Friday, April 26, 2013

Pregnancy Wardrobe Solutions

Warning: This post will only be of interest to pregnant woman and their partners.

I had three pregnancy wardrobe challenges, likely similar to many pregnant ladies. First off, I knew I didn't want to "go public" with the pregnancy for quite a while. Being a bit older (I turned 35 mid-pregnancy) we had lots of extra tests we needed to "pass" prior to being confident that things were okay with our girl. By the time everything was okay test wise it was already November so we figured we might as well wait until Christmas to tell the family in person. Which meant my colleagues, who I see daily, wouldn't find out until January which would be already half way- 22 weeks to be exact! So my first wardrobe challenge was to keep things hidden until past week 22. I'm generally in decent shape and always have a flat stomach so anything visible in that region would arise suspicion. 

My 2nd challenge was work-out gear. Since I knew I'd be staying active right up to the delivery room door (I literally walked extra distance from clinic to the hospital triage on the day of delivery to ensure I got my mile in that day), well fitting and highly functional work-out wear was a MUST. These are items I'd be wearing daily for at least my mile run and on most days also for weights, spinning or hill climbing. 

My 3rd challenge was probably the most universal- clothes that are still flattering yet accommodate the growing belly. Believe it or not most regular clothes are NOT flattering during pregnancy and there are plenty of so-called maternity clothes that are no better. And if I'm going to all the trouble to workout consistently during pregnancy and control my weight gain, I might as well let my maternity clothes show that off, right? No blobby men's t-shirts or muumuus here.

At the same time, however, I am practical and did not want to spend tons of money on clothes I would only wear for a few months. Additionally, I don't love shopping. So how to put this all together? This post is a quick summary of what I did clothes-wise and I think it might be helpful to other active, fit women, willing to purchase a few high quality items (read: expensive) but also willing to repeat the same outfits over and over for a few months! I'd rather wear good clothes repetitively rather than crappy clothes with tons of variety. If you are like me, read on! (Spouses and partners too- Adam was integral in finding a lot of these resources!)

1. Tip #1. Stay away (or only VERY SELECTIVELY buy) from Pea in the Pod, Destination Maternity, and other "discount" maternity stores. While they do have some nice items, particularly a few dresses worth considering, their basics- T shirts and leggings- are cheap in every sense of the word and don't fit that well. I returned >50% of what I bought from this store. I would NOT on-line shop at these places- go to the store and actually try things on if you feel compelled to buy from here. Some items are fine - I have 2 dresses and one sweater top that I really like, but many other items are ill-fitting or just poorly made.

2. Tip #2. Consider Isabella Oliver for your staple items. It's a British maternity and nursing clothes company with very high quality, stylish options. They utilize empire waists, ties, and ruching  in all the right ways so the clothes are form fitting and flattering. I love the three items below. I also would suggest the plain black leggings. I've been very pleased with these items from before I was showing, to the end of my pregnancy (week 36). Now that baby girl is here, I've actually found the Emily dress and the jersey shirt to be great postpartum with easy access for pumping/breastfeeding, so certainly worth the investment. To be honest, they are nice clothes in their own right- you don't need to be peri-partum to get use from them. (Note: I did NOT like the Everyday Maternity dress- not very flattering.)

Emily dress- 32 weeks

Emily dress- DAY OF DELIVERY,
though didn't know it at the time, 36 weeks 5 days

Layering Scoop Neck Top-  31 weeks

The relaxed jersey maternity

3. Tip #3: Liz Lange maternity makes a quality V-neck T-shirt. I can't speak for their other items but I got a black shirt as a gift and it has served me very well. Very reasonably priced for a basic item- worth getting one or two for under layers with sweaters. Will continue to wear postpartum as well.

4. Tip #4: Live in tights, leggings and jeggings with dresses and long sweaters/shirts. I never bought a pair of maternity jeans- I really didn't see the point in buying a 100-200 pair of designer jeans that I would never wear post-pregnancy. Plus they didn't sound comfortable. Plus when you work 5-7 days a week, there are few opportunities to wear jeans. So I lived in tights with dresses and outfits with jeggings. I LOVE the Athleta Bettona Jegging. I loved them before pregnancy and so I bought an additional pair one size up during pregnancy. To be honest, I worse the pre-pregnancy pair throughout as well- they are stretchy enough that they were still comfortable. And, while $79 may seem like a lot for jeggings, I wore them multiple times a week and will continue to wear them postpartum and beyond. So totally worth it.

Bettona jeggings- 24 weeks

5. Tip #5: Work-out gear. Since I exercise every single day it was very important to find fitness gear that was comfortable and flattering. I perused the various maternity fitness brands on-line but ended up going with Lululemon pants and shirts, which worked great and again, I'll be able to keep wearing for years to come. I bought all purpose black pants and barre pants one size higher than my usual to keep them comfortable, but they should still do now that I'm nearly back to my pre-pregnancy weight. I bought my usual size shirt- the two I choose I highly recommend- the 'No Limits Tank' and the 'Back on Track' tank. Both have plenty of extra fabric in front to expand with a growing belly, both have enough support for running for the modest chested, and both are totally flattering postpartum (or pre-pregnancy) as well. Additional bonus- they hide the bump when it's small, thus avoiding that awkward looking fat vs looking pregnant phase in the 2nd trimester.

I swam until week 34 when I became concerned about diathesis recti and/or not noticing my water breaking, so I stopped. I just used a regular swimsuit I already had knowing it would get stretched out and I'd probably need a new one postpartum. I did actually buy a maternity tankini at Target but found I much preferred the additional belly support that a one piece provided.

Lastly, I did purchase an Ammon maternity band for spinning after week 34, again out of concern for diathesis recti. Not sure it made a difference but was certainly comfortable enough.
No Limits Tank- 31 weeks
Back on Track Tank- 34 weeks

6. Tip #6. Lastly, since baby girl arrived before I posted this, I might as well add on my recommendation for nursing bras. So far I've been very happy with Boob Design bras and their night nursing cami. Jury is still out on the shirts. I have one that is pretty good, waiting on a 2nd, will let you know!

Hope this helps! I was a bit lost until my husband pushed me to order high quality, designer pieces despite the expense and he was right. I literally only bought 15 items that I was able to mix and match throughout. They served to 1) hide the bump until month 5 when I went public, 2) show off the bump in a flattering and fun way as it grew and 3) remain reasonable postpartum wardrobe pieces. Win, win, win!

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