A Guide to Childbirth for the Overly Modest

Childbirth is a daunting thing to think about. Aside from the obvious dangers, and the fact that you are pushing a human being out of a very small opening (OUCH!), there is a room full of people who will be watching and helping. And to be honest with you, that thought stressed me out more than everything else involved in the process. I am a very modest person. To the point that even I know it is ridiculous and excessive. And if you don’t want to hear about the different levels of nudity in child birth, I would recommend you move along, and look at something else on this site, how about the last thing I wrote, about how you are not perfect and that’s ok! Right here!

I wrote this because I wish there would have been an article for me to read before I gave birth to know what to expect nudity wise. So I figured if I wanted it, other people probably do too!

First, let your doctor know about your concerns. They are being paid very good money to take care of you, (by you!) and there has been an even bigger emphasis on patient choice these days than there has been in the past. The doctors and nurses see all kinds of nudity, it does not phase them even a little bit. (The things that they see daily, nudity and more, would traumatize any other person, but they are medical professionals, they are tough and also used to it!) Also, remember that you are under no obligation to allow nursing students into the delivery room. They do need to learn, but you need to be comfortable and feel at ease as well. This is your day, mama! You call the shots.

Let’s break down what is going to happen, and what to expect.

When you get to the hospital, they will have you change into a hospital gown. However, they will let you keep a bra on if that makes you more comfortable. (I recommend getting a comfy nursing/sleeping bra).  The doctor may need to come in with what looks like a long straight stick to break your water if it did not happen on its own.

If you choose to get an epidural, you will need to sit forward with the whole back of your hospital gown open so they can insert the needle. I thought this would be stressful, because I chose a female doctor and I knew the nurses would be female, and I knew the anesthesiologist would most likely be male, and that stressed me out. They had given me Pitocin and I was in so much pain, that I didn’t care at all. I so badly wanted those drugs to stop the pain that it barely mattered to me.

The nurse will need to give you a catheter if you have been given an epidural. (Very necessary, you don’t want be peeing everywhere!) I had always pictured that they make you lay there half naked while you labor (Eek!). Not so! They allow you to stay covered, and they will probably give you a blanket too. (Hospitals are cold!) They will uncover you when they check to see how dilated you are, but then cover you right back up!

During the birth, you will obviously be exposed. Regularly, there will be two nurses and one doctor. If you have complications or if they expect complications, you can expect more bodies in the room. They will all help you, but one of the nurses is there for the baby once they are born. (And I am so grateful for our little man’s nurse, she was the one who realized that something wasn’t right and made sure he was sent to the NICU to get the help he needed).

Don’t be surprised if your doctor doesn’t show up until you have been pushing for a little bit, or once you start pushing. They may even be in and out while they chart for other patients. Nurses are amazing, and can totally handle it!

They will encourage you to be skin to skin with your baby after you’ve finished the hard work to get them out. So that will obviously involve some nudity too. But you can put them right in your hospital gown with you to keep them nice and cozy, kangaroo style!

After the birth, once your epidural has had a chance to wear off if you chose to get one (after you have been stitched up if necessary) the nurse will walk you to the bathroom, and spray you off. After that experience, you are mostly done with nudity! (Hooray!) They will come in and knead your stomach periodically, but you will get to stay covered. You can expect to have a nurse/lactation consultant in your personal space helping you figure out breast feeding if you are struggling. (I sure did! Read about it here).

You might be saying, but Hailey, I still care! This doesn’t make me feel any better about this! I’m even more worried now! This article did not help! Don’t worry, I got you girl! We aren’t done yet! I quite honestly felt the same way. I was convinced that it was going to be a humiliating experience, and that I was going to die in childbirth. (As I’ve mentioned before, I am very calm and collected and rational always!) And by the time I was 7 days overdue with my 9 pound 21.5 inch baby in the July heat, I was not nearly as stressed about it. I wanted that baby out of there! I was doing my daily lunch time walks around work, waddling around miserably and praying that I could please please just go into labor?? (Here’s some pictures to prove how gigantic I was!)

All I can say is, I made it through. It was just one day in the scheme of things for the birth portion! And now I have a beautiful, healthy baby boy. And if me, the shy, religious, overly modest woman that I am can make it through, you can too! Good luck lady :).

What were your experiences with modesty in childbirth? If you had a c-section, what were your experiences? Anything I missed? Let me know!


6 thoughts on “A Guide to Childbirth for the Overly Modest

  1. I, too, am very modest, but like you, it totally went out the window when I gave birth. I have 3 kids, and when the time comes, I just want them out of there! I had pitocin, too, every time. No pain medication though (my fear of side effects is greater than the pain- just barely). And no one ever showered me. It’s interesting how everywhere does it differently. I sure wish the baby’s nurse was in the room when my first was born. He wasn’t breathing, I was getting stitched up, and my mil was about to go to the table where they laid him and do CPR, when the respiratory therapist finally came in and started working on him. He was fine after, but my husband and our mothers were really scared! So in my case more people in the room like you had would have helped, too.

    1. I’m so glad to hear that your baby was ok after that ordeal, that must have been terrifying. It really is interesting how it is done differently everywhere. Thanks for sharing your experiences Kimberley!

  2. Yep, for me, too, modesty pretty much went out the window. With both of my kids, the best things for me during labor was to be in the tub… With my second, I almost HAD the baby in the tub because he came so fast. I ended up with 3 nurses wrapping a towel around me and helping me, still mostly naked and wet, to the bed where I really don’t have any recollection of whether or not I was covered while I birthed my son. In that moment, I didn’t really care. 🙂 However, as soon as the baby was born, I was grateful to be covered back up and modest again.

    1. It really is kind of funny how we don’t care at all while giving birth, but then everything goes back to normal. Thanks for sharing your experiences Meg!

  3. Thank you so much for writing this. Yesterday I had the worst prenatal appointment ever… I absolutely did not want to do the strep b test because the thought of getting swabbed waaay down under has caused so much stress the last month. When I tried mentioning my concern to the doctor I was met with “your baby could die if you don’t get this test.” Not what I was saying… I know I’m overly modest and I know they see it all, but it jusut absolutely causes me so much anxiety to the point I don’t sleep the nights before. It was even more awful because a student was with my doctor and no one told me or asked me if this student could be in the room during our visit. I cried so hard after the morning appointment that my face was still swollen and red that evening (thanks pregnancy hormones). Lovely to find out after I got home and researched more that some doctors will actually let the woman do the swabbing herself in privacy. I’m not sure if you or anyone else who has commented on this feel as extreme about physical privacy as I do, but just even this article makes me feel better and normal about my concerns. Thank you and thank you again for sharing.

    1. I am so sorry you had such a bad experience. It was 100% wrong of the doctor to bring in a medical student without your consent. Infuriates me. I thought they were better about as asking these days. When I had my first, my very lovely female ob came into my exam room with a male in tow. She started to introduce him but I interrupted and said .. He needs to leave. She apologized. My blood pressure was through the roof. It was last couple of weeks of pregnancy where they do internal exams. I was furious she assumed I’d be okay with this 25 year old strange kid intruding into my space.

      Speak up ladies. Drs don’t get to mistreat us.

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