One of the best things about retuning to work was the commute: leaving the house and getting on a bus without a baby felt so refreshing. No need for special seats or any assistance, just me, myself and I, merging in with the other early morning commuters felt so empowering. To be seen as a woman again and not as a mother. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I was in the early stage of this pregnancy, I was still carrying some of my baby weight from baby A but I was able to dress almost like I did pre-babies with little or no sign of the bump.
I love dressing up. I love clothes. I think style is a really important part of who we are, conscientiously or sub-conscientiously how we present ourselves reflects how we feel and how we want to be perceived. For as long as I can remember and certainly since I’ve been working, I’ve spent most of my monies on clothes, bags, shoes and accessories (obviously this is also the reason I’m struggling to buy a house now – learn from me and save!!!). And although so many people will tell you how “radiant” and “beautiful” women look when pregnant, most of the time I feel anything but. I start to put on weight early and by week 16 my bump is clearly visible. As I’ve had two back-to-back pregnancies, I’m still living in my maternity jeans, in truth I may never go back to pants with non-elasticised waistbands (so comfortable!) but I’ve learnt a few things on styling the bump, at least for my body shape.
I spent a pretty penny buying maternity wear the first time round so this time I’ve decided not to buy a single thing. The styles tend to be quite limited and maternity wear, like any niche, is also expensive, and as I’m hoping to buy a house soon I don’t have the additional income to spare. I am however blessed with a LOT of clothes, so sorting through my wardrobe this week, I’ve put aside the stuff I want to make use of for the next 4 months. I also spent a few hours online browsing ‘pregnancy style’ and ‘pregnant celebrities’ for inspiration before I came to the inevitable conclusion that they: tall, rich, and mostly white women, didn’t represent me: short, brown and Muslim and my choices/lifestyle. In fact its really important to keep in mind that our bodies go through huge changes during pregnancy, and for the vast majority of us, our careers don’t dictate how we look and how much time we have to get back into a particular size. It’s really not healthy to rush your body, so its best to work with what you have and enjoy/learn from the process, however frustrating it might feel.
Some of the things I’ve noticed for my body shape (which btw has changed in both pregnancies!!) are that long and flow-y dresses are not the best option. I’m 5”3 and before falling pregnant my weight was around 7.5 stones and I never had big boobs or an arse that I had to consider when dressing. I loved spending summers in oversized tops and bottoms and maxi dresses, because when you’re slim loose fitted clothes are still flattering. This has not been the case in pregnancy. In my first pregnancy I put on weight everywhere. My thighs were touching by the second trimester, my arms had dimples and I’d lost my ankles early in the third. I was just a blob. My instinct was to cover it up, however that resulted in me looking like a living tent, not very attractive or flattering from any angle. This time, I’ve put on less weight and tend to wear form-fitting clothes either on the top or the bottom. As its summer here in London that mainly means maxi skirts, linen pants, maternity jeans with a fitted t-shirt or loose blouses, shirts, over sized t-shirts and pairing them with skinny / straight-leg jeans. I haven’t resorted to leggings, which, although I hate, are a pregnant girls best friend! I practically lived in leggings and t-shirts in my third trimester with baby A and then for about 4 months post-partum, I had to give myself a metaphorical shake to get out of the legging rut! (They’re so freaking comfortable, and attempting to be stylish is anything but J)
Being pregnant in the summer is also little fun. The additional blood in your body raises your temperature so pregnant women are more likely to suffer from heat intolerance and dehydration. As well as drinking plenty of fluids (so even more loo breaks) I’d strongly advise wearing breathable fabrics so you sweat less which will hopefully prevent you developing heat rash on your abdomen and under your breasts, which are common in pregnant women. If you’re looking at buying maternity wear, I strongly advise buying fewer pieces in good quality fabrics i.e. cotton and linen.
Being pregnant is hard work. Adjusting to the changes to your body and life in a relatively short space of time can be quite daunting, as well as exciting but it is one of those rare experiences you’ll treasure for the rest of you’re life and look back at in the years that follow with incredible fondness. And hopefully, 20 years down the line, you’ll see that beautiful radiant women that everyone else did at the time.