First: I am not pregnant. We had a baby when I was 22 and she’s a sparkly funny curly haired angel child and I love her beyond all reason. There, that’s out of the way… No internet rumors! However, most of my friends are or were pregnant in the past year so it’s on my radar. This post is in response to a comment Jessica left on the Fluffer- Draper post last Saturday:
“So, question for you if that’s okay. I wear late 50s silhouette dresses all the time to the office. I LOVE them. But right now I’m pregnant and desperately missing my waist. I’d like to be able to return to my favorite style post-baby, but wondered if you have any advice for breast feeding friendly clothes. I guess shirt dresses (like Betty’s) are a start, right?”
Everyone has a different experience of pregnancy. I am answering Jessica candidly from my own knowledge and experience because her question reminds me of me. I used examples of vintage maternity styles *I’d* wear to break up the text and give you an idea of what’s possible. I linked each image back to it’s source, just click on it. Most of the images come from really great articles on this subject.
Jessica- I missed my waist, too, when I was expecting. I was terrified about what would happen to my body. Not labor (I was strangely calm about the whole idea) but what would happen to my figure. Some may call it vanity, but that’s an oversimplification. At that point, a new immigrant and young wife living 10,000 miles from my friends and family, losing my figure felt like a direct threat to my last remaining shred of personal identity.
At the time, my husband’s well-meaning relatives told me things along the lines of “you can’t control what happens,” “it’s genetics,” “your body will do what it does,” “you can’t get hung up on looks,” etc. My sister-in-law was pregnant at the same time and kind of glared me down any time I brought up the subject. As if I was less of a mother because I cared about my figure. It was horrifying to have my concerns sidelined so completely.
My husband’s relatives were correct, up to a point. There’s a lot about pregnancy that’s out of your hands, but then again there’s plenty you can do that’s good for your baby and for your body that will help you fit back into your 50’s dresses…
I looked after my health and diet, got rid of unhealthy habits, did yoga and walked nearly every day until a week or two from birth. I didn’t obsessively count calories but I did not “eat for two.” I was rather “by the book” about my pregnancy health and wouldn’t you know, it worked pretty well.
I rubbed body butter on my tummy skin and thighs every day when I started to show, which was great for “itchy skin”. Maybe I’m lucky, maybe the butter helped or both, but I don’t have stretch marks and my skin more or less “bounced back” after a while.
Post-natal, I fell in love with my baby and also wallowed in “I hate my milky-flabby-smelly-post-baby-body” blues. One day, I was having a temper fit about a skirt that was mysteriously too small for me and my husband intervened. He told me that he loved me regardless of how I looked but I should learn to accept the body I have or work to change it. He pointed out that wallowing in self-pity was a waste of time and made both of us miserable. The light bulb went on in my head. Smart man.
(Related Mommy Tip- when you’re a new mommy make showering a priority. At least once a day. For the challenge, comb your hair and pin it back. It sounds silly but it’s easy to miss out and then you smell like milk stains and feel grotty..)
I started working with weights and gentle pilates, slowly re-building my abdominal wall and my connection to my new body. I didn’t lose a huge amount of weight, but I became stronger, fitter, and reveled in the fact I could *finally* keep up with my husband on hikes and bike rides. However, I am not a peak physical specimen and I am a size or two bigger than pre-baby. I call it a happy medium between “letting myself go completely” lassitude and “OMG I HAVE TO FIT INTO MY PRE-BABY CLOTHES TOMORROW!” hysterics. I still have a little front pouch that is not going away regardless of how much abdominal work I do, and I have made my peace with it.
My #1 bit of sartorial advice for a new breast-feeding mother (or really any new mother): Buy Some Awesome Maternity Bras. Really. Save a little of the money you might get as gifts, wait until the second month of breastfeeding when your boobs calm down, then do it. Your bra is the foundation for your clothes; nothing’s worse than spurting milk every which way, overflowing your bra when you already feel huge (quadraboob effect), and fumbling with shotty clasps to unhook your saggy milk drenched bra cup for a 3am feeding. Moooooo. It’s so much nicer if your bras are well-made and well-designed; I suggest two or three for rotation. Pretty doesn’t hurt, either. I liked Hot Milk- yes, they’re expensive, but they are worth every cent.
#2 Advice- Go read Mikhalea’s blog Polka Dot Overload. She’s fun and thorough, and she carefully documented a LOT of her recent pregnancy patternwork and clothing choices. She also posts post-partum wardrobe choices and sizing advice. Also check out Luvinthemommyhoodfor their excellent maternity sewing round-up.
#3 Advice- Take lots of photos. Pregnancy is beautiful (and kind of sensual… I mean, there was only one Immaculate Conception, right?). It’s an amazing process our bodies go through despite all the nagging worries we have that go along with a rapidly changing body. You won’t be pregnant forever, so take time to stop and enjoy it. Try to be as healthy and relaxed as you can.
I’m working to make a “Mommy Top” pattern too- breastfeeding and mommy friendly, more on that soon. Though I’ll undoubtedly change the name…
Do you have any links or wisdom for expecting mommies to add? I’d love to hear it!