What to wear after the bump

You have spent months dressing your bump, showing it off and basking in your pregnancy glow.   Now, I dearly hope you have your baby in your arms and are faced with a new set of sartorial challenges – how to dress your post-pregnancy body and, if breast feeding, how to make the milk bar accessible.

However, I know there will be those reading this that have given birth and are holding their precious child in their hearts rather than their arms.  When we lost Xavier to SIDS two weeks after giving birth, fashion was the last thing on my mind, but I did have to get dressed every morning.   I couldn’t bear to wear any of my maternity clothes, but my stomach had yet to reduce to its normal size.  I bought a couple of very cheap jeans at our local supermarket that also stocks clothes (Mix by Coles).  I couldn’t face clothes shopping, but I could just manage grabbing a few things with the groceries.  I also bought a few things online.  Even though I love shopping, the sight of racks and racks of clothes confused and saddened me.   My love of shopping has returned and I can still spot a bargain from a mile away.  The things you enjoy will come back, but it will take a little while.  In the mean time, do what you need to do to get through.

When pregnant your uterus expands to up to 500 times it’s usual size!  That’s a lot of growth and you do need to allow time for it to contract again.  Usually, this takes six weeks.  That’s just your uterus – it takes longer again of course to lose the baby weight itself.  So, no-one is walking out of the hospital in their pre-pregnancy skinny jeans and your maternity pants aren’t quite finished yet.   Those gorgeous dresses that showed of your burgeoning bump probably aren’t quite as flattering now that your baby is born and you have to learn a whole new way of dressing.

Here are my post-baby fashion tips:

  • Don’t be too hard on yourself or your body.  It has just achieved the most amazing feat of all.  You don’t need to subscribe to the celebrity trend of a concave stomach within three months.  They achieve that through countless hours in the gym.  Countless hours that they aren’t spending with their baby.
  • Particularly if your are a first time mother, you and baby are both learning and that’s not easy.  PJ days are inevitable.  So just invest in some lovely PJs that you feel comfortable answering the door in.   Lounge or light weight track pants with a maternity singlet or top are perfect. Intimo have some beautiful loungewear.  It’s not cheap, but it does last.
  • The tops you wore in early pregnancy that skimmed over your bump, rather than showing it off are perfect for this time.
  • Scarves are wonderful things.  Worn over nursing singlets they hide the post-baby bump.  They add colour to an outfit.  They make nursing singlets look less like underwear. They offer a modesty cover if you want it when breast-feeding.   They can double as spit-up cloths.  Maybe don’t wear your Hermes.
  • Babies spit-up.  Babies do number 3s.  My Baby is a master of the ninja wee.  Somehow I am wet, and he isn’t.  Basically, you are going to get dirty.  Keep your clothes practical and washable.   Darker colours and patterns are great at disguising spit-ups.   You know to keep a few changes of clothes for baby in your bag – keep a change of clothes for yourself also.
  • It is easy to become lost in your baby.  Taking a little time out to make yourself look and feel nice is okay.

And if you are breastfeeding:

  • You will either breastfeed by unbuttoning/unzipping/pulling down your top or lifting it up.   Lifting up your top is probably more modest in terms of revealing your breasts.   Most women probably don’t want to bear their tummy flesh when feeding, so a good option is to wear something light and flowy over the top of a nursing singlet.
  • I am completely un-coordinated with the lift-up method and Elijah normally gets caught up in material.  Ditto when I try to use a breast feeding cover.  I tend to do the pull down method.  This means I either wear low cut tops with a bit of stretch to them, or button/zip down tops.  In order to preserve some modesty, I will often pair a singlet with a jacket or cardigan which covers the boob when feeding.  Again, a scarf can be useful here.
  • I am fortunate to have a lot of milk.  This means a lot of leakage.  This means breast milk getting all over my tops.  One way to circumvent this is to invest in a few newborn bibs that will hopefully absorb the milk.
  • You will find that the first few times you breastfeed in public you are hyper-aware and thinking everyone is looking at you. They most probably aren’t.  The most important people in the breast feeding equation are you and your baby.  As my gorgeous, uninhibited, Brazilian friend once put it “I got enough to worry about – I don’t need to worry about what people around me think.”  However, if nursing in public does stress you out – it will also stress your baby out.  Invest in a light-weight nursing cover.
  • Your boobs are doing a lot of work.  Treat them kindly and ensure you wear supportive bras.   Bonds do a great line.
  • As in pregnancy, don’t change your style completely – you will never get out of the house for lack of things to wear.  I don’t normally wear button-down collared tops and trying to adopt them for breast feeding just doesn’t work for me.
  • Just as I advised during pregnancy, put away the things that don’t fit or work for this time in your life.  It will make getting ready so much easier!
  • You probably feel like you will never get back to your usual wardrobe again.  Keep in mind that the period of time when a baby feeds every 3 – 4 hours is limited.  Even if you intend to breastfeed past 6 months, there comes a time when babies just feed in the morning and evening.  Your wardrobe will open up again then.

My nursing kit

  • Wrap dresses – perfect for feeding.
  • 5 nursing singlets in black, white and nude.  Bonds do great ones.  Kmart and Target also do and they are a bit cheaper.
  • Jackets, capelets and/or cardigans.
  • Comfy pants (maternity or elasticated).  Elasticated harem pants are great if you don’t mind getting your hippy on.  Try Tree of life.
  • Loose, flow-y tops.
  • Zip-down tops
  • Stretchy, low cut tops

image1xl Love this  top from ASOS  (click to go to)

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Some of my nursing essentials

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What to wear when you are expecting

I don’t want this blog to be completely earnest and lacking in any frivolity, so today I thought I’d write about maternity fashion. I thought I’d also like to wrote a post that didn’t result in tears.

Pregnancy offers up a unique set of sartorial challenges – from the early stages when your belly looks more “big lunch” than “big news” to the last few weeks when nothing fits but buying anything new seems pointless.

I won’t pretend to be the most stylish lady in the room – I leave that honour to my friends and gorgeous sister in laws. But I do love clothes and after being pregnant for the better half of two years, I think I started to get it right. I adored my pregnancy with Elijah. Whilst it was beset with anxiety I also recognised it as my last pregnancy and wanted to enjoy every bit – including dressing bump. This has now evolved into being excited about dressing Elijah each morning and frustration over breast-feeding fashion. But that’s for another post!

Here are my tips:

  • Invest early in maternity pants that will see you through the pregnancy (and beyond). You can get away with non-maternity tops, but you need comfy bottoms. In early pregnancy, you can use a belly band to keep them up if they are on the big side. ASOS maternity offers some great options and seems to be the only place on earth where their maternity wear is actually cheaper than the standard gear. Their sizing in maternity is generous around the belly but weirdly tight around the arms and legs. Maybe UK ladies don’t get water retention!
  • Accessories are your best friend – keep them bright and funky. Wear those statement earrings – their days are numbered!
  • Black is definitely a great and easy option, but if you do wear all black, add a pop of colour with some jewellery, scarf or jacket. This is a joyous time after all and colour will lift your mood.
  • Jersey wrap dresses (they needn’t be maternity) are perfect for the office with a growing bump and will also work for breastfeeding afterwards. Leona Edmiston has some beautiful options and for a less expensive option, Ezibuy generally has a few wrap dresses amongst their collections.
  • Show off what remains slender. Whilst my arms lost tone, my legs remained relatively slim – so I favoured tights and loose tops.
  • In the early weeks when it’s not obvious you are pregnant, opt for tops that skim over your belly rather than show it off. These will also be useful in the months after having baby.
  • Go through your wardrobe every couple of weeks and put away what ever no longer fits. It will make getting ready so much easier. When you do this, keep your buttoned down shirts, looser blouses and other tops you can breast feed in, in a different pile so you can get to it easily after bub is born.
  • Invest in a few long singlets for layering. As your belly grows, tops that used to work over tights will start to ride up. I am a card carrying member of the “tights are not pants” club and believe that bottoms should be covered. Having very long singlets allowed me to wear them underneath my existing long tops and still wear those comfy tights with dignity.  Glassons has singlet options at good prices. Lower cut tops will have the added advantage of showing off your new cleavage and offering some more options if you breastfeed.
  • Use belts under the bust to accentuate your bump. Your normal belts may no longer fit, so raid your partners. You might want to grab one of his white shirts while you are it – also great for a growing belly.
  • Don’t spend too much on “bump” dresses. They are certainly gorgeous, but they are a late pregnancy only item. Don’t fall into thinking you will wear them after baby. You probably won’t.
  • You may get thoroughly, thoroughly sick of the clothes you wear during pregnancy and never want to see them again once baby is born. Don’t break the bank!
  • Don’t change your style completely when pregnant – you will feel uncomfortable. It’s better to adapt your usual look to something that works with pregnancy.
  • To avoid tears and stress in the morning (at least as they relate to what to wear), plan outfits in advance.
  • On those days when you are just over it, take a moment, breath, connect with your baby and think of all the cute outfits you will be dressing them in soon.

My essential kit (I was pregnant during winter)

  • Jersey dresses (particularly if you are working)
  • 2 pairs maternity jeans
  • 2 – 3 pair tights (leggings)
  • 1 pair black trousers
  • 3 long singlets
  • Tight dresses to show off your bump
  • Belly band
  • Long tops with space for belly
  • Jackets and vests
  • 2 pairs of go with anything flats. Weirdly, very neutral and very out-there tones seem to work back with most things. I absolutely flogged a pair of gold glittery ballet flats.
  • I think it’s nice to buy a new pair of PJs for going into hospital

Here are a few of my favourite looks from pregnancy (I was a bit obsessive about recording the bump for posterity and I apologise for the bedroom mess)

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Right now I am struggling with a new sartorial challenge – what to wear breast feeding. More on that later!