Owning and running a clothing boutique is pretty cool stuff...but you might not know that I (Bonnie, owner and founder of Novalie) am also a mom to 10 children. That job is even more fun and chaotic than selling fashion!
I love sharing tips and advice to any new mom who's looking for it because being pregnant and having babies hold such a special place in my heart. And while I won't ever claim to be a huge fan of maternity clothes, I will say that learning how to dress during that tricky postpartum phase is one of my favorite challenges to tackle. It's pretty common for expectant moms to spend lots of time researching and purchasing the cutest and most functional hospital gown (check out our new mama gift box for the perfect choice!) but what about clothes to wear well after giving birth?
Read on for 5 important features to look for in the right postpartum clothes...
Look for easy access for nursing
Breastfeeding is one of my favorite things to do in the whole entire world, but it doesn't always come easy. And finding an outfit to nurse in discreetly is something you might not even think about (that is, until you try to feed your newborn at your first visit to the pediatrician's office...in a turtleneck sweater dress!). You might find this post helpful and you can shop all our nursing friendly dresses, tops and jumpsuits here.
Don't put away your maternity clothes yet
Do some women come home from the hospital wearing their size 6 pre-pregnancy jeans? Probably, but those women are the rare exception. It is completely normal and expected to look and feel a little bit pregnant after giving birth. Keep your favorite maternity clothes on hand (generally the ones that fit you during the early 2nd trimester will be perfect) to wear for at least the first month or so after baby joins the family. If you want to come home looking put together, I recommend packing maternity leggings and a flowy top in your hospital bag, although there's nothing wrong with just going home in your favorite nightgown or sweatpants either.
I splurged on some great quality maternity jeans when I was pregnant with my 8th baby and never regretted it. Not only did I wear them nonstop during those last pregnancies, I wore them a TON after baby as well. And no one ever knew that those cute skinny jeans I was rocking were actually built for a pregnant belly!
Choose the right postpartum underwear
Buying the right underwear for your body in the fourth trimester is critical for staying comfortable and feeling the most flattered in your clothes. I promise you, if you try to squeeze your beautiful postbaby body into prepregnancy underwear, you will feel miserable. Thankfully, you'll probably get some great mesh underwear (your new best friend!) from your nurse or midwife for those first few days, but after that, I highly recommend purchasing some soft, super stretchy, high waisted underwear with great bum coverage.
You'll want to buy panties that:
• make sure all your postpartum pads stay in place to prevent leaking
• don't shift and bunch when you're spending lots of time resting in bed or on the couch
• tuck in all the excess belly skin you'll have as your body begins to shrink (or avoid rubbing a C-section incision)
Don't forget to shop for an amazing nursing bra as well. High end department stores have some great options and usually keep a professional bra fitter on staff to help you find the perfect size. A great sports bra (or wrap-front sleep bra) can also be a good idea to keep on hand for those early postpartum days, especially until your milk supply stabilizes and you know what cup size to settle on.
Dress for baby's comfort too
It's important to realize that when you have a new baby, that baby is basically a part of you for those first few weeks. I try to avoid wearing necklaces or any top or dress with decoration on the collar or chest. Lots of buttons or scratchy fabrics are not very fun for baby to lay on. Once baby gets a little more head control (around 6-8 weeks), he or she won't be lying on your chest all the time and you can start incorporating more of those button front dresses we love so much.
I love to find tops that are stretchy enough to even slip baby inside with me to have some skin-on-skin bondng time without the trouble of taking off any clothes!
Wovens instead of knits
There are two main kinds of fabrics out there: wovens (think button-down tops, denim, silky evening gowns - generally don't stretch) and knits (think T-shirts and leggings). If you're like most new mothers, you might try to wear all your favorite stretchy knit T-shirts right after having that first baby...only to realize that they stretch unflatteringly over that beautiful post-baby belly. Time to switch to tops made of woven fabrics! They skim over the belly and mean you can look fabulous even while dealing with postpartum recovery.
A great choice for tops are boxy cotton shirts or flowy rayon ones that only hint to your shape underneath. And while you'll often hear people touting dark colors as the best for creating a slimming silhouette, I'm a big fan of bold prints! Anything that keeps the eye moving will ensure that people only remember your style, and not every lovely lady lump. Side note: the most breathable fabrics are often wovens and will help you stay cool even with a warm little nugget on your body all day. Check out lots of our mom-friendly tops here.
A few more of my best tips...
• Put away the jeans for now (unless they're crazy stretchy) and stick with any bottoms with an elastic waistband. Your body will be in a near-constant state of flux as it adjusts to life without carrying a baby inside. Do it a favor and dress for comfort! Bonus: stretchy pants (especially high waisted ones) are infinitely more comfortable on a c-section scar.
• Make daily showering a priority. That first day of new mommyhood is a beast and you're probably going to want to sleep forever. But once you get home from the hospital or birth center, make sure that getting in the shower once a day is at the top of your list. You will just feel so much better about life after cleaning up a bit (even if it happens at 4pm).
• Create some positive mantras regarding your postpartum body and put them all over the house. Learning to love this new shape of yours might prove to be difficult; social media is constantly telling us to "bounce back" immediately after having a baby. The most important thing in this phase is taking care of you and your baby and you need self-love and confidence to do that. You should be so proud of what your body just did!
The postpartum period is a time of incredible changes for your body; almost as many as you saw during pregnancy. Be patient with your body and all your fabulous new curves. You're doing such a good job, mama!