During my first pregnancy, I was lucky; I only started needing to adapt items of clothing from around the five month stage. Being very conservative with money, coupled with the fact that I still wanted to look good throughout pregnancy, I had a task on my hands. I soon realised that the weight increase and ballooning stomach that comes with pregnancy was merely an opportunity to update my looks, and by that, I don’t mean foraging through my husband’s clothes and donning his jumpers and shirts the whole time.
When my clothes first started to feel tight, I didn’t immediately rush out to buy a whole new wardrobe. When wearing jeans and trousers, I used a pregnancy belt, which allowed me to keep wearing them despite the fact that I could no longer do up their buttons! This meant that I didn’t have to always wear long tops, since the belt just looked like a vest top underneath another top. This layering effect looked quite neat, in fact.
Furthermore, I had enough looser tops and tunics from my current wardrobe to keep me going for a while, whilst still allowing me to keep in style. One thing I did find it worthwhile to purchase quite early on, however, was lingerie. After the extenders I purchased were no longer adequate, I decided to look at the maternity ranges. I soon became frustrated when I found that most maternity lines were highly unflattering, so instead of using my pregnancy as an excuse to adopt the granny-style, I measured myself at various stages and bought from regular ranges, which gave me a much better range of choice.
When everything started expanding more rapidly and the number of items of clothing I had to choose from started to deplete further, I borrowed some maternity clothes from my sister-in-law. No doubt, most of us have access to clothes from previously pregnant friends and family members. As long as the clothes were in good condition and would keep me looking good for what was a relatively short period of time (although it may not feel like that at times!), I thought that there was no harm in borrowing them. In fact, it made sense to me to make use of clothes that were just being kept in someone else’s suitcase in the spare room, rather than a) spending a lot of my husband’s hard-earned money and b) having to find a long term storage solution for an alternative wardrobe.
As time went on, I started to become bored of wearing the ever-dwindling supply of clothes that still fit, rotating the various tops, tunics or dresses I had with the same two pairs of maternity jeans. I also realised that my husband, although he didn’t say anything, was probably feeling like he was seeing the same clothes all too often. It was at this stage, when around six or seven months pregnant, that I decided to invest in a few good quality items that I knew I could wear long term, both in future pregnancies, and also during the period of weight loss following them.
I stuck mainly to flattering styles such as the empire style, where the material could flow freely under the bust line and over the stomach and hips. Clothes in this particular style not only made my bump appear smaller, but were also very comfortable. Instead of getting tracksuit bottoms, which was indeed quite tempting towards the end, I opted for leggings, which were not only more tasteful, but could also be mixed and matched with a variety of clothes, and were readily available from most stores in a range of colours. I didn’t limit myself to maternity lines either, which were often over-stocked with huge flowing tops that engulfed me in material. Instead, I also acquired some items from normal ranges, just in larger sizes. In many ways, I found shopping in this manner much easier, since maternity sizes varied hugely from store to store and half the time I ended up returning the items since they had strange proportions. Shops such as New Look, ASOS and H&M often had sales on, so it wasn’t too difficult to find stylish items on offer. Tops with ruched sides and tie backs were handy since they gave me room to expand throughout the second and third trimesters without needing to buy more clothes. Many maxi dresses were also flattering and served me well, especially when heartburn was only increased by tighter fitting clothes.
One thing that I also had to remind myself of was to accessorise. Despite the shape of my body changing and no longer being able to wear many of my old clothes, I could still accessorise to my heart’s content and look good doing it! In fact, making a concerted effort to wear jewellery and scarves actually lifted my mood, especially towards the end when I often felt like a big whale. Not giving up on wearing make-up, despite often feeling that my bags were too dark to even bother trying to cover, also aided my self-esteem.
The fruits of my efforts really struck home on one occasion, when I successfully managed to fight my urge to remain in my pyjamas all day. Despite being tired and much preferring to take a nap instead, I decided to dress up on my husband’s return from work, having become more motivated after listening to a lecture on marriage and the rewards of pleasing one’s husband. And what better response to boost your mood than your husband commenting “Who said you can’t look good while you’re pregnant?!”
Ummu ‘Abdir-Rahmaan is a freelance writer based in the UK. She hopes to give inspiration and encouragement to her sisters in Islam through writing about her personal experiences.