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maternity fashion

  • Advice to New Moms -Be Yourself!

    link to Art Docent Program Home PageIf you are about to become a first time mom or if you are a new mom, here is my hand me down mom advice for you. Don’t cringe, because it’s advice you’re going to like, not critical unsolicited advice that by virtue of being a mother you will be sure to get a lot of anyway. Here’s my advice, do things your way. Don’t crumble to the pressure to be perfect, or try to be your own mother re-incarnated. You may not be wired to be just like that neighbor or friend who “seems” to do it all perfectly while sewing her kids’ clothes and posting cute Pinterest quality DIY birthday invite, party favors and everything in between. It’s easy to drive yourself crazy from pregnancy onwards trying to figure out how to live up to what you perceive is the perfect mom because, really, no one really is. We can only be our own best version and that’s usually much better than copying somebody else’s version.

    My advice to you and my younger self of 10-12 years ago is try to simply be the best mom you can be without driving yourself crazy. Being the best mom for you might mean that you splurge on a biweekly housekeeper to help you keep your sanity. It also might mean that your husband is the main cook in the house and you all do not fall in the traditional role criteria for Mom and Dad – that’s just fine too. Maybe you are the main breadwinner and both you and your husband work fulltime, so you child is in fulltime daycare. There are many excellent daycares our there that work out wonderfully for families (just be sure to vet them and be willing to pull the plug and change if for any reason you feel you should). It might mean that you hire a babysitter on your day off so you can recuperate and feel human again.

    Yes, being a mom takes sacrifices that 95% of the time you are glad to make. The hard part I find (and in talking with other mom friends it seems to be a theme), is feeling the need to live up to all of the mom standards that seem to be imposed upon us. As your kids get older to preschool and elementary school age, you will find there is tremendous pressure to volunteer. Now volunteering is a good thing and a tremendous benefit to not only your child but other children and can be very fulfilling. But if volunteering becomes an obligation that crowds our calendar out of other priorities and the energy we need to be a good mom at home with our own children, then the balance has tipped too far. Sometimes as moms we feel that it’s okay to sacrifice ourselves to the breaking point and the truth is that when we are totally burnt out and spent and even ill, we are of no use to anyone, including our families. So, it is okay to say no and to ignore the guilt when we feel we do not need to give more if we are not going to giving cheerfully.

    Also, you might find there are certain areas that you enjoy volunteering (and perhaps more gifted at) than others. I have found I enjoy teaching my kid’s reader’s workshop and some art classes, but I get antsy chaperoning for every field trip. My kids whine and complain when I don’t go on many of these field trips, but I tell them there are other moms that do that type of volunteering, but I do the other sort of volunteering in their art classes or reading workshops. The opportunities are endless for volunteering in the class, on the playground, on the soccer teams and for playdates of course. Don’t overcommit yourself or you will become bitter and there’s nothing worse than an unhappy volunteer or an unhappy mom. Choose how you can best contribute and leave your guilt on the doorstep.

    In addition to busyness the other area we need to stand up for as moms (this goes for moms of older kids too), is the right to embrace our own identity. Once a mom, always a mom and that is beautiful thing. In the beginning it’s a new and novel identity that we can revel in or sometimes feel we haven’t quite deserved (don’t worry, that feeling will pass soon!) But, as we give more of our time and selves to our children and families, it is easy to get lost in the shuffle and forget that we have needs too. So, it is important, no matter how silly it may seem, to set a discipline early of not only taking couple time with our partners, and girl time with some friends, but also time alone to do something we really want to do even if it’s read a magazine and have a cup of coffee somewhere where no one will bother us for an hour or taking a little time out each day to walk or hit the gym. By doing this on a regular basis we will reconnect with our inner selves and have a renewed enthusiasm for our family and loved ones.

    Fashion is also a way to connect to our inner selves and something that we can choose to express who we are. A famous fashion icon (can’t remember who) once said something truly revolutionary- it was “if we change the way we dress, we can change the way we think.” The gist of the message was that if we truly dress to express our identity, not necessarily the trend or please our partners (which is not always a bad thing from time to time on a date night), but play with and develop a style that suits our personalities, than that fashion statement becomes a means to expressing our unique personalities in our lives. This is why actors and actresses wear a costume or dress the part for a play or a movie, because not only does it communicate to the audience who they are in their role, but it allows them to fully embody the identity they are portraying. It is the same with fashion and quite liberating and fun as well to experiment with our style and give ourselves permission to change our style, until we find something that truly makes us feel alive and show our truth.

    Pregnancy is wonderful opportunity to experiment with our style and go outside our comfort zone. The pressure is off because when you are pregnant, people are excited for you and your growing bump. The pressure to be thin becomes irrelevant (and should be). Also, you suddenly need to shop for a wardrobe of maternity clothes because you have outgrown everything in your closet. As your body changes, we can suddenly experiment with enhanced cleavage styles and empire waist designs that you might have never tried before. Have fun with it and play dress up on your new form with new styles and colors! Try out that maxi maternity dress or bold prints that were out of your former fashion comfort zone.

    Motherhood is a wonderful time in life but it can also be busy. Focus on the beauty of your children and don’t second guess your instincts. Follow your gut in making smart choices for your child and for yourself. But remember to embrace your unique identity and have fun expressing yourself in your maternity fashion choices.

  • The Magic of Maternity Swimwear

    One must-have item that every pregnant woman needs in her wardrobe this summer is a maternity swimsuit that she loves. The criteria for loving it is that you will actually wear it and maybe look forward to wearing it, and that it does in fact fit comfortably and can be worn in the water without coming off or showing through.

    Many expecting women think that they really don’t need a maternity swimsuit, but the truth of the matter is that you will be hotter than hot this summer as you are running on a pregnancy thermostat, which always runs hotter than your normal pre-pregnancy temperature with elevated levels of progesterone flooding your veins. The reason they say you have a “bun in the oven” is because you are in fact cooking and yes, you are the oven.

    There is probably a good chance most of us will be near water at least some point this summer and there is no more relaxing activity or safer exercise for a pregnant woman than going in the pool and actually swimming or even just wading around. Your baby is swimming inside you all the time, so why not join him and her with your own water aerobic workout, swim a lap or two or simply move around in the water and enjoy the buoyancy of a lighter belly at last. In fact it will probably be the only time where you actually feel both cool and weightless, and that in itself is reason to invest in a very nice maternity swimsuit.

    The other misconception pregnant women often have, and myself included for my first pregnancy, is that you don’t actually need a maternity swimsuit. This, my friends, is an 'ole wives tale because either they don’t remember how uncomfortable it was to wear a regular swimsuit while pregnant (including buying one size up which just makes you feel bad and still doesn’t fit just right) or they probably didn’t make maternity swimsuits when those “ole wives” were around anyway. Anyone who has tried to squeeze a second to third trimester body into their pre-pregnancy swimsuit knows that it just doesn’t work and is very uncomfortable. Plus, by the end of those nine months that swimsuit is pretty much shot anyway with spandex that does not spring back into place, ever.

    Maternity swimsuits are really the best invention since sliced bread. Once you try one on, in the right size, you will have a "Hallelujah" moment. Finally, at last, someone got it right! You are not fat and your body is not bigger with the same proportions, you just have completely enlarged Dolly Parton proportions that can often include not only the expected belly and chest parts but also the bottom, just to help balance out that center of gravity in the front no doubt. Plus your breast are extra sensitive, so don't even think about minimizing swimsuits nor does your tummy need any pressure. Be respectful of the bump and honor it, you do have a living being down there after all who is only getting bigger by the minute and needs to breate. Also the thought of restrictive clothing of any kind is both suffocating and nauseating to most pregnant women.

    Maternity swimwear, when done well, is genius. It can have you actually looking good in your swimsuit, maybe even sexy if you allow yourself to admit it. Plus it is made to stretch and stretch and stretch comfortably where needed without falling off in the pool or getting carried away in a tidal wave (not that you should be doing any aggressive wave jumping at this point!)  As a result you can actually save money by not having to buy a new ill-fitting non-maternity swimsuit every 2 weeks or show excessive cleavage or worry about wardrobe malfunctions while enjoying the club pool with mixed company or chasing a toddler in the baby pool.

    Good fitting, well made and deliciously styled maternity swimwear is your right, your privilege for being pregnant in the summer time. It's your reason to get in the pool and move those achy joints while looking good at the same time. Enjoy your pregnancy and your summer with the right maternity swimsuit!

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