Pregnancy lasts a mere forty weeks—but it’s enough time for your body to do a complete 180. It’s sometimes a challenge to see the rest of your body swell along with your tummy, and an even greater challenge to dress this ever-inflating shape (especially when your bum and boobs are competing with your belly for attention). Add in the pressure to live up to the annoyingly super-cute—and super-styled—Hollywood moms, and I’m tempted to cry into my muumuu. To keep the muumuu at bay (at least when I’m in public!), I polled my most stylish and hip “mama friends” to see how they survived their nine-month style challenge. Here are a few of their style and beauty musts to make pregnancy as blissful (well, as blissful looking!) as all the books advertise.
A Good Belly Cream.
The books all say you can’t fight ’em—they’re a badge of motherhood. Doctors say they’re genetic, and we’re made to feel our minds should me on other “less shallow” things. I’ll concede to the other badges of motherhood (family-wagon, sleep deprivation, soccer-mom shoes), but stretch marks I’ll fight—or rather moisturize—to the death. I’m putting my faith in Mustela’s Stretch Marks Double Action cream. This cream smells nice, rubs right in—no oil residue on your shirt after application, and it’s hypoallergenic.
Cocoa butter is another favorite, and lotions containing the stuff are readily, and inexpensively, available at any pharmacy. Also, I have a friend who swears by plain old olive oil. The idea is to help keep your skin supple—help your skin out from the inside by drinking lots of water!
A Not-so-little Black Dress.
It’s going to happen to you at least once during your pregnancy—that invitation to a wedding or fabulous party will arrive in your mailbox and you will be forced to force your ever-increasing tummy into a party dress. Fortunately, designers are now more aware of the growing mama’s needs and have designed accordingly. I bought a black Liz Lange dress that I probably wore a hundred times the summer I was pregnant. I changed the accessories depending on the occasion to either dress it up or down: a funky necklace with a nice wrap for evening, and then a jacket or cardigan that allowed my tummy to peek out by day.
GapMaternity makes great dresses at great prices and you can usually find a solid not-so-little black (or other solid color) dress to anchor your maternity wardrobe. Actually, all of Gap’s maternity options—from basic T’s to dressy pants—are great. Liz Lange also does a maternity line for Target that has some cute things. They don’t always fit as nicely as Gap or the higher end Liz Lange line, but they won’t set you back very much
A Good Pair of Jeans.
A good pair of jeans is essential to every functional closet, so what makes you think you can get through nine months (and maybe even two months after baby) without a pair? Get over the stretchy panel: It’ll bother—even scare—you at first, but you’ll be happy to have that extra support as the weeks wear on. Splurging on a stylish pair of maternity jeans is a must. You can buy lots of cheap/disposable tops to wear with the fab jeans, but one good pair of jeans is a self-esteem-essential. Buy good quality and they’ll see you, and your friends, through many pregnancies. My friends swear by J & Company Robertson, Citizens of Humanity, and Seven maternity jeans, and they will set you back a bit, but you’ll get your money’s worth! Seven has the demi-cut that sits below the tummy, if you are truly fearful of that belly panel. Again, good old Gap Maternity has several styles of maternity jeans that are stylish and easier on the wallet.
The words “sensible” or “practical” can be depressing when used with the word “shoes,” especially when you’re pregnant and everything else has to be sensible and practical too. You can find comfy shoes without turning into a Grandma, and your feet will thank you—especially in the third trimester when bending down to zip sexy boots can become impossible. If you’re like me and your feet swell into Fred Flintstone feet, you’re going to want to slip shoes on and go.
For the winter months, Uggs are a great choice. They come in all kinds of styles now and they look good while keeping your toes toasty. Rocket Dog makes a similar boot as well as lots of sporty and cute shoes for pregnant feet. Then there are Pumas (like walking on air), Dansko’s (a little earthy, but those nurses know what they are talking about!), and cute ballet flats in every shade, pattern, and fabric. Check out Piperlime and shoes.com for fun options.
When the weather turns warmer, flip flops (Havaianas for casual wear and J.Crew metallic ones for a dressier casual feel); Birkenstocks (I have a black shiny leather pair); and Crocs are casual favorites. Again flats are your friend, and in summer you can mix in open toe flats—choose soft fabrics that won’t pinch tender tootsies.
I’m never a frilly bra kind of girl, but when I’m pregnant, I’m even more practical than normal. Buzz words here are stretchy, comfy, and support. You can still pick some funky colors, and if you are small crested you probably can get away with the sexier stuff, but for me the emphasis is on comfort.
I like Gap Body’s Hidden Wire Full Support bra and their ever-popular T-shirt bras. A friend of mine suggested Gilligan & O’Malley Underwire Racerback Basic Cotton bra, sold at Target. She claims it’s the best bra ever…and she owns dozens of them. Proof enough for me.
The consensus was that the “built in bra” tanks from Old Navy were also unbeatable. My pal and expert hot mama says, “It must be Old Navy…the others suck…they are way too short over the belly. You need two in black and white and one in a bold color, like aqua.” Spoken like a true “been there done that” guru! Another friend told me about a new brand of seamless underwear called Sassybax—their bras stretch to accommodate your swelling mammaries but still provide that sports bra support and comfort.
A Good Hairstylist.
While you could argue this is a necessity all the time, a trusted hair stylist is a must when your hormones are in flux. There is nothing worse than having a bad cut—or a tragic color job—while you are a hormonal mess. A good hair stylist will know how to make you feel fab, and will also know to ignore you when you ask for something “rad.” Don’t make any dramatic hair decisions when pregnant, but do showcase that thick lustrous hair that comes as a benefit (yes a benefit!) of all those hormones!