Taking back control of your postpartum life
Our guide on what to wear post-pregnancy to help you find your new confidence in motherhood
“Dressing for pregnancy was such a piece of cake. But dressing in postpartum, what the f**k do you do? The week that I came home from the hospital – that was nothing but sweats and hoodies. But the weeks after that, you don’t know what to put on. Everything is too small or too big.” Rihanna, in VOGUEWhen Rihanna expressed her frustrations in Vogue, millions of women around the world were nodding their heads in agreement.
It seems unbelievable that this global superstar, and fashion icon, was subjected to the same post-pregnancy motherhood style woes we mere mortals regularly experience, whether it’s your first (or more) pregnancy here lies the core of the issue…
We expect dressing our bumps to be a crazy new style adventure, but the challenges posed by what to wear in the weeks after giving birth catch many by surprise…we walk into the Fourth Trimester thinking ‘Resume life as before…right?’
Navigating the postpartum rollercoaster is a journey of ups and downs - we’ve been there in the trenches. So the CARI team of style-loving mothers is sharing our advice and practical steps to help you embrace your new motherhood confidence and style for what is such an exciting chapter in life.
Expectations Vs Reality
No longer pregnant…but the reality is that even after delivery, you’ll still look 25 weeks pregnant for a while – along with scars, tears, stitches, leaky boobs, lumpy bumpy bits, and a new baby attached to your boob. No one needs to tell you that your body has done an amazing thing, we all appreciate and celebrate that. But, to be faced with the maternity jeans and leggings you were planning on throwing out now as your only post-baby outfit options, because nothing from your wardrobe fits, can feel like an affront and hugely frustrating.
It’s so common to fall into the trap of not buying anything new and just trying to ‘make’ yourself fit into the things you already have. Using the excuse of ‘losing the baby weight’ along with not wanting to spend money on something that would only fit for a short time, just makes you feel worse.
The solution: Clear out your wardrobe. Put what doesn’t work away and out of sight. It doesn’t mean you’re not going to lose the weight. If your maternity jeans are all that fits, but you hate wearing them, then clear them out too. You will survive. This is a new stage in life that requires a new approach to dressing - you need to put together a post-partum wardrobe.
Acknowledge the physical demands!
Postpartum dressing translates as the necessity for fast access to your boobs - often 10 times a day. It’s a juggling act, even when you’re in the comfort of your own home, never mind when you’re out and about (park bench, in the car, doctors office, cafe)
Any item of clothing that doesn’t deliver this convenience is redundant - even if you are pumping. When you layer on the requirement for coverage, because you likely don’t want to expose anything at this stage, you realise the limitations of your current wardrobe (those items that do fit).
Start small: first get the basics, nursing bras and a few breastfeeding friendly tops and dresses, which are often loose-fitting designs that are flattering at this stage - especially in summer, or after a c-section, you may not find leggings that comfortable. Then choose one outfit at a time as you feel your way through the transition.
New mum lifestyle, new mum wardrobe
New motherhood is a dramatic lifestyle change, and one which we are thrown into. Breastfeeding, sleep deprivation that can have you feeling like a zombie, and then there is the daily demands of early motherhood.
Those weeks evolve into the new-mum buggy lifestyle of daily walks, coffee meet-ups, medical appointments, messy throw-ups, nappy explosions and so on. It’s likely your pre-baby lifestyle revolved around the office and social weekend activities, so no surprise if you’ve nothing suitable to wear.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t come presented as a fabulous make-over opportunity because, well see above, and then there’s navigating a pram around a clothes shop…
Take a feet-first approach: Footwear will dictate a lot of your outfits. Even the most committed stiletto-lovers will recognise that all the walking and dashing about is more comfortable in trainers, flats or low-heeled boots. Make footwear your starting point and it’s easier to work out your new mum style from there.
Call for help
Ask a good friend who’s a more experienced mother and whose style you love for help: Organise a shopping trip and lunch out. She’ll likely have the right balance of practical advice but with the benefit of hindsight to guide and encourage you in your choices.
Only buy what you love: Don’t fall into the trap of being so desperate for practical clothes that you end up in leggings and a lumberjack shirt not recognising yourself. You may end up breastfeeding for a year, and this is also a time in life when you make a lot of important new friendships so it’s important to feel like yourself.
You deserve to look and feel fabulous but unfortunately, you’re unlikely to find it in a wardrobe full of old clothes that don’t fit. If this is you, we see you. We’ve been there, try not to be so hard on yourself.
Second time around…
Rihanna’s words really resonated with me as I still remember how I felt post-pregnancy: As besotted as I was with my beautiful newborn, there aren’t that many pictures of me amongst the thousands of him, and the few there are, I’m shying away from the camera because I felt a self-conscious mess.
Second time around with my daughter, I was definitely more prepared, I’d planned the ‘go-to’ outfits with the right functionality that would carry me through those first few weeks of breastfeeding and chaos. And of course, I already had the small capsule wardrobe from the first time to build on.
That’s when I first started thinking about postpartum fashion and how I could create a brand that was all about empowering women to have the confidence to make their own unique choices at every stage of their motherhood journey. Because when we look and feel good, we step into this crazy new world with a lot more confidence.
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Until next time…