A postpartum nurse weighs in on exactly what to wear after a hospital birth.

Whether breastfeeding, not breastfeeding, a vaginal birth, or a c-section, here’s exactly what you need to wear after a hospital birth from a postpartum nurse.

There are so many lists of what to pack in your hospital bag (including my own) for new moms. Everything listed below comes from my own experience as a postpartum nurse for over fifteen years and a mom of three. To make it simple, I’m adding separate sections for c-section moms and non-breastfeeding moms. There are certain items these mamas need, that breastfeeding and vaginal birth moms won’t.

During labor and birth, the majority of moms wear a hospital gown. You can use as many of these as needed during your hospital stay. Some moms choose to add their own touch to a labor gown by bringing their own. You do you! Easy access arm snaps are a good option and the main feature needed on a delivery gown. If you want your own, these are cute and hospital approved!

What to Wear after a Hospital Birth

Postpartum moms won’t be back to their pre-pregnancy size for many months. There is no rush here! Your body has accomplished so much. Growing and birthing a baby is no small feat, and your body is doing a great deal of hard work. The postpartum period is vital to recovery and transition to life with your new baby.

Can I encourage you in something? Just buy the postpartum clothing. Many moms continue to use maternity clothes (which is fine) or get the bare minimum because they “will only wear it for a short time.” But you need clothes that you don’t feel frumpy in.

The emotional toll that postpartum can take is a big deal. It’s hard enough to get a new baby ready to get out of the house. If we feel we have nothing to wear or don’t look good in what we have, it will be very difficult to find the motivation to get dressed and go out. But going out can be so good for your mental and emotional health.

Purchase a go-to postpartum outfit that your post-baby body feels lovely in. In fact, 2-3 outfits are best. Throw in one or two kimonos or cardigans, and you are ready for any outing that comes up. See below for some of the best postpartum outfits for any occasion.

What to Wear after a Hospital Birth

When do you need to start packing that hospital bag? Around 4 weeks before your due date. This gives you plenty of time to get the basics packed. Don’t forget to leave room for the last-minute essentials, like make-up, your hair dryer, and chargers. Remember to pack your baby’s bag too.

Keep in mind that after birthing your baby, you will still have a postpartum belly. We do not instantly go back to our pre-pregnancy weight! It takes time for our bellies and babies to grow and it will take time for our bodies to go back. When you come to the hospital in labor, your uterus is the size of a watermelon. After birth, it shrinks to the size of a cantaloupe. Though you instantly lose about 10-15 pounds after birth, it will take several months or more for the rest of the pregnancy weight to drop off.

The best postpartum clothes are going to be comfy clothes that are easy to get on and off, make it easy to nurse your baby, and will be about the size of your maternity clothes that fit you around six months of pregnancy.

What to Wear after a Hospital Birth

Below are some of the best options for what to pack in your hospital bag and wear after a hospital birth. These are essentials that you will be happy to have when the time comes. Not only do these options work well in the hospital, but they work well when you are back at home and over the first several weeks of recovery. I’m including the best postpartum outfit for going out as well!

Postpartum Hospital Outfits

Soon after birth, you will get up to the bathroom, get cleaned up, and put on some of your own clothes. Below is a great choice for the day of delivery. Hospitals typically have all the pads and peri cleaning supplies you need, so you won’t have to pack this in your bag, but you will need it once you are back home. Below is the best option for your first postpartum day.

Day of Delivery Postpartum Hospital Outfit

1. A Nursing Gown

This is one of the most comfortable and cute options you can choose. The best postpartum hospital outfit is simply a nursing gown. A nursing nightgown allows easy access while learning to breastfeed your newborn. It allows you to get to the bathroom, change your pad easily, and is pretty to look at. Click here for this recommended gown.

2. Postpartum Underwear

What I love most about Frida Postpartum Underwear is they give just enough needed tummy support while also doing the job of holding your pad in place. They are comfy, stretchy, and made to be thrown away! They also have a bit of absorbent ability so if you do leak, they give a bit of extra protection for your clothing. Though the hospital offers mesh underwear, there isn’t much to them. These are comfortable underwear that gives extra support. Get them here.

3. Nursing Bras

You may wear a nursing bra the first day and you may choose not to. It’s based on your preference. You definitely will need them within the first week. Maternity bras are different than nursing bras and are not made for easy breastfeeding. Momcozy is one of my favorite everyday nursing bra brands. They are incredibly soft and comfortable and do the job well. They also look flattering! See them here. (NEVER buy nursing bras with underwire. It can cause mastitis.)

Other Must-Have Postpartum Hospital Essentials

1. Postpartum Pajamas

If you are a pajama person, you need a good pair of postpartum pajamas. If choosing a long sleeve outfit, make it something easy to pull on and off for blood pressure checks. Maternity pajamas may work as long as they have breastfeeding access for your baby. These Kindred Bravely pajamas are cool enough to wear in summer and warm enough for winter. They are incredibly soft to keep mom comfortable. These pajamas also sport a comfortable waistband and have nursing access for your baby. They are discreet enough to wear in the hospital and around visitors but still versatile for taking care of yourself and your baby. See them here.

2. Postpartum Leggings

These are a must-have for your postpartum experience. If you had a good pair of maternity leggings, they may do the job. You want stretchy pants that are comfortable but supportive. These postpartum leggings look good and offer good support. They are great for your hospital stay, around the house, and outings when paired with a cute top. Get them here.

3. Nursing Tank Top

Nursing Tank Tops are a great option for easy nursing access. These have a built-in bra so no need to pair a nursing bra with them. They are great for sleeping and can also hold nursing pads if needed. I delivered all of my babies in the summertime and practically lived in these for months. They are super comfortable and convenient for the nursing mama. See them here.

5. A Pair of Slip-On Shoes

A good pair of slip-on shoes is a must for moving around your hospital room. Comfy and roomy is key after having your baby! Even if your feet weren’t swollen during pregnancy, it is normal for them to swell a good bit after delivering your baby. This can last for up to a week. The last thing you need are shoes that your feet won’t fit into for your ride home. A good option is these Bronax pillow slippers. Bonus: They have over 15 color options.

Looking for other recommendations for pregnancy, nursing, postpartum, and newborn? Visit my Amazon Storefront for the best, nurse-approved products!

6. Lip Balm, Hair Ties, Hair Brush, & Cozy Socks

These are a few items that are forgotten the most. Lip Balm is a lifesaver during labor when you aren’t able to drink much. Hair Ties are great for pulling back the hair in hormonal sweat sessions. Nothing beats being able to brush your hair when it’s time. And calming, cozy socks are well…cozy. They can be a great comfort measure in an unfamiliar environment.

What to Wear after a Hospital Birth

Postpartum Going-Home Outfit

These four combos are great options for your first ride home. Choose comfy clothes that make it easy to ride in the car and that you don’t mind wearing for photos. With my first baby, I only packed gowns not thinking I would want real clothes to leave in. The photos make me laugh!

These outfits also work beautifully for getting out and about, once you feel ready, with your baby. They are comfortable clothes that still will make you feel put together.

1. Your Maternity Jeans & A Nursing Shirt

Maternity jeans will still fit well after having your baby as long as they fit you around six months of pregnancy. Jeans instantly make you look and feel “dressed.” These nursing shirts are cute and comfortable. Don’t forget the nursing bra and the postpartum underwear! Flip flops or the Bronax pillow slides will work well for shoes.

postpartum outfits

2. Postpartum Leggings, A Nursing Tank Top, & A Cute Kimono Cover

You can’t go wrong with simply pairing postpartum leggings, a nursing tank top, and a cute kimono cover. The kimono cover-up conceals the clips on the tank top, covers your bottom (and postpartum underwear lines), and adds an airy, soft feel to your outfit. Add those roomy flip-flops or pillow slides and you’re ready to go.

3. A Postpartum Dress

Simple to throw on and comfy enough to go all day in. A postpartum dress is made for easy nursing access. I like this one because it is easy to conceal breastfeeding while leaving the shoulders covered. Great for summertime or perfect with a simple cardigan for spring or fall. See it here.

4. The Overalls Jumpsuit Romper

So stinking cute and fashionable but still doable with nursing. Pair the overalls jumpsuit romper with a sleeveless nursing top and you have an effortless postpartum outfit. For the first week of postpartum, you will probably need shoes that are roomy for swelling, so flip flops or slides. After that, a cute pair of white sneakers look great.

C-Section Essentials:

1. A Belly Band

Though I don’t recommend a belly band for every delivery, c-section patients could almost always benefit from them. With a c-section, the abdominal muscles are cut leaving them weak and in need of extra support. A belly band helps lift the tummy, relieves pain, and keeps a mom from feeling that her “guts are hanging out.” Your hospital may have these for you. It’s a good idea to ask your healthcare provider.

2. The C-Panty

Great for those c-section incision checks! The C-Panty has a medical-grade silicone panel to minimize scarring and itchiness while reducing the chance of infection around the delicate incision area. It also offers targeted compression for weak abdominal muscles. At around $20, they are a bit pricey, but you only need 1-2 pairs. Get it here.

Non-Breastfeeding Essentials:

1. A Supportive Bra

If breastfeeding isn’t right for you, be sure to pack a supportive bra. Stimulation of the breast can encourage milk production. A supportive bra (without an underwire) can keep your breast secure. Your milk may still come in, but compression will help discourage it. A fitted sports bra will work well. Puma makes a good choice.

What to Wear after a Hospital Birth

I hope you found what you needed to pack for your hospital postpartum outfits, as well as a few go-to’s for those outings once you are back home. The recommended items are essentials for the fourth trimester, and you will be glad to have them. Even better, add a few of these items to your shower registries!

Best wishes to you!

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Rachel is a Postpartum Nurse of 15+ years. She is also a Spinning Babies® CPE, Childbirth Educator, Published Author, and Recipe Creator. Rachel's passion is to encourage and empower women in all things related to motherhood.

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