I made a lot of mistakes when I first started bump-shopping and you can easily avoid making the same mistakes I did by taking these nine common problems into account.
It’s nice to learn from the ‘bumps’ on someone else’s journey.
PROBLEM ONE: Floaty, flowery, billowy, pillowy (Think ‘Sack’)
You don’t have to venture far when searching for maternity wear before you encounter the ‘sack’. It seems a one-size-fits-most kind of ballooning expanse of fabric is a common solution to the problem of dressing the bump. But what if you like your changing body shape? What if you want to show off your new curves? A glorified poncho is probably not going to cut it.
The first solution to the sack is a belt – although it is difficult to know where to put it in the later stages of pregnancy. A wide coma bund is a useful accessory ( and it can be made out of a long scarf) to wear under the bust and at the top of the bump to bring back some shape to these outfits but ultimately the ‘sack’ is always going to be a challenging option.
Some designers disguise the sack with bold patterns and fabric options, but you are still at risk of losing yourself inside a billowy-pillow-shape. Some positives to the sack include the breathability and comfort of wearing a loose-fitting top/dress/poncho – but the shapelessness of the sack is a negative aspect that is hard to forget.
PROBLEM TWO: Feminised man-wear
Another solution to dressing your bump is to take a small side-step into your man’s wardrobe. Wear his shirts as a dress over tights. Wear his pants with braces and a singlet. You can save a lot of money this way by not indulging in the purchase of any maternity-specific clothing – but it is difficult to feminise a lot of men’s clothing. (Plus if I tried to wear my man’s clothing I would end up looking more like a fat grease monkey/mechanic which I would rather avoid…)
PROBLEM THREE: Tightness
Tightness affects maternity in two ways.
The first definition of ‘tightness’ refers to the sudden sensation of having ‘gorse pockets’ (where it hurts each time you dip your hand into your wallet). Because maternity businesses can only ‘catch a customer’ at a particular time (when the customer is pregnant), the prices of maternity fashion are a reflection of a single-item-buy and consequently a lot of maternity fashion is truly expensive. Naturally you will be feeling the need to begin nesting and will already be browsing things you would like to get for your baby – and buying expensive things for yourself will possibly seem selfish. The solution to this ‘tightness’ is to try and buy maternity clothing that is practical, fun and will make you feel good whilst not being at the higher-priced end of the market.
The second definition of tightness is bound to affect all women in pregnancy. It is almost impossible to know what size of clothing to buy because you cannot foresee how large your bump is likely to grow. The key to solving this problem is searching for clothing with a forgiving amount of flexibility to the fabric as well as checking to see if the fabric ‘bounces back’ after washing. Looking for reputable ‘tried and true’ maternity brands is also a good way to start so that you know that the clothing has lived up to maternity experiences.
NB: Asking the manufacturer about likely shrinkage after washing is also pretty important when buying hassle-free maternity clothing.
PROBLEM FOUR: Stretch
Not all stretch fabrics are created equal unfortunately.
Some fabrics have a single-way stretch and others are two-way-stretch. Most t-shirting, interlock and jersey fabrics have a moderate stretch (26% – 50% stretch) and stretchy knit fabrics including velour and terry fabrics can stretch up to 75%. Super-stretch fabrics are your best bet which is why lycra (up to 100% stretch!) may well become your best friend in the third trimester and also why leggings will always be a popular maternity staple!
(Fascinating Fact: Did you know that Modal – a cellulose fibre made from beech trees – has the comfort of cotton with the strength and stretch of lycra? AND it is resistant to shrinkage and pilling and bounces back into shape after washing at a low temperature…)
PROBLEM FIVE: Length and legs
I made the mistake of loving short dresses in my first pregnancy. I had been running regularly prior to getting pregnant and I didn’t mind showing off a bit-o-leg (at first!).
What I had not anticipated was that the combination of my big bump and the increased blood volume, water retention (etc.) made me less proud of my losing-shape-quickly legs and a little self-conscious of my riding-high-up-front little dresses.
Did you know that pregnant women have more fatty deposits due to the higher levels of estrogen and progesterone and they can have increased cellulite as a result? I didn’t know this before either.
The short dress maternity option is a cute one – but consider the length of your dress carefully.
PROBLEM SIX: ‘The belly breather’
Many women experience a slightly numb sensation around their belly button during pregnancy. This contributes greatly to the ‘belly breather’ problem because a lot of maternity tops ride up the bump – but the mum-to-be can’t feel it! I am definitely speaking from experience here.
The length of maternity tops is really important to prevent the belly from sneaking out for a ‘breather’. This problem is easily solved by selecting tops and tees with a longer length to accommodate the bump and the ride-up phenomenon.
PROBLEM SEVEN: Bras
Pregnancy changes your breast size almost immediately and is often one of the first tell-tale signs of knowing that you are pregnant. Should you rush out and buy new bras to accommodate your new perky nanas? Probably – but you should probably also think about what other bras you are going to need while you are there so that you can negotiate a bulk-buy deal or catch a savvy sale.
Buying nursing bras too early will mean that you don’t fill them sufficiently during maternity and that you spill out of them once you start nursing and your milk comes in.
Buying super-frilly-lacy-pretty nursing bras can also be a problem because the detail of the bras may irritate your nipples after nursing.
Talk to your lingerie professional so that you can buy bras that can fit you in maternity and consider practicality when looking for nursing bras.
Mistakes I made:
Non-padded nursing bras: These were fine except that my enlarged nipples could be seen easily protruding the fabric from miles away. They were also too thin to conceal breast pads and they gave away entirely too much information for my liking (although they were comfortable).
Cute/sexy nursing bras: Although I loved wearing these, they were not practical. They were more likely to irritate my skin and the lace details also ‘gave away’ the breast pads I needed to wear.
Recommendation: Buy plain (ish) t-shirt style bras with padding (removable if you want to have the option) and choose not-too-wide straps so that they don’t look like maternity bras from the straps alone when you want to wear with a singlet. Think also of the washing that you will need to be doing (I prefer a bra that can just ‘go in the wash’ that doesn’t need any special treatment…)
PROBLEM EIGHT: Necklines and nursing
When I wasn’t wearing an Outie tee, I loved wearing long singlets and maxi skirts or maxi dresses in my first pregnancy.
I bought several gorgeous maxi dresses and checked the bounce-back factor (see problem ‘stretch’ above) and was satisfied that I was making an informed purchase.
The necklines were all wrong. What this meant for me was that these dresses were pretty much useless when I was nursing my son post pregnancy. (I don’t imagine you would want to hitch your long dress right up to your boobs in public…?!) So these dresses were never worn post maternity and proved to be a ‘bad buy’.
When buying maternity tops/dresses looks for comfortable low necklines – v-necks, scoop necks or cross-over tops are good (or wider arm holes if you need to gain access from the side). Thinking about the practicalities of nursing post-pregnancy is really important if you want to avoid this problem.
PROBLEM NINE: Change (Corporate)
The final problem you can easily avoid is considering the after-life of the maternity clothing you want to buy. I made the mistake of buying corporate-styled maternity fashion that is now completely impractical for me as a WAHM with a toddler during pregnancy number 2.
In hindsight, my employers probably would have forgiven me for dressing down slightly due to my bump – and I could have saved a lot by just dressing nicely for comfort rather than for my job. This problem is entirely dependent on the strictness and expectations of your job but it is worth considering – is this too fancy to wear away from work? Does it look too ‘worky’ to wear out when off duty? Does it wash and wear well for my busy future mummy-life?
An additional aspect to consider is how you might change in terms of your sense of style post-maternity and how your body shape might change overall. It is an awesome thought to have a flat post-baby-belly but the realities can be a little more humbling…
The good news is that if you avoid these nine common problems you will definitely be on the right track to covering your bump without too many fashion-faux-pas.
The better news is that Outie Maternity tees solve 7 out of 9 of these problems simply because I experienced all of them myself.
The best news is that this gives Outie a 78% success rate in being a problem-free maternity fashion solution.
(Not floaty but fitted, long cut, wide cut across the hips, soft and forgiving anti-pill fabric, high stretch rate, cotton/modal blended fabric with cute belly bump prints for maternity.)
Nice one Outie.