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Hospital Gowns : A Sign of Authority?

Posted Nov 03 2009 10:02pm
I often hear women say they would have loved to wear their own clothes when they were in labor, or they HAD to wear the hospital gowns, because they weren't ALLOWED to wear anything else.
Then I got to thinking about hospital gowns and the type of symbolism that they bring to the birth table.
You walk in the hospital, in a vulnerable state because you are in labor, and the first thing they do is show their authority and strength by taking your clothing away from you and putting you in something that is comfortable for them. Kind of the first step to taking away you characteristics that make you an individual, so you can get on the fast track to your one size fits all birth!

The more and more I think about it, I turn back to my two experiences, with my first, I showed up, got in their gown, even though it was uncomfortable, constantly falling off, impossible to keep me covered, and flat out annoying. But, I was the patient, and I was playing the good patient role, and that was the entire tone of my birth. I didn't know better. I didn't know I could say no. I didn't know I did not need to wear their stupid gown.

My second birth, I labored at home forever. I had on a sports bra, and a pair of baggy yoga shorts. I showed up to the hospital in that, and when they gave me the hospital gown to change into, I politely declined as I would not be comfortable in that useless piece of cloth. Apparently the Nurse went to my Midwife and expressed PANIC that I did not comply with "hospital protocol" and get changed. My midwife didn't care. She wanted me to be comfortable, and did not care what I was wearing, and if I was hanging from the ceiling my my toes.

Maybe I am the only one who thinks this about the hospital gown in general, but the symbolism that goes along with "putting you in your place" with a simple piece of cloth is astounding to me!
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