let me add a couple things:

  • You should feel like the healthy, beautiful laboring woman you are, not like a sick patient. Wearing the hospital gown can contribute to the all-too-common U.S. “sick patient” way we tend to perceive birth

  • Laboring gowns are SO much more comfy and stretch along with you as you aim stay active for a healthy + shorter labor. Hospital gowns are usually scratchy and made of rigid fabric.

  • They’re designed to give access where necessary for monitoring of baby, to be cut low enough in the back that if a person opts for the epidural, the gown isn’t in the way, and it’s a halter top — perfect for breastfeeding

  • Side perk - they often come with a matching headband, which is helpful to keep your hair out of your face

Now, you might ask, “Couldn’t I just wear something I already own?” Yes, you absolutely could. However, the laboring gowns are designed in such a way that it’s more likely to be pleasing to the work that the hospital or birthing center staff need to do, as detailed above.

Actually, you might just get so hot and bothered in the — often literal — heat of active labor and just strip down to almost nothing, and that’s just fine, too! (It’s common to lose all inhibition when the body’s working so hard.)

The brand I recommend is Pretty Pushers. They’re made here in NYC (shop local!) and has several designs and colors. Find them here on my list of recommended products*. There are other brands, but this is my fave recommendation.

Now, go rock that labor “runway”!

*Disclosure: I may receive a small commission on any products you purchase through these links, at no additional cost to you.

Little Bean's Birth Story (told by Mama Jessica)

newborn little bean moy closeup.jpg

“Little Bean” [pseudonym at family’s request] finally arrived on December 20 at 11:19 am. 7 lbs 3 oz 20 in and perfectly healthy! We were instantly in love. 

The birth went really well overall and of course was very different than what either of us had imagined. Little Bean was born at 42 weeks via an induction. Our doctor told us from the beginning that she would let us go to 41 weeks and 6 days - but of course she went on vacation by the time we got to our 41-week appointment, and there was pressure from other doctors in the practice to induce sooner. That last week was really tough - mentally, emotionally and physically. We were so thankful to have our doula help us through some conversations with our doctors in those last few days. After a lot of back and forth the induction was scheduled for 41 weeks and 6 days. Believe me, we tried every possible natural induction suggestion we could find on the internet up to that point and nothing worked! 

Honestly I was pretty disappointed realizing I would have to be induced. I felt it would most likely inhibit any plans I had for a natural labor and would mean significant interventions I did not want. We revisited the birth plan with our doula and adjusted expectations. 

Once we were at NYU we did two rounds of Cytotec (I was barely one cm when we checked in) and then a foley balloon. Didn’t feel any contractions until the balloon was in but we worked through them and I felt confident by the time the balloon came out at 4 cm that I could handle active labor. Completely expected the doc to go with pitocin next, but she was willing to try breaking my water first. Contractions started up again almost immediately and we’re much more intense than before. This is where my memory lapses... 

newborn little bean moy.jpg

I think it was about 3-4 hours after my water broke that our doula and our nurse thought I might be in transition and wanted to confirm with a cervical check. This was because I was vomiting a lot -- much more than I would have anticipated before. I was concerned I’d need fluids soon, because I couldn’t even keep water down. I was also shivering uncontrollably – which, honestly, felt very scary in the moment and started to hinder my ability to breath through a contraction. When they checked, I was 6 cm and immediately felt disappointed. I knew I couldn’t make it another few hours. It was 5:30am and we hadn’t slept at all. I opted for an epidural and initially was upset that I wanted it so much in the moment but in hindsight I think it was the best choice for me.

The epidural allowed me to sleep a few hours. I was still feeling the contractions they were mild enough for me to rest. The nurse woke me up around 10:30am to check me and I was ready to push! 

little bean jessica rich.jpg

I realized that I wouldn’t be pushing for long when after the first one the doctor didn’t leave, but she went to put on scrubs. I pushed for about 30 minutes and out he came! Rich was able to announce the gender and the rest is a blur of me sobbing for the next few minutes. At some point I heard the nurse give him an apgar score of 9! He was very awake for a couple hours after the birth and my parents were able to meet him while he was active- which was really special. 

He just had his one-month doctors appointment and I can’t believe how time is already flying! 

We’re so thankful to have had the information from your class and our doula’s support throughout the induction. We were all shocked that I had an induction with no Pitocin. It doesn’t matter how many times people say it -- you just really have no idea how things will go until they happen!