NAMPA, Idaho — When it comes to giving birth, most women who’ve done it will tell you it’s exhilarating, exhausting and astonishing. It’s not, however, when women usually feel their most confident or put-together - so a pair of Nampa sisters are hoping to change that mindset with their line of unique, luxury birthing gowns that help moms feel beautiful even while giving birth.
The sisters - Aleena Hill and April Millar - know a thing or two about childbirth. Besides both of them being doulas and childbirth educators, they also have nine children between them. Somewhere along the way, though, the women realized something fundamental was missing in the childbirth experience.
“Watching women show up to their births confident in what they know and how they want to do it…” was a wonderful thing, says Millar, “[but] then watching them put that hospital gown on and almost immediately see a shift into 'wait, I don't know what I'm doing, I'm not sure what's happening,’” was disheartening, she says.
The sisters saw an opportunity to help women feel confident not just in how they gave birth, but in what, as well. They figured, “If we could get women out of the hospital gowns and into something they felt powerful and beautiful and confident in” would be powerful, ” .. especially when they're pregnant which is really difficult because you don't feel powerful, beautiful or confident.”
So in 2019, after two years of brainstorming and designing, the sisters launched Dear Darby, their line of one-of-a-kind luxury birthing gowns that are both functional, and fun. The gowns come in two pieces: a functional top with a built-in bra along with skin-to-skin and nursing access, and a short or long skirt that snaps on (and snaps open) to provide easy access for things like monitoring and epidurals.
The gowns are all made of moisture-wicking and washable fabric, so women turn them into a keepsake once their child is born, but it was almost important to Millar and Hill to make the gowns fashionable, as well.
“We have bright colors, because again it does kind of transform how you feel about yourself when you show up in a bright and excited way,” says Millar.
The sisters found that not only were the gowns a hit with moms, but medical staff, too.
“Almost every single birth that a woman wears this to,” says Hill, “She will contact us and say I loved it, but it was amazing how much my nurses and doctors loved it.”
Dear Darby gowns also provide a sense of modesty for photos that preserve a moment where, more often than not, women feel completely exposed.
“Not only will you not have the hospital gown as the floppy tent huge mess, but you're also covered in a way that you feel you can share pictures,” Millar told us.
Hill and Millar admit their Idaho-based business may be new, but already they’ve built connections with women across the country and even into Canada who have worn a Dear Darby gown during the birth of their baby. “We love that space that we've created, the community we've created, of all these women,” the sisters say. “I mean any [and all] births, we've had C-sections, epidurals, all the kinds of birth, but everybody's there for each other.”
The women - both experienced doulas and childbirth educators - also recently launched an online course for women interested in having an unmedicated birth, called “Unmedicated Birth Academy.” The 8-week course is designed to teach women how to prepare their mind and body for having a baby.