Throughout my pregnancy I talked openly (and frequently) about my body. The way I feel about my pregnant body is a mixed bag. There were times that I felt like I looked great, but I have always received a lot of comments from people about how large my belly gets. My belly does get big, and early on. As early as July people were assuming I was “ready to pop” (I delivered October 15, for reference). While this doesn’t actually bother me too much, I find it extremely annoying.
Given that this was my third baby, I began to think ahead to how I was going to look postpartum, and how that would make me feel. I knew that at a time when I should be praising my body for growing and birthing and feeding a new life, I would struggle with adjusting to my new size and shape – as I had after my first 2 kids. It’s just hard to feel good about yourself, when you don’t feel good about yourself.
I was determined to do things differently this time around, but that required some planning ahead of time. I thought back to what made me feel really crappy about my body after my last two kids and then I focused on correcting those mistakes. For me it boiled down to ill-fitting clothes. I reached out to Amanda Hanson from simplySTYLISH for her thoughts on assembling what I started to call a “transitional wardrobe” and she had a lot to say on the subject:
Prep your wardrobe and mind before the baby comes
Come to terms with the idea that you may still have to wear maternity clothes for a time postpartum. You may never want to see them again, but they are better than going to the store in your pajama bottoms. Tuck away or get rid of items that didn’t fit pre-pregnancy, seeing those clothes every day is an opportunity for the inner critic to surface. You don’t need to give that voice any extra opportunity to appear. Invest in maternity wear that can serve you postpartum as well.
I bought several transitional maternity pieces from Adaela Quinn Boutique while I was pregnant that I knew would carry me through the postpartum phase (linked below). All of them are nursing friendly, and fit me just as well now as they did at 40+ weeks pregnant. These are pieces that I don’t consider “maternity”. They are well made, structured and will last me years. Can’t recommend them enough.
If you can’t stomach investing in maternity clothes, then get used to thrift shopping on a regular basis or asking friends for their old maternity clothes. I bought very little of my maternity clothes brand new other than maternity leggings (which are fantastic even post baby and worth the investment).
Start to build a capsule transition wardrobe
You deserve to have clothes that fit you post baby. These pieces should be able to last as your body continues to change and heal. Some things you should invest in or may already have in your wardrobe are layering pieces like cardigans, button up shirts or jackets, a pair of real pants, a handful of loose flowy tops, proper nursing gear (whether this be a functional and flattering nursing bra or a couple of nursing tanks that you can use underneath a layering piece), and one dress for when you need something a bit more put together.
Based on Amanda’s advice I knew I needed to beef up a couple of areas in my wardrobe. I had lots of fall appropriate layering pieces (cardigans and Costco lumberjack flannel shirts), but I knew I needed some high-waisted leggings and a good bra or two. I decided I could wear my maternity jeans for awhile if I needed “real” pants. What I wound up buying ahead of time has served me VERY well in the two weeks since I’ve had the baby.
Be patient with yourself and your body
Amanda is a big advocate for acknowledging that you deserve to feel good about yourself at any size. She often says, your worth is not defined by any number like your weight or size. Our bodies are constantly changing as we age, as we have kids, so be gentle with yourself as you acclimate to life with a newborn. Your body has done something amazing, so treat it with respect and admiration for what it has accomplished, and not for what you may feel are its failings.