Elizabeth Narins' ultrasound

Wearing the Right Clothes Helped Me Manage My First Trimester Bloating

Throughout the first trimester of my first pregnancy, my body constantly surprised me. It would change so quickly that I'd outgrow my work clothes by the end of the day. And then there was the bloating, which regularly struck at the most inopportune times.

There was one summer day during my second month of pregnancy when I'd impulsively worn high-waisted pants to work. I'd been leading digital content and social media at a New York City-based weight loss company for almost two years, and I often ran late due to outfit indecision. (This only worsened during pregnancy as my clothes grew tighter and tighter.)

The particular pants I'd chosen buttoned and tied just above my hips and admittedly, barely fit when I hurriedly dressed and rushed off to work that morning.

Throughout the first trimester of my first pregnancy, my body constantly surprised me. It would change so quickly that I'd outgrow my work clothes by the end of the day.

Later that day, I found myself in the back of a party van surrounded by coworkers on our way to a team shuffleboard club bonding event. I was desperately still trying to keep my pregnancy a secret, even though I was the only one in the van besides the driver who'd turned down the spiked seltzer cans being passed around.

I’d always suffered from car sickness, and this cross-borough ride laden with stop-and-go traffic was no exception. Every lurch made me feel like I was going to hurl, especially when I took my eyes off the road to make eye contact during conversations with my coworkers. For the last 20 bumpy minutes, I sat in silence looking forward, my waistband cutting into my diaphragm and seriously testing my pants button.

A Surprising Pregnancy Symptom

By the time we reached the event space, I was feeling the unique kind of pregnancy nausea where the only answer is eating. (Based on my experience alone, carbs tend to do the trick!)

Within minutes of copping no more than a few French fries from a coworker, I started to feel like I'd eaten a thousand. This must be a pregnancy symptom, I thought. After all, I was still in my first trimester; my body had never felt more foreign.

Bloating, as it happens, is a common symptom of early pregnancy, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). This is due to soaring levels of the hormone progesterone, which slows digestion and can trap gas in the intestines. Tight clothing can aggravate this.

My bloating was so unbearable that I had to excuse myself from the middle of a shuffleboard game to take a breather. In the bathroom mirror, I studied myself. I looked like I’d just eaten Thanksgiving dinner. While I didn’t want to be the first person to duck out of a work event, I knew I had to. There was something I desperately needed to do, and it absolutely couldn’t wait.

I slipped out the front door of the venue and untied and unbuttoned my pants. Sweet relief! I retied them just tightly enough to avert stares from strangers and set off by foot toward home.

How Clothes Can Help You Embrace Your Changing Body

I was prepared to handle uncomfortable social situations while sober during my pregnancy, but being stuck in uncomfortable pants is a fate I believe no one should have to suffer. After that, I mostly wore flowy dresses to work.

I was prepared to handle uncomfortable social situations while sober during my pregnancy, but being stuck in uncomfortable pants is a fate I believe no one should have to suffer.

Even before your bump is pronounced, you might find your waist expanding by the hour like mine did thanks to bloating. It's a manageable problem if you’re prepared with the right clothes—think fabrics with give or styles with roomier cuts.

One of the best and most cathartic things I did during my first trimester was to clean out my closet. It made it significantly easier to pull together outfits before work and feel at peace with my growing body. (Plus, it helped put an end to my work morning closet panic!)

I packed up my cinched-waist dresses, cropped tops, and low-cut shirts (my breasts were the first to grow). Then, I hung only my roomiest work clothes front and center to grab and go in the mornings. It made getting dressed much simpler and ensured I never accidentally popped a pants button.

Even if you’re working from home where the dress code is Zoom chic up top and comfy pants below, it still pays to put tight clothes out of sight to avoid feeling frustrated when things don’t fit. After all, you’re pregnant and only getting bigger. Coming to terms with that before getting dressed is the first step to accepting a body in transition.

Shopping For an Ever-Expanding Belly

After the discomfort I felt at my work event, I started buying real maternity clothes. My first stop was Destination Maternity. The company offers a pillow you can wrap around your abdomen to simulate what you'll look like wearing clothes over a larger bump. I also shopped at ASOS, which has a trendy maternity section.

To avoid feeling like I was throwing away money on clothes I could only wear during pregnancy, I bought a handful of roomy dresses that would grow with me. I even picked out a few with statement prints that I expected I'd get sick of over the course of nine months, anyway.

Online shopping made it easy to explore different looks that I would never have considered otherwise. While I thought I’d prefer to hide my bump, I ended up feeling great—and, dare I say, sexy—in tight, but work-appropriate dresses. Most of them transitioned easily from day to night, which was key to taking full advantage of date nights before we needed to add a babysitter’s salary to every bill.

Whatever your parent-to-be style is, gravitating toward clothes made for a changing body will help you feel more comfortable when your body size—and everything else in your life—is totally in flux.

I came to love stretchy fabrics, ruching, and jumpers, which worked in the fall with a light layer and in the dead of winter with maternity tights and high boots. I'd always been a dress person, but my maternity wardrobe felt fresh and edgier than my typical style. (Or maybe I just felt good, particularly during the second trimester!)

Whatever your style, gravitating toward clothes made for a changing body will help you feel more comfortable when your body size—and everything else in your life—is totally in flux. Particularly when a symptom like bloating surprises you...even if it happens at work.

1 Source
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  1. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Changes During Pregnancy.