Labor & Delivery Gown Alternatives


Many women will desire an added layer of modesty during their labor and delivery process as a surrogate. It is very likely that there will be more people in your laboring suite than with your own births and, unlike with your own births, there is a good chance that you will not be as intimately familiar with these people.

For reasons of modesty and style, we find that many of our surrogates wind up looking into and purchasing an aftermarket labor and delivery gown for their experience. In many cases these gowns will be well fitting, often available in a variety of sizes, allowing you to avoid accidental fabric shifts that leave you exposed. Additionally, owning your labor gown permits you to wash it at home before the birth so that it is soft and has a familiar smell that may be comforting while you’re laboring.

As a secondary perk, these gowns also allow for more fashionable photos during labor and in the moments just after birth.

In general, you’ll find that there are two major aftermarket labor and delivery gown styles. While individuals make and sell them on sites like Etsy, two large companies offer labor and delivery gowns in mass production. Often these gowns offer convenience features including:

  • Snap closure on the shoulder– to provide a snug neckline that offers ease of breast pumping without risking accidental exposure.
  • Halter top styling– Again to provide secure coverage with ease of access for pumping.
  • Full velcro/snap closure down the back– provides secure coverage while allowing doctors and nurses ease of access to your epidural site.
  • Available in a variety of sizes– no more one size fits all hospital option!
  • Frontal Access- many gowns have ties that, when opened, can provide ease of access to fetal monitoring.

If you’re interested in an after-market labor and delivery gown, you’ll first want to call the hospital where you’re planning to deliver to make sure they’re allowed. Some hospitals have policies in place that will only allowing laboring women to wear hospital issued gowns. Many other hospitals will be fine with you bringing your own gown so long as it allows doctors full access to fetal monitoring bands and epidural placement.

You’ll also want to be sure to order your labor gown early, as babies tend to have a mind of their own and may come earlier than expected. Also understand that, despite having hospital approval, medical situations may cause you to not be able to wear your gown. Emergency caesarian sections or a very quick labor may result in hospital protocol superseding your wishes.

Also prepare yourself for this to be a one-time wearing experience. Birth can be a messy experience and your gown, which may have been expensive, may become stained beyond repair. You’ll want to prepare yourself for that before purchasing your gown. If your gown is salvageable, many surrogates use the material to create a stuffed animal or blanket keepsake for themselves or the family they helped to create.

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 26 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for over two decades. Dr. Bergman has created a comprehensive psychological screening, support and monitoring process for intended parents, surrogates and donors. She is the co-owner of Growing Generations and is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American Psychological Association, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. She is on the national Emeritus board of the Family Equality Council. Dr. Bergman writes, teaches and speaks extensively on parenting by choice. Along with co-authors, she published “Gay Men Who Become Fathers via Surrogacy: The Transition to Parenthood” (Journal of GLBT Family Studies, April 2010). Dr. Bergman’s is the author of the book, Your Future Family: The Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction (Conari Press 2019) as well as the children's book You Began as a Wish (Independent Press 2019). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 35 years. She has two adult daughters.