To celebrate pregnancy number two, I recently decided to hit the mall to treat myself to some new maternity wear. And what a treat it was. I quickly realized that I had made a mistake in ever thinking I could look as cool as the pregnant ladies I had pinned on my “Maternity Fashion” board, and upon returning home, I promptly deleted every look I had once coveted and renamed the board “Maternity Yoga Pants”. I then thought about the reasons why I find shopping for maternity clothing to be my second favourite pregnancy activity after the act of giving birth itself.
1. The Selection
I decided to try three different stores that weren’t specifically dedicated to maternity wear, but do carry 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 discovered that they no longer sell maternity wear in-store. This was wonderful news, 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. I waddled on to choice number two, where I was delighted to find that there were approximately 12 pieces of clothing to choose from, before moving onto store number three. What I loved most about this 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 that I knew I was destined for a magical experience from the moment I arrived. Needless to say, I left all three shops empty-handed.
2. The Price
Here’s the thing about pregnant ladies. Unfortunately, society requires us to continue to wear clothes, especially if we wish to participate in any activities outside of our homes. For 9 months, our bodies are constantly changing, meaning we have to keep buying new stuff to cover ourselves up. We can’t always 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, or that we will be pregnant in the same season. For this reason, I have a hard time dropping $80 on a pair of pants with an elastic waistband.
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.
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 expecting 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
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.
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.
1. My first and favourite option is to lend your maternity wardrobe to friends in need and ask them to do the same.
2. Another option is to scour sites like Craigslist, Kijiji, and Mom’s Groups on Facebook or other social media websites for pre-loved clothes. This is also a great place to look for secondhand kids’ clothes!
3. Look for consignment or secondhand maternity stores. They have 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. My husband’s T-Shirts are a staple item in my weekend wardrobe.
5. 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 have outlet stores, so don’t forget to check!
7. Join a nudist colony where you don’t have to worry about any of this shizz.
Good luck, mama-to-be!