I like clothes. I like shopping for clothes. Heck, you don’t end up in my line of work otherwise. What I don’t like, however, is shopping for clothes that will be used so often due to lack of options over a short, intense period(s) of time that I will hate the very sight of them, only to have that followed by their gathering dust in the back of my closet for the rest of their lives because their single purpose for existing is done. That problem, combined with Rauma’s relative sparsity (read: NONE) of maternity boutiques, led me to find other options for clothing that were more reasonable and affordable. (And that would leave me with much more cash for updating my wardrobe once I can start thinking about wearing normal clothing again.) This means that in the course of the past nine months of my pregnancy, I have only bought five items that could legitimately be called “maternity-related”. I’m kinda proud of that.
1. The Belly Belt kit. I used this through all of the first and most of the second trimester to fit into my normal jeans, trousers and skirts. While a sturdy hair elastic through the buttonhole will do in a pinch, this is much more comfortable and secure. Plus, it comes with a hook-and-eye attachment option for your office wear. The belts are elastic with multiple buttons and can accommodate a fairly wide range of sizes as you grow. The three different colored fabric attachments help cover up your belly gap once you get to the larger sizes 🙂
2. Bra Strap Extenders in multiple colors. Because your belly isn’t the only thing expanding. If you’ve invested in quality lingerie that fits properly like yours truly, you know what a pain in the rear it is to consider replacing it. So don’t bother. Plus, if you have genetics like mine (hi, flat Asian chest), you won’t get to keep those extra cup sizes for that long anyway. Note that I am not mentioning anything about nursing bras in this post, since they fall under the post-maternity wardrobe spending category.
3. Now we get to the real clothing items. I bought two pairs of these belly panel H&M slim jeans in different washes at the beginning of 2nd trimester. They are just plain awesome. I’m still wearing them now, at 37 weeks, and they are ridiculously comfortable. Really, I’ll probably continue wearing them for months after this, as long as they’ll fit me. I don’t know if I ever want to go back to buttoning my jeans again, now that I know how much easier life is when you can just pull them on like a pair of sweats and still have the illusion of wearing button-up low-rise jeans. I probably would have bought more than two pairs if we had an H&M in town. Heck, I still might. This is possibly the single case where maternity clothing totally beats the normal version.
4. I’m counting this cabled sweater dress because I found it in the H&M maternity section, though you can see that it will easily work outside of pregnancy as well. Loose, stretchy knit and all. Maybe this should only be considered half an item, but I’m trying to play fair here. It’s totally reusable, at any rate, so I didn’t feel bad about buying it at all.
5. If the last entry was counted as half, I guess I should count these as 1.5, since they are basically two takes on the same item. The white one is a Cantaloop support belt and the black one is the Anita maternity belt.
The Cantaloop is seamless and stretchy, but still provides more support than a standard knit band would. It reminds me of the athletic supports I would use for my wrist and ankles when I played sports in university. I used it through the first half of third trimester, when the belly was getting heavy enough that I appreciated extra support when wearing dresses or skirts. The jeans were still providing decent support on their own.
I started using the Anita a couple of weeks ago, when the baby dropped and I started really waddling from the added weight. This kid is definitely more than 3kg now and I can feel it with every step. The Anita belt is more heavy duty, kinda like the things that warehouse workers wear for lifting crates. It’s also a bit bulkier with a sturdy Velcro fastening, but at this point comfort trumps just about anything else. I don’t find it difficult to sit in it, as some reviews say, so I’m thinking it might just have to do with what angle you have the belt sitting across your lower back. It really is like having an extra pair of hands helping with the weight. This was the one item that my mother insisted that I get early on, and I totally understand why now. It’s the most specialized piece on this list, and also the best investment in comfort I’ve made so far.
As for everything else, I was pretty much able to rely on my rather large collection of knit and empire-waist dresses for the entire time, supplemented with various stretchy tops, t-shirts and sweaters. I might have also borrowed a few of the hubby’s hoodies for lounging about. There was some worry about making it through the coldest months without having to buy a new coat, but luckily we had a mild winter and I was able to use the two higher-waisted wool coats I own. I would have probably just layered extra sweaters under the coats and more scarves on top, if the need really arose.
Now, with any luck, I’ll be able to start browsing the online sales in another few months without having to feel depressed about not fitting into anything…
Edited 4/6/2015: Links to most of these items now at the VK Store!