Jessica Florio month 5 of pregnancy

Embracing Maternity Clothing Helped Me Feel Confident in My Pregnant Body

Around halfway through my pregnancy, my husband and I made plans for a dinner out to celebrate our anniversary. Prior to this, I wasn't getting around much due to my pelvic pain, which was caused by symphysis pubis disorder (SPD). SPD is a painful condition that can occur at any point during pregnancy, where too much of the hormone relaxin can cause pelvic instability. I was working part-time at a fitness studio, and often at home resting as needed. Occasionally, I had to throw on some "real clothes," but I spent most of my days in leggings and sweaters.

So of course, I was very excited to dress up and have a night out. I remember pulling out a form-fitting dark pink dress that had some stretch to it, thinking surely I could squeeze myself in. Within moments of stepping in though, it was clear that it was not going to happen. It barely fit over my hips and butt, and the zipper was not budging past my rib cage. I was shocked. When did I get so much bigger, and how did I not even realize it? 

I remember pulling out a form-fitting dark pink dress that had some stretch to it, thinking surely I could squeeze myself in...It barely fit over my hips and butt, and the zipper was not budging past my rib cage. I was shocked. When did I get so much bigger, and how did I not even realize it? 

Pregnancy weight snuck up on me slowly. A few pounds here or there over time can sometimes be difficult to notice, especially when you know you are supposed to be gaining weight for the baby. Even though I saw the numbers changing on the scale, I was so focused on my growing breasts and belly that I didn't really notice weight anywhere else. When I saw my reflection in the mirror, I would zoom in on the most important parts—my baby bump and their future milk source!

So until this month, my “maternity” clothing pretty much only consisted of buying bigger bras. My breasts and rib cage were so dramatically different, there was no getting around this. Over the first half of my pregnancy, I grew from a size 32C to 34G!

It was kind of cool to experience a whole new chest size at first, and I genuinely loved it. Not knowing much about having large breasts, I bought a few nice low-impact, low-support sports bras, just like the ones I already owned but in a bigger size. Frustratingly, these bras did not work for my new needs.

Very quickly, I realized that bigger breasts definitely needed better support. It took a lot of trial and error to figure out what type of bra would be best, and it felt like the possibilities were endless. Eventually found a brand or two that checked off the important everyday-bra boxes: expandable (just in case I got even bigger!), supportive, no-frills, and non-underwire. 

As for the rest of my wardrobe, I just made whatever was in my closet work. As mentioned, due to my job and need to take it easy for my pelvic pain, I basically lived in stretchy workout clothes, leggings, and oversized sweaters for the first few months.

If I needed to wear jeans, a simple button expander worked. And when the weather started getting warmer in New York, I was able to throw on a loose dress and a cute jacket. I wasn’t exactly resistant to buying maternity clothes, but up until now, there was no rush or sense of urgency. 

I wasn’t exactly resistant to buying maternity clothes, but up until now, there was no rush or sense of urgency.

That’s how I found myself, five months pregnant, staring confusedly into the mirror wondering why the heck one of my favorite dresses no longer fit. Trying to squeeze myself into this dress just made me feel bad about my body, when I had nothing to feel bad about! It became abundantly clear that it was time to let my old clothing go.

My ideal maternity wear was much harder to find than I expected. Many of the options I found were either not my style, didn't fit properly, or were too expensive. I felt thrown off by the maternity details like empire waists, ruching on the sides of shirts, fabric panels in the jeans, and flaps for nursing during the postpartum transition.

Dresses seemed like a promising and easy go-to, but at 5'10", all the cute mini maternity dresses were more like awkwardly sized T-shirts on me. I did find a couple of brands that I absolutely loved, but they were expensive, and I was hesitant to spend much money on clothing that was so transitional.

I ended up getting a mix of true maternity clothing and larger-sized dresses from brands that I already knew were good for tall frames. The buying process wasn't just a one-time deal—it continued over the next three months, as I figured out what I liked and outgrew some things. But getting some good basics in—one pair of jeans, two pairs of shorts, a couple of tops, and a couple of dresses—was a perfect start. And I became thankful for all of those maternity details that add to the pieces' longevity as your bump gets bigger!

Giving in to new clothes that actually fit was so much better than I could have imagined. Instead of thinking about the outfits in relation to my non-pregnant self, I thought of them in relation to my new self. Once I really embraced the fact that my arms, legs, and butt were getting bigger too, I felt liberated. Sure I didn't always love every outfit I wore, but I loved knowing that I could reach into the maternity section of my closet and pick out something besides stretchy pants that I knew would fit well.

Once I really embraced the fact that my arms, legs, and butt were getting bigger too, I felt liberated.

My new clothing made me feel confident and proud of my new body. Looking back, it seemed so comical that I was trying so hard to wear the same things I did when I wasn't pregnant.

A few months later, it was time to pick out a dress for my baby shower. The anxiety around what to wear came back again, as I really wanted to rock a dress that my old self would pick out. I wanted to look stylish and sexy! I thought about sizing up a non-maternity dress. But of course, the best dress I could find to fit me was a true maternity dress.

I'll never forget walking into my baby shower and greeting my friends and family when one of my cousins stopped and grabbed my arm. "You look amazing", she said. "There's no way that's a maternity dress." I smiled and proudly responded, "Yes, it is!"

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  1. Howell ER. Pregnancy-related symphysis pubis dysfunction management and postpartum rehabilitation: two case reportsJ Can Chiropr Assoc. 2012;56(2):102-111.