Maternity and First Year Staples
Nothing can be more frustrating than opening a full closet and not finding anything to wear. When you’re pregnant or have just given birth, it can be doubly discouraging. Many can spend hundreds of dollars buying items of clothing during pregnancy that, a year later, may have gotten one or two uses. One year in, as I go through my wardrobe to do my regular keep, give away and donate piles, I realise that there were only a few staples that I used over and over.
Some of my essential items in the first year and beyond:
One good pair of maternity pants
I found the ones with a wide elastic band on the sides of the waist to be more comfortable, but everyone has different levels of comfort with bands on their bellies so I would recommend trying a few brands. One pair can take you from your second trimester on. I still wear mine 14 months postpartum, because they are so comfortable and they look like regular pants. H&M and Zara have some reasonably-priced pairs. JCrew, where I got mine, now ships to Singapore and have sales on maternity clothes at regular intervals (usually once for each change of season). JCrew are also a great option for work-appropriate wear, but the downside is you can’t try them on, so may have to deal with returns (ASOS falls into this camp as well).
Surplice dress This is by far one of the more flattering styles for any body type. Look for materials with a little stretch and structure (think cotton blends), but avoid very clingy knits as they may drape in unflattering ways. Anything knee-length or longer can take you from pregnancy and beyond. It will look more empire-waisted as your bump pushes up the waistline during pregnancy, but can also be very breastfeeding friendly, if you end up nursing. You can get away with shopping in the regular shops for these and save some money, although maternity-specific clothing lines will have thoughtful details such as ruching, softer elastics on belly bands and lined tops.
Bra extenders You can get these at any lingerie store. They are essentially an extra band that you can hook on to your current bra. You can probably get away with attaching two at once and extend the life of your current bra (just before your cup size starts to get out of hand). These were helpful early on in my pregnancy and even right after I gave birth. Much more economical than buying an interim bra that you may only wear for a few months, at most.
Slip-on sandals My feet grew a size starting in my third trimester. I also dealt with some water retention and swelling so even my most comfortable pair of sneakers would get uncomfortable. Slip-ons were the only thing I could use until my feet started to go back to normal. Look for some arch support and try to avoid flip flops (thongs for the Aussies), as the thin foot bed may not offer enough cushion. Consider some outdoor brands, such as Teva, who offer additional wide styles (usually available in hiking or outdoor shops).
These are great staples for layering or wearing on their own. Nursing-friendly, especially if paired with a regular button- down shirt worn as a cardigan or over-shirt. Uniqlo, H&M, Muji or Cotton On have good options.
Pumping bra If you’re planning to pump, you may wonder if it’s worth the investment. For the convenience and flexibility, I would recommend it. You have your hands free and can be a little productive (or not) as you pump. Simple Wishes make a few options and are now available in Singapore via Amazon Prime Now. In a pinch though, especially if you’re not sure about pumping, you can take an old sports bra and cut slits to fit pump flanges through.
Hair tie Another hack that saved me hundreds of dollars was using a hair tie as an extender on my jeans/pants/shorts. You tie the hair tie on the buttonhole side and loop the button into loop (Google "hair tie button hole" and you'll see some images and videos). Pair with a long tank or top to hide the hack.