Sisterhood of the Traveling Maternity Clothes

When I was pregnant with my first baby, I shopped everywhere for maternity clothes! I needed work clothes and lounge clothes but also gym outfits and party dresses. Talk about investing in a whole separate wardrobe. Yet, it seemed that everywhere I looked the price tag for these items made my jaw drop.

You want how much for that pair of maternity leggings? And that sweater is actually worth more than $8? I couldn’t believe it! It’s like these stores didn’t understand that in nine months, my child would do a good enough job of draining my bank account that I didnt need their help. But what was I to do?

For starters, I began buying things from the women’s sections I shopped in before, just in a size up from my pre-pregnancy size. This worked wonders for sleep gowns, tank tops and some work blouses. The problem was that I had to keep doing this every few weeks because I was packing the pounds quickly, and most of these clothes were made of material that didn’t stretch. But when I realized that my belly was growing faster than my wallet, I stopped shopping altogether and wore scrubs to work, whenever I had a pair that wasn’t dirty. It was allowed because I worked at a medical device company, but I still felt awkward having an office desk job where I didn’t show up to work in slacks and heels like before. The shame disappeared around the time my feet did, though, and I pushed the limit (on both office dress code and that elastic band on my pants).

During this pregnancy, I was thinking I would get lucky. ‘Good job saving your maternity clothes from last time!’, I told myself. But when I went to dig it all out, I found that even though I was clearly pregnant, they didn’t fit me. I had only gained about 6 lbs. when last time by this point I had gained about 24 lbs. This pregnancy was different in many ways and my body was different, too, so I would be waiting a few more months before getting to reuse my old stuff. Disappointed, I reluctantly squeezed myself into whatever I could pass protocol at work, and stole my husband’s Star Wars shirts for bed. Around the time that I had to wear yoga pants to church though, one of my friends offered to let me borrow some of her maternity clothes.

Yes, please and thank you! I hugged her and eagerly took the bag of clothes she had kindly set aside for me.

‘You know, if you need more, I can go into my closet and drawers and get more stuff together’, she offered. I was not going to turn down an opportunity to save upwards of $300 in clothes that I might not use again. Baby number two might be my last. She, on the other hand, just had baby number four and was happy to admit that after her second child she realized investing in quality maternity clothes was going to be a must for comfort and for life in general, if she spent a lot of time being pregnant.

What a blessing! Not only did this woman shovel over more of her clothes to my house, but when I was talking to my other friend about this awesome gesture, she also volunteered some of her maternity clothes to my ‘hey-lady, are-you homeless-or-do-you-just-not-care’ cause. Her pile had more summer options and a few dresses; now I didn’t just have clothes to wear to work and around the house but also some cute sweater dresses and short sleeve shirts to show off at family events or weekend outings (no one has to know my outings only consist of the grocery store and dog park).

Why then, I wonder, don’t more women do this? I’m not suggesting we all just wait for our friends to stop being pregnant so we can rummage their home for leftover clothes, and I understand that some people are not the same sizes as their friends, but it’s a great idea to share when possible. I was so grateful for my friends and their generosity, because it didn’t just give me more confidence at work to finally be able to wear pants that I didn’t have to hold up with hair ties or shirts that barely stretched over my belly. It also relieved some of my stress to not have to add clothes to my already long list of things I need to buy before my baby is born: new windows for the house, lamps, baby monitor (the one from our first child conveniently broke last week), dog food, boxes and boxes of diapers, baby bedding, and everything else that will magically need to be replaced in the weeks prior to his birth.

Even though my girlfriends are taller than me and have varying tastes and carried different sized bellies during their pregnancies, I was still able to take advantage of their donations. Fortunately, pregnancies have their own range of stages and I’ve been able to use almost everything I’ve gotten so far. Plus, tank tops-and anything stretch, really-are lifesavers.

I don’t know what I would have done if I had been pushed to purchase an entire set of new clothes just to look ‘appropriate’ at a law firm during this pregnancy, but I can assure you that I bet everyone is thankful that I stopped wearing hoodies as tops and finally felt encouraged to straighten my hair and throw on a touch of blush-time I would have otherwise spent furiously searching my closet for things that fit me every morning. It gives me a sense of freedom that I never thought I’d find in another woman’s maternity clothes, and I encourage more people to consider this system for saving (or helping someone else save) during a period in life when money is probably already scarce or being reserved for baby’s needs.