My online absence over the last couple of years is entirely due to a small boy who arrived in the winter of 2014. Although The Dress Doctor has barely stopped sewing in her West London studio, blogging and social media have been low priority.
Never in my life have so many people give me so much advice. Continuing the tradition I want to share what I’ve learnt about maternity clothing here to balance the “don’t buy anything” and the “you can’t get through without all this stuff” approaches. I have assumed the reader is at least open to if not planning to breast feed.
Plan of action
Go through your wardrobe and put aside everything you may be able to wear, at least for a while or whilst feeding.
You will want to consider:
• What size you will be in each season
• How much hotter you’ll feel than usual
• Your boobs and thighs are likely to expand as well
• Can the garment be worn open or differently to accommodate more you?
• Large scarves and shawls are handy to dignify bulging buttons and not-quite-together outfits
• Try things on and manoeuvre your breasts to see if you would be comfortable feeding in them
• You’ll be spending a lot of time in nightwear, make sure it’s comfy and you can feed in it
• Don’t rule out your partners clothes… all those oversize shirts and jumpers come in jolly handy for the last few weeks
Keep these items together and sideline anything that was always a bit too tight. As you outgrow items, put them to one side for re-emergence in a few months.
Now you have some clothes you can wear it’s time to consider what you want to wear!
• Your skin may be more sensitive than usual so stick to light and natural fabrics where possible.
• Ruched fabric is flattering and expands. Make sure the excess is in the torso as this will add length to garments as your baby grows.
• Elastic and drawstring are the waistbands of choice.
• You get most wear out of garments that are long and stretchy
Here are a few minor alterations that can help you extend the life of some garments with minor adaptations:
• Bra extenders – I fitted these to all my old bras before embracing maternity bras
• Maternity jeans are notorious for falling down. A piece of comfy boxer short elastic stitched on the line between the denim and the stretchy bit stops this.
Buying maternity clothes
There will come a time when you need to buy the odd thing. This is a total minefield, and at a time when you’re about to leave work or take a pay-cut, the last thing you want to do is spend money on the High Street offering of badly made clothes in poor fabrics.
On the whole I went for the for the ethical alternative… eBay is good, (and you’re helping a fellow Mum provide for her baby’s next stage) and all sorts of goodies emerged from charity shops.
Here are my top maternity shopping tips
• Do not buy anything that you do not like, is not your style or you would not have touched 6 months ago. You’re having a baby which is not the same as an identity crisis.
• Make sure everything you buy can be worn for feeding. Your body will be in a state of flux for some weeks and you will not want to skip out of hospital and straight to the shops for yet more stop-gap clothing. Izzy’s Mum has some good options
• Stop looking at sizes and start comparing garments to your body.
• Think about access to your body during medical appointments. You really don’t want to strip down every time someone needs to check you.
• Consider how obvious you want your pregnancy to be. Wearing a tight fitting dress will get you that seat on the bus quicker, but will also attract a whole bunch of baby related comments you may not want to deal with. Normal but oversized clothes, patterns and layers will act as camouflage.
This is what I would recommend buying. It means you can wear existing tops, jumpers, shirts and dresses but with dignity. Most of these have come in handy post-natally too.
• Maternity vests – these have extra support inside which is especially helpful at night.
• Maternity bras – I liked the Bravado silk seamless bra. It was comfy, expanded as needed and there was plenty of room for pads.
• Maternity bump bands – cheap and bridge that gap in the middle during the early weeks.
• Maternity leggings – brilliant with everything. Make sure they contain a bit of Lycra/ Elastane.
• Swimwear – even if your bikini goes around your bump, it’s unlikely your breasts will be contained.
• Waterproof coat – wearing your coat open in the rain isn’t great. Etsy had the best I came across, especially the 3-way versions for bump, baby wearing and back.
If your maternity wardrobe still needs a bit of help, please contact Jo who would be delighted to assist.
…continued in my guide to clothing for breastfeeding and babywearing.