Wasteful and ridiculous

jen on the edge - landfill

Oh look, that landfill is chock-full of discarded delivery gowns. (Photo credit: Yahoo Images.)

A friend of mine who is having a baby next month emailed me a link to this product — a “100% Organic Cotton Disposable Delivery/Labor Gown.”

A disposable gown, y’all. For delivering babies. But it’s not made of paper, it’s made of organic cotton. Which is not meant to be disposable.

Here’s the product description (abridged):

…meant to be worn, disposed of, and not have hot water and harsh chemicals wasted on cleaning them (Emphasis my own). This is a smart option to other designer delivery gowns which cost too much to be ‘disposable’, yet really what else can be done with a messy gown that’s just gone through labor…be washed by the hospital staff? Bagged up and taken home 2 days later? Not a chance! … 

You know, childbirth is messy, but honestly, I’m pretty sure that all hospitals in the U.S. of A. have laundry facilities.

And, hello? Does anyone think that pregnant women have actually taken leave of their senses? They’re not stupid. They know that even more hot water and harsh chemicals went into the making of that gown (and all the others made with it) than would be used by throwing it into the wash with some organic detergent.

I don’t care if that this magic gown is made of 100% organic cotton. This is called greenwashing and it’s basically just insidious marketing. Wasteful is wasteful and throwing away a once-worn nightgown is beyond ridiculous. Why not just put on the hospital gown that has been washed by professionals and will be washed again by professionals when you’re done?

Okay, so I understand that there are some women who want to have a magical experience when they deliver– complete with singing woodland creatures, rainbows, and shooting stars — and they want to look pretty too. They don’t think that the gowns provided by hospitals are pretty. I’ll grant you that. You do not want to say, “Does this make my pregnant ass look fat” while wearing one of those.

But here’s the honest truth from someone who’s seen active duty in the delivery room twice:

Childbirth is pretty magical, but not in the way you think it will be. The magic is that something that large came out of an area so small and you live to tell the tale. To this day, I still cannot believe that I birthed 7-odd and 8-odd pound babies. Even as I was getting the epidurals put in place, it still felt like I had dolls in there. There’s just no way full-size babies were coming out. Imagine my surprise TWICE when I was indeed proven wrong and there was actually room for a full-size newborn in my own personal uterus.

That’s the magic of childbirth, as far as I’m concerned.

So trust me, ladies who’ve never given birth: You’re not going to see rainbows and unicorns and part of your magical experience. Tinkerbell is not going to sprinkle fairy dust on you.

Here’s the reality: You’re going to spend some amount of time — whether it’s 30 minutes (my mother, with me) or two days (another relative) — very focused on the task at hand, which is getting that baby out, via whatever means necessary. You’re not going to care that you’ll be sweaty and that there will be all sorts of messes on the delivery table (hey, you can’t see beyond your belly anyway) and you sure as hell won’t care what you’re wearing. You won’t care who sees you during this time. Just wear the gowns that the hospital provides and don’t waste money on a disposable gown that’s not really disposable.

Afterward, however, when you’ve rested and showered, there’s a possibility that you might care more. That’s when you pull out the pretty robe and slippers you packed and wear those over the hospital gown. Then you take them home and have your spouse/significant other launder them for you while you sit in on a soft sofa or chair and bask in the glory of what you’ve done.

Just to make sure I’m not way off base here, I’ll open this one up for discussion: What do you think of the idea of wearing your own delivery gown and not the hospital’s? And what do you think of the idea of it being disposable?

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14 Responses to Wasteful and ridiculous

  1. I can imagine there are some prima donnas that would say “Ewwww, wear a hospital gown that someone else has worn?” Do they bring their own sheets and blankets when they sleep in a hotel?

    I think when I had one of the kids I brought an old cotton bathrobe to the hospital to wear during labor. I gave birth at a Hippie-Dippy hospital that didn’t believe in IV’s, fetal monitors or oxygen. I skipped the epidural and spent my labors walking the floors, bouncing on big giant yoga balls, going to look at the babies in the newborn nursery and watching a basketball game. I didn’t want my bare butt hanging out for all the world to see.

  2. Smalltown Me says:

    I think it’s far more wasteful to throw a gown away than to wash it.

  3. I just don’t know what to say. It is amazing to think you’d buy a gown (At $44 no less) and then throw it away. At least it’s cotton, which will biodegrade, and not plastic or nylon or something?

    Cotton farming is rough on the soil, and the environmental footprint caused by manufacturing it far outweighs the footprint caused by washing it. Geez.

  4. bdaiss says:

    I’m pretty sure I DID see unicorns and rainbows and pixies with fairy dust with the first drug they gave me while I was attempting to dislodge the Boy (and darn it I can’t remember what it was). Unfortunately what it DIDN’T do is make me any more comfortable. But man was it a trip!

    This is so definitely greenwashing. And also sad because I know people who would buy it and think they were doing a “good thing”.

  5. Patience says:

    I agree that this is greenwashing. What about all the water and harsh chemicals used to wash the mountain of bed linens on a birthing bed, not to mention the paper and plastic that’s thrown away with all the chucks pads and other disposable hospital paraphenalia?
    Hospitals generate a HUGE amount of waste, whether through water use, medical waste, and plain trash. There isn’t really a good way to stop it, that I can see. For example, if a patient is on contact precautions, every nurse, doctor, aid, visitor, random staff, must put on a paper gown and gloves every time they enter the room and throw the gown in the trash as soon as they leave the room. If a hospital unit has six patients on isolation and people enter and exit each of their rooms dozens of times a day, the amount of waste is staggering. But the alternative is spreading infection on your clothing to other patients.

    I chose to wear a hospital gown, but honestly, I don’t think it’s all that gross if you want to wear your own things and wash them at home. The ad implies that this is totally disgusting. It’s your own blood, after all, and what do they think women who give birth at home do, throw ALL their sheets in the trash?

    My husband has come home numerous times, from his job in the emergency department, wearing borrowed clothes with his bloody scrubs in a plastic bag. Now THAT’S gross. The hospital should really provide scrubs and laundry for all staff, not just the OR and L&D.

  6. Jenn3128 says:

    My womb seized up on itself while reading this. Yikes.

    I don’t even know what to say about that gown. Wasteful that’s for sure.

  7. Sue Treiber says:

    I did see unicorns and rainbows. Wait, that might have been from the c-sections.
    Either way.
    I, for one, would have forgotten to pack the expensive, unnecessary gown. Besides, you need a little humor during delivery, and what better source than your outfit? My SIL and I laughed for hours over the weird panties the hospital gave her.

  8. Laurie says:

    I actually had a custom gown made for my sister in law. I picked the fabric and my friend made it. It was hospital approved so it had all the openings and snaps in the right places. She’ll be wearing it again this year for her second baby. But, I would not spend the money for myself. I just wanted to do something nice for her. It was under $50. Would I buy a disposable one? No.

  9. For some reason, I have this vision of Snow White in the forest… ala Shrek… who then breaks out in Led Zep’s Immigrant Song… now THAT is a childbirth experience! Aurally, that is. :)
    The only thing I brought from home to use at the hospital was a couple of nursing gowns. After the first kid, there were plenty of diapers and dirty clothes waiting for me at home already.

  10. Cassi Renee says:

    Not only is it greenwashing, but it plays into this idea that birth is somehow a dirty thing. C’mom –we’re all made of recycled stuff anyway! Somehow, things associated with being a woman continue to be viewed as unclean, even now.

    I think it’s amusing that anyone would think a woman in labor gives a hoot about what she actually looks like. I just remember yelling at Rob to stop telling me how to breathe!

    • Patience says:

      I absolutely agree with you. Childbirth is not gross.

      If a woman really wants a birth that has a minimal impact on the environment, she should consider a planned homebirth with a midwife. No plastic IV bags or drugs wrapped in plastic wrappers or all the other myriad of stuff and garbage that comes with a hospital stay.

  11. I think that today’s young women are way too interested in planning everthing and trying to make each moment of their lives a specail one. Geez. Life is messy and the good stuff is usually spontaneous. The hospital gowns work great for nursing and let someone else take care of the wash.

    I think marketing like this should be illegal. The amount of waste is going to take over the earth.

  12. Kari says:

    In the UK, the hospital doesn’t provide you with a gown, so you have to bring in your own. I have no idea where the one I wore giving birth went to. I changed into a clean one straight after delivery and I never saw the original one again…and neither did I want to.

  13. Green Girl in Wisconsin says:

    I wore a cotton hospital gown that had been worn by hundreds of women before me–and after it was laundered, hundreds after me I’m sure. What a wasteful product!!!

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