A friend sent me this link, and it intrigued me, and I wanted to get other people’s opinions on it, as well as get it to a broader audience: More than Maternity Hospital Gowns. Go see the fabric choices, as well as read the descriptions. The website looks very preliminary, with the likelihood of them adding other items for sale in the near future.
While the gowns may seem expensive, it is worth noting that they are hand-made. Although at first glance it appeared that the gowns would not allow for easy nursing (few dresses do allow for that, I’ve noticed), the description says that the shoulders unsnap, which then does allow the babies to nurse. There are snaps up the back, so that if you need access to your back (for instance, for an epidural), the dress/gown will accommodate that. It’s certainly better than those horrid hospital-issue gowns (particularly the ones that proclaim “Property of X County Hospital” like one might see in jails). These gowns are cut with an empire waist to allow plenty of room for the pregnant belly; plus the fabric selections are quite nice — certainly no comparison to hospital johnnies.
You know the saying, “The clothes make the man”? Have you ever noticed that you act differently, based on how you’re dressed? I do. I dress one way to go to a wedding and another way to go to the store; and I carry and comport myself a bit differently, based on not just the occasion, but also how I’m dressed. There’s a reason why uniforms are issued for soldiers and prisoners — to make them lose their individuality and conform to the standard set by authority (it works for the military; not so sure about the criminals). Robbie Davis-Floyd talks about this concept in her paper, “The Rituals of American Hospital Birth.”
Of course, you don’t have to wear a gown of any sort in the hospital — you can wear nothing at all if you want (although some people, and not just the laboring moms, may be uncomfortable with that), or wear regular clothes. But if you do end up choosing or needing an intervention that requires you to change your clothes, you may end up stuck with an ugly johnny proclaiming that you are now the hospital’s property. A dress or gown of some sort allows for birth more easily than, say, blue jeans would. Although wearing some form of bottoms would perhaps keep vaginal exams to a minimum — some women have described their hospital labors in terms of having no privacy, with basically anyone in the building allowed to come and stick their hand in their vagina to perform a cervical check. Exaggerated, of course, but that’s the way they felt. When access is physically restricted, it becomes easier for the mom to say, “no,” or at least to be much more picky about who gets to do vaginal exams. When a nurse can’t just open her legs but must physically undress her, that’s a bit more of a barrier (and I’ve heard of such pushy nurses or doctors, although those are hopefully rare). So, that’s a downside of any gown — although I suppose you could pair it with matching leggings (those are back in style again, aren’t they?) and then, problem solved. Of course, you’ll have to take them off eventually, which might be irritating and a hassle in late labor.
So, what do you think?