Post-Pregnancy Dressing Is A Total Nightmare
By Nell Frizzell Posted on 14 Nov 2018
I’d always thought ‘mumsy’ was just a synonym for ‘frumpy’. You know the sort of thing: flat boots, dungarees, big shirts, leggings, elasticated waists and of course, towering above all, cardigans. And yet, just two weeks after pushing out a small but healthily-formed baby boy, one of our very very first outings as ‘a family’ found me standing in a shop, while my partner bounced the baby in a sling, grabbing handfuls of cardigans like a squirrel with nuts. I’d already had to call my own mother asking for an emergency drop of her cardigans. I mean, shit doesn’t get more mumsy than wearing your own sixtysomething mother’s cardigans. But here’s the thing: when you need to be able to whip out your nipples in less than three seconds, a cardigan is a bloody good idea. When your breasts are so milk-heavy that they look like breezeblocks, a cardigan is a pretty attractive choice. When you’re still getting to grips with breastfeeding - so need to be able to see what’s happening in that classic nose-to-nipple situation, and the last thing you need is four folds of jumper pushing your baby’s face out of view - of course, you reach for a cardigan. Cardigans are, indeed, mumsy as hell. But as I came to realise, ‘mumsy’ isn’t just a by-word for dowdy, sloppy or dull: mumsy clothes need to be practical, absorbent, occasionally mood-enhancing, comfortable, pretty much bullet proof, and can be intrinsic to keeping a small helpless person alive.
This week, the author of Happy Mum, Happy Baby, Giovanna Fletcher took to Instagram to point out the gaping gap in the clothing market I shall call post-maternity clothing. She was, as she put it, in the ‘post-pregnancy stage where my clothes usually make me feel poo… nothing fits. My maternity wear makes me look pregnant still and my ‘normal’ clothes either don’t do up or create all sorts of interesting lumps and bumps.’
I remember it well. In 24 hours my body went through the sort of transformation that usually earns somebody the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. My breasts easily tripled in size, my stomach started to deflate like an old airbed and some unspeakable things happened to my bumhole, all of which made the very idea of t-shirt and jeans not laughable but painful. For the first week or two it was fine to slide around in a dressing gown, doing skin-to-skin with my baby but by week 10, which was when Fletcher made her post, you really might need to pop out to the shops to buy some bread.
I breastfed my baby. Still do, in fact, so ready access to my tits has been pretty much top priority for a year now. I haven’t worn a dress during the day since 2017. Nor a jumpsuit - and I am the woman who at last count owned 27 handmade jumpsuits. You simply cannot wear something that doesn’t lift up or undo at the front when you are expected to feed a baby up to six times a day. So buy a dress that buttons down the front, I hear you ask. If only, pals. How dearly I would love for all shops to introduce a ‘post-maternity’ section where you can browse quickly, easily, and probably while pushing a pram, all the tops, dresses and jumpsuits that you can fumble a knocker out of on public transport.
In that dream section I would also include: trousers (not leggings) that have soft waistbands - whether you’ve had a C-section or a vaginal birth, you really don’t want to be putting hard, tight, unyielding surfaces around your middle; trousers that can stretch without giving you sad saggy knee hills - as you are going to spend an inordinate portion of the next three years on the floor; tops with a cross over front - a much more elegant way to get your norks out than heaving them up and over a V-neck like sandbags out of a basement; jumpers with secret antibacterial, absorbent shoulder pads for the great mass of fluids you will be subjected to on a daily basis; bras that you would actually willingly show to an entire train carriage - because, in my case at least, you definitely will do this anyway, so it might as well look nice; clothes that can adjust as your body changes shape because when you’re living on maternity allowance you really can’t afford to buy new clothes, let alone have the time to browse for them; and finally, a capsule collection of soft, comfortable, hard-wearing but still somehow glamorous clothes you can wear on those days when all you want is to show the world that you are still vibrant, sexy, confident, capable and aesthetic, even if you are so in a slightly new way.
Mumsy clothes should make you feel powerful, beautiful and at ease in the world. You have done a miraculous thing, you are the most important person in someone’s universe and your body is wonderful. If that means bright colours, if that means lycra, if that means satin pyjamas that look like cocktailwear, if that means a high vis vest with ‘New Mother’ emblazoned across the back, then wear it, pal. You can always put your dressing gown on later
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