The Cost of Things: Pregnancy

I used to read the website Mighty Girl frequently both for the blog and the cool-yet-affordable products on the gift guides. Mostly I only ogled them, but window shopping is half the fun.

Today I happened over there for the first time in a while and I saw that, in addition to a Valentine’s Day gift guide and lingerie round-up that will serve the (sexy) Berts among us who can think about such things before it’s even February, there was a useful post called “Maternity Wardrobe Links and Tips.

Now this I could have used. People don’t really tell you how to spend money on yourself once you get pregnant. I had no sense of what to buy, only an assumption that someone would strap a pillow to my belly at some point and then drape dresses over it. In Brooklyn, those dresses are stylish and cute but cost around $100 each, so I put off buying them for as long as possible and instead got larger-than-usual or extra roomy clothes for myself at thrift stores. In consequence, I looked frumpy and felt less than great about myself.

I did have good luck with the belly bands, though. I got two, which allowed me to keep wearing my old jeans for several months. Considering how expensive maternity pants were, that was a gift. When it was time for official maternity pants, I went to a secondhand/consignment maternity store, a place I liked so much I returned to it twice more before my due date. I also trolled neighborhood listservs for other people’s cast offs, though with more mixed results.

Here are some of Maggie’s suggestions for avoiding pitfalls without spending yourself into exhaustion:

Buy maternity clothes from the get go, do not wait until you can’t get your regular jeans up around your thighs. They’re crazy comfortable, and clothes that stretch make you feel healthy and pregnant as your body grows instead of just feeling fat and bummed. Also, my first pregnancy I thought I could just buy bigger clothes, and my sister said, “Your body is going to get weird. You’ll have to get maternity stuff in the third trimester, so just be comfortable all along.” She was right.

Go for the full-belly panel on your pants. Those low elastic waistbands look good, but the last trimester when they start feeling really tight just as you don’t want anything touching your body. Also, your shirt rides up to reveal your naked belly, which is very vulnerable and yucky. Finally, when the baby gets big enough to have an opinion, they will vote by kicking you hard until you buy new pants that don’t smush them. Sorry, baby. …

Maternity Wardrobe Starters for Warmer Climates A quick list of maternity basics. This will vary by lifestyle and season, but it’s a great base that lets you purchase a few necessary pieces as you realize you need them. • Knit dresses in neutral colors (2) — High-quality thick jersey that doesn’t thin out too much as it stretches, preferably with hemlines that fall below the knee. That hemline will pull up as your belly grows and lots of ladies get temporary cellulite down to the knee before they give birth. • Maternity tights in neutrals that work with your dresses (2) • Maternity leggings or sweats (2) • Camis with shelf bras (2) — These will transition you to a new bra size, and the support will help you sleep. • A sundress that works for nursing to be worn as a nightgown — Maternity sleepwear is stupid expensive and it’s usually not as good quality as just buying an Old Navy sundress or equivalent. • T-Shirts (2 short sleeved, 2 long) • Undies a size or two up (6 pairs) • A Hoodie — H&M has lots of long ones right now that aren’t a million dollars. Maternity hoodies can be laughably pricey. • A Sweater — Bonus if it’s a cardigan because you can wear it multiple ways. • A coat or cloak • A pair of flats

Anything maternity-oriented that doubles as nursing wear — including bras — is particularly useful, since it will take a while before your body bounces back, and you’ll find yourself continuing to wear your maternity clothes for at least a couple of months.

Also, though I appreciate Maggie’s recommendation of neutrals, I decided to go with brighter colors while I was pregnant. I knew my natural “don’t look at me!” inclination when it comes to clothing be exacerbated by the bump, and I didn’t want to fall prey to that kind of anxiety and self-consciousness. People were going to look at me, whether I liked it or not; wearing summer-y blues and coral pants and the like at least made me feel a bit more in control. I even, once, went so far as to wear a pattern. When I look back at the pictures, my instinct is to wince — why weren’t you minimizing? says the voice in my head — but I’m proud of myself all the same for at least acting like I didn’t care.

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