You know when you gain a bunch of weight and then you think to yourself, “I should go shopping in order to celebrate this; surely the experience will make me feel beautiful and confident and I can hardly wait to go!”? Oh. You Don’t? That’s funny, neither do I.
And yet, when you become pregnant, you are faced with this exact scenario.
Although I still have a few pieces of maternity wear hanging around in a ball in my closet from my first pregnancy, I recently decided to hit the mall to treat myself. And what a treat it was. Because I’ve convinced myself that, much like Amy Poehler’s character in Mean Girls, “I’m not like a regular mom, […] I’m a cool mom.”, I decided that I wanted to continue to shop at the stores I frequented prior to requiring pants with an elastic waistband. On this spiritual journey, I realized that there are many reasons why I had made a mistake in ever thinking I could look as cool as so many pregnant ladies I have seen and pinned on my beloved “Maternity Fashion” board. Upon returning home, I promptly deleted every “inspirational” look I had once coveted and renamed the board “Maternity Yoga Pants”. I then thought long and hard about the reasons why I find shopping for maternity clothing to be my second favourite pregnancy activity after the act of giving birth itself, and have outlined them below for your reading pleasure.
1. The Selection
I decided to try to shop at three different stores that weren’t specifically dedicated to maternity wear, but I knew carried clothing for pregnant ladies. I felt a bit like the wolf visiting the homes of the three little pigs. When I arrived at my first destination, I huffed, and I puffed (literally – pregnancy breathlessness is no joke) and I discovered that apparently they no longer sell maternity wear in-store. Of course, I was very pleased to discover this, because the only thing I enjoy more than guessing if something I’m buying online is going to fit is attempting to do so with a body that I have no idea how anything fits onto, giving me no clue where to even start.
I waddled on to choice number two, where I was absolutely delighted to find that there were approximately 12 pieces of clothing to choose from, rammed into a shadowy corner at the back of the store. Needless to say, it didn’t take me long to rifle through my vast array of options before determining that absolutely nothing was to my taste, so, it was on to my last choice.
What I loved about this particular store was the way the clothing was displayed in the maternity section. There is something so thrilling about digging through rumpled dresses laying in a pile on the floor or shoved so tightly onto a rack that you can hardly even tell what you’re looking at, that I knew I was destined for a magical experience from the moment I arrived. While they actually did have a few cute pieces, when I found something I liked, it tended to only come in extra small or extra large (the only two sizes that pregnant ladies come in, obviously). Once again, I was feeling pretty defeated, but did manage to find one dress to put on the “maybe pile”, so I guess that’s a win?
2. The Price
I know that clothing manufacturers are out there to make money, so I really don’t expect them to sympathize with me on this point, but maybe you will. I’m the kind of person who would way rather brag about an awesome deal that I got than how much I spent on something, although I will splurge on myself from time to time. When it comes to buying clothes that are going to fit me for no longer than three or four months, though, I have an incredibly hard time dropping $80 on a pair of pants.
Here’s the thing about pregnant ladies. Society still requires us to wear clothes, especially if we work or wish to participate in any activities outside of our homes. For 9 months, our bodies are constantly changing, meaning we have to buy new stuff to cover ourselves up, and for those of us who work in any kind of professional environment, we have to wear specific types of attire. We can’t even guarantee that we can re-wear the clothing we’ve bought from previous pregnancies, because there is no guarantee that our bodies will be the same size each time. Furthermore, if we happen to be pregnant during different seasons each time, that means we’ll need an entirely new wardrobe as well. We’re helping to provide the world with more adorable cheeks to pinch – shouldn’t there be some kind of reward for that?
3. The Fit
The two options for maternity wear seem to be either skin tight or circus tent. If you are any size other than extra small or extra large, you’d better be visiting your favourite maternity websites on the daily, or just hope and pray you’ll get lucky at an actual store, because it seems like all other sizes sell out incredibly fast. Apparently there are a lot of pregnant ladies out there who come in many different sizes and they all want to wear clothing that actually fits them. Imagine that.
4. The Style
I will acknowledge that there are some really cute maternity clothes out there, as indicated by my now-extinct Pinterest board, but I haven’t had the best luck finding them in real life. I’m not totally sure who is in charge of designing attire for pregnant ladies, but it would seem that all of the pregnant women they know prefer to wear four styles of clothing in particular, which include the following: horizontal stripes, mumus, shirts with cutesy/sparkly pictures or sayings on them, or super-tight grey cotton shirts which create the perfect conditions for gigantic armpit stains on those extra sweaty days (i.e. every day when you’re pregnant).
5. The Longevity
As I mentioned before, possibly the most painful thing about shopping for maternity clothes is knowing that you will only be getting a few months of wear out of them before you’ve either grown out of them or you’ve given birth. Post-maternity, the chances of you re-wearing any of your maternity is approximately zilch.
As tempting as it is to pull a Joey from FRIENDS and bust out the maternity pants for Thanksgiving dinner, I have yet to actually do this in real life. Dresses that were once cute to wear with my giant belly look frumpy as the extra fabric lays rumpled over my non-pregnant one. Shirts that say “PREGGERS” or “BABY ON BOARD” are the perfect invitation for awkward conversations when you are no longer preggers with a baby on board. And once you’re no longer pregnant, you get to face an entirely new set of challenges as you move on to the whimsical world of trying to find tops designed with the capability of whipping your boob out on a dime for breastfeeding. FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, KID, WILL I EVER WEAR A NORMAL SHIRT AGAIN!?
I write all of this to say, if you are feeling overwhelmed with the experience of purchasing maternity wear, you are not alone. You also do have a few options to combat the challenges I’ve mentioned above, and I won’t leave you hanging to try and figure them out for yourself.
1. My first and favourite option is to lend your maternity wardrobe to friends in need and ask them to do the same. I had incredible luck with this in my first pregnancy and only ended up having to buy a few key pieces for myself.
2. Another option is to scour the world wide web on sites like Craigslist, Kijiji, and Mom’s Groups on Facebook or other social media websites for pre-loved clothes. Sometimes you’ll hit the jackpot and score some really awesome deals on secondhand maternity wear that mamas are looking to get rid of (this is also a great place to look for secondhand kids’ clothes).
3. Look for consignment or secondhand maternity stores. They do exist, and give a lot of options for maternity wear on the cheap with the added benefit of being able to try them on.
4. Wear your partner’s clothes if they’re bigger than you. I definitely unapologetically wore my husband’s T-Shirts on more than one occasion on the weekends.
5. Keep wearing those yoga pants! You’d be surprised (or maybe you won’t) just how much those babies will stretch.
6. Suck it up and just go to the actual maternity wear store (sometimes chains or brands have outlet maternity stores, so that’s a good option if you want to save a few bucks!)
6. Join a nudist colony where you don’t have to worry about any of this shizz.
Good luck, mama-to-be!