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The Best Labor and Delivery Gowns of 2022

We tend to dress up for special occasions and holidays, since these big days deserve a wardrobe choice worthy of their momentousness. But what about the day you give birth? It’s one of the most special days of your life—but if you’re delivering at a hospital, you’re likely to be dressed in a run-of-the-mill labor and delivery gown.

Don’t get us wrong: When you’re in the midst of contractions, nausea and extreme overall discomfort, you’re certainly not thinking about dressing to impress. But you will care about comfort—and if donning your own labor and delivery gown instead of the one the hospital provides makes you feel more comfortable, confident and ready to rock childbirth, then go for it! Keep reading to learn how to shop for a labor and delivery gown, then check out some of our favorite picks.

What Is a Labor and Delivery Gown?

A labor and delivery gown is a garment that you change into during triage (when the process of hospital admission begins) and can wear throughout all stages of labor and delivery. You might also choose to keep it on once baby is born and you’re moved to the postpartum unit for the remainder of your hospital stay. It opens in the back, to provide access for an epidural (or spinal block in the event of a C-section) and is short-sleeved to make IV-port placement easy and accessible. Paulina Sun, a labor and delivery nurse at Morristown Medical Center, says that while the hospital gown is the same for all admitted patients, including expectant mothers in the maternity ward, “Moms in mother baby/postpartum are offered nursing-friendly hospital gowns to accommodate breastfeeding, if that’s a desired part of their plan.”

Can You Wear Your Own Delivery Gown During Childbirth?

Yes! “Rules surrounding clothes women wear while birthing are finally loosening up, which is great,” says Angela Mancini, a certified birth doula (DONA) and counselor at La Luna Counseling and Wellness. Moreover, she’s seen labor and delivery teams get excited when her clients have whipped out their own gowns. “I have had many staff members compliment my clients over the years, and I can say the same even about my own births, when I wore one.”

The hospital will certainly provide you a labor and delivery gown, so there’s no need to bring your own. But some parents-to-be aren’t fans of the non-breathable, worn out fabrics and unfavorable fits (they’re generally one-size-fits-all, and given that every mother has a unique body size and shape, the fit can vary dramatically).

Wearing your own outfit—one that you’ve picked out, cleaned and packed yourself—has the potential to make you feel more at home. And, as Mancini points out, wearing something other than what the hospital provides all its patients can shift your mindset around childbirth. “Some OBs treat pregnancy like an illness or condition, when really it’s a natural, beautiful event, and having your own gown makes you feel a little more in control of your situation,” she says. If wearing your own labor and delivery gown can help you feel more empowered and relaxed, lean into that!

At the end of the day, everyone who is helping you bring your little one into the world wants you to feel comfortable, safe and set up for success in the delivery room. So as long as your labor and delivery gown allows your medical and support team to monitor your contractions and baby’s fetal heart rate and carry out any necessary admission processes (IV hookups) and checks (general vitals, cervical checks, blood draws, etc.) without obstructions, you should be in good shape.

The only exception, Sun warns, is if you have a C-section—whether it’s scheduled or emergent. “Moms who have Cesareans need to wear gowns provided by the hospital,” she says. “This is to avoid the clean, sterile operating room from becoming exposed to ‘unclean’ objects from the outside.”

What to Look for in a Labor and Delivery Gown

The most important aspect of a labor and delivery gown is functionality. Your medical providers and support teams should be able to tend to your body for regular monitoring and medical interventions (should they be needed). Gowns that present easy access to your stomach, back, arms and vagina—via breezy bottoms or snapped or Velcro openings—make the frequent checks a lot easier.

Other features to look for include:

  • Comfortable fabrics. Hospital gowns usually aren’t “buttery soft” because they need to be durable enough to last through countless washes—but the same isn’t true of labor and delivery gowns you can purchase. Look for gowns made of breathable, ultra soft and stretchy materials (cotton or jersey fabrics are good choices) that will feel nice on your body, whether you’re contracting in bed, rocking from side to side on a birthing ball or straddling a peanut ball.
  • Easy openings. Classic hospital gowns have a full coverage front and open in the back for unimpeded epidural placement. There are also snaps that line the shoulders and sleeves that can be opened for IV access or in the event your doctor wants to check your breathing and heartbeat with their stethoscope. If you’re on the hunt for your own labor and delivery gown, and can find options that also open in the front for fetal monitoring, skin-to-skin contact and your first few nursing sessions—if that’s your preferred feeding journey.
  • Fashion-forward silhouettes, colorways or prints. There are so many hospital gown alternatives on the market today, some from well-known maternity brands and some as bespoke solutions from former labor and delivery nurses who know what moms need and want from a delivery gown. You can find selections that match the hospital gown’s silhouette but feature a more stylish color palette or good-vibes-only-type patterns or prints. Or you can try a wrap or kimono-style gown that more closely resembles a dress. When you’re finally on the other side of things and have your new baby in your arms, you won’t regret having an ensemble that stands out in your first photos as a family.

Best Labor and Delivery Gowns

If you’re starting to think about packing your hospital bag, we’ve put together a list of the best labor and delivery gowns that offer both style and practicality. They don’t have to be super expensive, either. As Mancini advises her clients, “You don’t want to spend too much money on something that will inevitably be covered in blood and fluids!”

Best Plus-Size Labor and Delivery Gown

Latched Mama Labor Dress 2.0

If dressing confidently and comfortably is part of your birth plan, then you definitely won’t want to miss this plus-size labor and delivery gown from Latched Mama. Snaps featured down the entire back provide secure closure—not to mention modesty—and an easy opening for an epidural, while snaps at the shoulder allow for immediate skin-to-skin contact after birth and easy breastfeeding access. And no need to worry about coming “undone” as you nurse; a small strap located underneath the thicker straps gives you nursing access without losing the back portion of your dress. Unlike regular hospital gowns that have limited frontal access, this dress has petal flaps that open up to accommodate fetal monitoring and postpartum fundal massages (which help to eliminate the risk of hemorrhages on a still-contracting mother).

  • Available in sizes XS-4X (will fit sizes 0-28)
  • Viscose/spandex blend materials are soft and flexible
  • Machine-washable, making it a great option for a postpartum house dress
  • Colors sell out quickly, so check back frequently for availability

Best Delivery Gown and Robe Set

Baby Be Mine Maternity Aspen Pregnancy/Postpartum Robe & Labor Gown Set

We’ve seen a whole lot of fashionable maternity robes, but this boho-inspired taupe and gray iteration is a luscious option as part of a delivery gown and robe set. The sewn-in, adjustable empire waistline is extremely flattering and comfortable, while the discreet, hidden front panel can be moved and shifted around to accommodate fetal monitoring or cervical checks. Elastic straps on the dress and its neckline provide complete coverage, but can also be easily pulled down for skin-to-skin contact and quick breastfeeding. The matching robe gives you the option to cover up when needed.

  • Extended sizing (S/M for sizes 0-12; L/XL for sizes 12-22)
  • Very affordable for a two-piece set
  • So many adorable product bundles (to twin with your partner or baby)
  • Without “backup” straps to keep the gown up, once you unsnap (especially in the middle of the night), it can be challenging to button back up
  • Some color combinations are more expensive than others

Angela Mancini, LPC, ACS and CD (DONA), is a New Jersey mom of three who has a passion for helping other mamas. After the birth of her daughter in 2020, she suffered from postpartum anxiety and depression, and she used this experience to motivate her in helping other moms who were suffering in silence. She opened La Luna Counseling and Wellness soon after, and it has become a safe haven for moms to come and talk about how they’re truly feeling after being parents. She is trained in prenatal yoga, placenta encapsulation and is also a certified childbirth educator.

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