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  • Washing Guidelines for Maternity Clothes

    If you are like most people, doing the laundry is not your favorite pastime. You may notice that it tends to pile up more in the warm weather, when we are actually wearing less clothes, than the winter months. I think we are more active in the summer and with the warmer weather, more sweaty, causing us to wash the clothes more often. If you are pregnant, chances are that you are perspiring a bit more than normal as the weather heats up and your hamper is filling up faster with bigger clothes. The bad news is that this pile of laundry is just going to increase when your family increases (although who doesn’t love putting away cute baby clothes?) But the good news is that we may not need to laundry as often as we do which can conserve water, energy and our own time and energy.

    So, just how often do we need to wash our clothes and what clothes warrant more frequent washing than others? As Americans we shower more than any other culture and we a wash our clothes more frequently. So, as a first rule of thumb we can assume that if we are mostly clean when we are wearing our clothes, and we are changing our clothes every day, then if they are not undergarments and we have not worn them to work out and they pass the smell test and general visual review test, then they are good to wear again.

    Maternity Underwear: The one piece of clothing we absolutely recommend you change and wash after one wearing is, of course, your underwear. If only for health and hygiene issues panties generally should be thrown in the laundry basket and changed every single day. The same goes for socks as our feet are known for their sweat and stink.

    Maternity and Nursing Bras: However, maternity bras and nursing bras may not need to be laundered daily. If you are working out or wearing a workout bra or nursing sports bra, then we can probably assume you worked up a sweat and yes, you should change and launder your bra. However, have not had a very active day, then you can go a couple of days before washing your bra.

    Nursing Pads: If you are nursing and wearing nursing pads under your bra for cushion and to help with leakage, make sure you do change those pads at least daily, but if the bra underneath is clean and did not get leaked on, you are probably good for another 2-3 wears Since bras do not generally come in direct contact with our underarms they actually do not need to be laundered as frequently as our close fitting tees and maternity tops. Also, it’s a good idea to rotate bras every day to give them a chance to recover. A 24 hour rest period as well as less frequent washing allows them to last longer. NOTE: Washing instructions on bras are very important. Most should be washed on the Delicate Gentle Cycle and it is generally a good idea to put these delicate in a washable mesh laundry bag so they do not get tangled up with other clothing in the washer and are more protected. Also, most nursing bras should be line dried. If you do put them in the dryer makes sure it is on the Cool Delicate Cycle.

    Maternity Camis/Nursing Tanks: Other intimate type clothing that is hugging your skin such as camis and nursing bra tanks can be worn 1-2 times depending on perspiration and smell test and how long you were wearing them. Again, these items should be treated delicately and washed on the Gentle Cycle and either line dried or tumbled dry on the Cool Delicate Cycle.

    Maternity Jeans: Denim is an incredibly durable fabric and usually looks better on us as it molds to our curves while wearing them. If you wash your demin too frequently then the heat and detergents can fade your jeans and make them look older more quickly. Maternity jeans in particular have a lot more spandex stretch to them than your regular prepregnancy jeans, so they are more sensitive to heat and detergent. Jeans can be worn up to five times before they need to be washed. When you do wash make sure the heat is not too high and you are better off opting for a more gentle cycle in the washer unless they are truly soiled. Also, be careful with drying as spandex can shrink if you overheat and over dry.

    Maternity Pants/Dress Slacks/Maternity Skirts: If you work indoors in an air conditioned environment, then you can usually wear these items 3-4 times before washing if you haven’t spilled anything on them. To stretch the days you can go between washings it is best to change out of them as soon as you get home and hang them up so the wrinkles fall out. Simply getting into the habit of taking off work clothes/nice days clothes at the end of the day at home and not lounging in them will extend their wear.

    Maternity Sweater, Jackets and Blazers: These are all second layer items that are not in direct contact with our skin and not clothes that we wear to work out in so naturally they require the least amount of cleaning. Make sure you check your fabric labels so that you dry clean or hand wash and line dry as directed. If there is no visible stains and the areas that are closer in contact to the skin such as the sleeve cuffs and collars are clean, then you are good to go 6-7 times. If you have a suit you wear frequently make sure that you get both the suit jacket and slacks cleaned together to prevent uneven fading.

    Maternity Sleepwear: Although you may shower nightly before changing into your maternity or nursing sleepwear, you still shed skin cells at night and you sweat in your sleep. Even if your sleepwear does not seem very dirty we still recommend washing it every 2-3 wearings. For items that are not super dirty but still need to be washed you might consider colder water and less detergent so that you are keeping your clothes clean but not wearing them out or overexposing your skin to chemicals.

    Hopefully the above recommendations are good news to reduce your laundry list and save you more energy for your house, family and self. Along the same lines we are getting more and more feedback from medical research that we really don’t need to be showering as much as we do. Less frequent showering leads to more hydrated skin and healthier hair. Overall less water usage and washing leads to an easier and less expensive way of life which is what we all want in life!

  • Friendly Tips for your Pregnancy Journey

    Melissa Rycroft PregnancyIf it’s your first time to be pregnant, you may feel surprised by the enormous change and rate of change that your body, mind and hormones are going through. Maybe you have been trying to get pregnant for years of maybe it happened by surprise or all of a sudden. Either way, it’s an enormous change to life as you have known it, even though it may be thrilling and exciting at the same time. Fortunately we have a good eight months (from the time we find out) to get used to the idea that we are adding a member to our household and to do all we can to make the necessary practical and emotional preparations to add a baby to the family.

    As a mom of three children in the maternity clothes business, I have talked to hundreds of moms over the years. There were a number of things that I wish someone told me when I was pregnant (each time!). Here are my learnings that are not meant to be judgmental or preachy, because you get enough of that when you are pregnant and as a mom, but just meant to help you along your path and to put in your back pocket for when you need the encouragement:

    First, don’t worry about everything being perfect. It’s admirable to strive high and create the perfect nursery and have your complete six months of clothing and gear ready to go for your child before it’s born. But apart from the bare necessities of a safe sleep area, diapers, blankets, sleepers and some onesies, you are going to be just fine. Remember there is online shopping when you do need that new nursing bra because the ones you bought during pregnancy don’t fit and you are too tired to leave the house. There is also diaper services if you opt for cloth diapers but don’t want to deal with cleaning them.  Fortunately for these hectic times in life we do live in a day and age when answers can be at our fingertips. However, don’t forget to let real live people help you too. Call on your neighbors, friends and any nearby family if you need them. Now is the time to cash in on any goodwill that people are willing to offer you, you do need it and deserve any help you can get and most people are happy to help out.

    Do make sure you do have a childcare arrangement in place before you hit the nine month mark. Fill out all the necessary paperwork for FMLA/maternity leave and inform managers and coworkers of your leave. Have a plan in place at work to cover for your absence and let people know your timeframe for leave, even if it is subject to change.  Whether it be an extended maternity leave or grandparents pitching in when you return to work, it does give you some peace of mind to have at least have a plan in place for the first few months for your baby’s care. It’s also stress relieving for yourself and those around you to have a clearly communicated leave plan so you don’t leave tasks hanging or yourself and others panicking the minute. This brings me to my next point and one that many women struggle with:

    There is no right or wrong answer to what you decide on with the BIG decisions of returning to work or staying at home with your child fulltime. It is a difficult decision and if you are not sure, then maybe opt for something in between – look to have a longer maternity leave if you can negotiate that or return part-time or set up a work at home arrangement or flexible work hours. Even with large corporations it often boils down to what you can work out with your manager and generally if you can bring it up a number of months in advance you will get a more favorable response than to spring it on them a few weeks before your maternity leave. Choosing a longer leave or a more flexible hour work week is often a good stepping stone before making a more definite fulltime work or fulltime stay at home decision. You may find something in between that is just perfect for you for a period of time. Although many people will have a lot of ideas on this subject, and it may be helpful to hear their ideas and personal experiences, it is ultimately your choice to make in harmony with your partner and your financial goals. Many fathers also take FMLA and extended leave for their newborns. Some Dads decide to stay at home or work out a more flexible work schedule. Explore your options fully and just go with the best decision for you and your family (and don’t worry about making the perfect decision). Do not let anyone guilt you about your decision to stay home or not stay home. They are both equally valid choices.

    There are many solutions to caring for your newborn from a fulltime nanny, daycare, grandparents pitching in or some combination of everything. If you are looking at caregivers it is a good idea to start interviewing in advance of your due date. If you are looking at daycare arrangement then embark on your tours of these facilities well in advance and go with your gut if you are not comfortable with a particular place or caregiver. Many daycare businesses have a waiting list, so it may be a good idea to get on the waiting list early, even if you find a better plan later an and drop off the list.  Remember you are allowed to change course at any time. No one is holding you to your decision and if they are, then they should not be as this decision is yours and your partner’s alone. You can be a good mother and work at the office, you can be a good mother and work at home, and you can be a good mother and stay at home with your child. There are good nannies and not so good nannies and some grandparents are excellent fulltime caretakers for their grandchildren while some do not have the energy, abilities or desire to take on this more involved role. You can navigate these steps and arrive at the best solution. Life is not perfect and it's not supposed to be - how boring would that be?!! We all do our best and our best is typically more than enough for the health and wellbeing of our baby, selves and family, even if it is not perfectly perfect. Children have turned out well with all varieties of paths for early caregiving.

    The next point of advice is the one that is often most ignored by both new and experienced moms. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. This advice extends to pregnancy. Now is a time when your body is under tremendous change. Every day you will probably notice something different about some part of your anatomy whether it be a tighter bra, a bigger belly, snugger shoes or a new food aversion or craving. The body you used to know so well is evolving into something totally alien that you are trying to understand anew each day, let alone dress! It’s difficult to even know what to eat! You may find your energy is a bit lower but then you may also find you have bursts of energy in your second trimester. Get used to tuning into your body and listening to what it tells you. What used to be normal is no longer normal when you are pregnant and that’s ok. Be kind to yourself and cut yourself a little slack. Go ahead and get that pregnancy massage and let your partner rub your feet at the end of the day. Buy some maternity clothes that are comfortable and make you feel pretty. Try to find time to take small naps when you are tired, even if it’s just on the weekend if you work. Do something nice for yourself each day, even if it’s something small.

    Although it is important to get your rest and scale back on activities when you feel tired, it is also helpful to take some form of physical exercise, even if it’s just walking around the block. It’s necessary to keep up your strength up during pregnancy and to maintain your health, blood sugar and to help with delivery (unless you are on bed rest of course).  Maintaining fitness will also help you bounce back that much easier after pregnancy and give you the energy to care for your baby (which can be a bit of marathon in the early weeks particularly if you are nursing around the clock).  In addition to the added benefit of helping you look good, exercise will help balance your serotonin levels and allow you to achieve a more positive mental outlook so that you feel happier, more joyful and peaceful as well as sleep better at night. Do be careful not to engage in any risky physical activities (remember your balance and stamina are not the same) and listen to your body at all times when you exercise so that you don’t overextend yourself or get dehydrated. Remember you are pregnant, so don’t try to break any records running marathons or playing tennis tournaments!

    Finally try and take some time out and smell the roses. This is a special time in life that you will always remember. Get some pretty photographs done while you enjoy your shape (sometimes we are so enormous in the last few months of pregnancy that we don’t want a camera anywhere around us!) Spend some time to bond with your partner and indulge in some date nights or a Babymoon if you can find the time, even if it’s something special nearby. You will always remember this special time together before you had your baby and the memories you created.

  • Nursing Clothes – The Smart Choice!

    When you’re pregnant it’s hard to even think ahead to having your baby or to imagine a day of not being pregnant. It seems that every day you roll out of bed (since rolling is the only way you can move at times), you are a bit bigger than the last time you checked in the mirror or tried to count your toes. Meanwhile you are quickly determining that your pre-pregnancy extra loose clothing will no longer adequately fit your expanding belly or simply looks ridiculous on your now very pregnant body. Welcome to the club!

    The idea of spending a lot of money on maternity clothes is not always highly appealing, although you do need new clothes to comfortably fit your shape (fast!) since losing weight is not an option, nor should it be. For most of us it’s the first time in our life that we have our Doctor’s permission to steadily gain weight and eat more to be healthy, this should be outstanding news, right? On the surface this task seems super fun in so many ways, but it can suddenly become a very inconvenient feat in that we quickly find out our wardrobe options are dwindling fast and our belly shows no sign of slowing its runaway expansion march!

    My advice to expecting women who would like to look stylish while not spending a fortune on a huge new wardrobe of maternity clothes is this:

    1. Invest smartly in a number of everyday items that you can mix and match in your maternity wardrobe. Definitely invest in a good pair of maternity jeans with a lot of stretch, crops and yoga pants and a few casual skirts that can go with everything in your casual wardrobe. Also get some great basic tops in a variety of colors with varying sleeve lengths depending on the season you are in or approaching. ¾ sleeves are a great option as they work year round and are comfortable inside and out unless it is truly hot outside. Also, pregnant women run a little hotter, so ¾ sleeves work well in cooler months too.
    2. If you need a business wardrobe for work, then also look to find some staple skirts and dress slacks that you can wear over and over. Blacks and taupe or khaki colors can work for any time of the year with a light stretchy rayon/spandex mix and plenty of room for an expanding belly. Dress pants and pencil skirts are not the thing that people remember, so you will need to buy less in terms of slacks and skirts than blouses and tops.
    3. For maternity tops, go light on patterns as they are easy to remember and opt for more solids as they can be interchanged more easily. However it’s important to find at least a few prints you do enjoy wearing – remember pregnancy is a time where you can dress up more because you’re pregnant.  After all, a pretty maternity dress can provide comfort with style with little effort. Maternity dresses will generally easily fit an expanding belly without troubling waistbands and give you a beautiful polished look in just a minute! You can sport a print wrap maternity dress to the office, PTA meeting, out to Saturday lunch with friends or date night with your husband. Just make sure you like it!
    4. Invest in a number of really good nursing bras and maternity underwear. Now trust me this is not an area where you want to skimp. There is nothing more uncomfortable than a too tight bra when you are pregnant or restrictive underwear. Your rib cage is expanding fast while you are pregnant in addition to your bra cup size. Your pre-pregnancy bras, even the sports bras will only take you so far and as your bust will grow before your belly. A great way to economize with your new bra collection is to invest in nursing bras (instead of just bigger bras or maternity bras) that fits you while you are pregnant. This way you can wear it both before and after and even nurse in it. Which brings us to the next point….
    5. Buy maternity clothes that double as nursing clothes and transition wear. You will find that once you have your baby, unless you are truly a super freak (and there are a few out there that literally walk out of the delivery room minus the basketball and practically into their pre-pregnancy wardrobe), you will most likely not fit back into your pre-pregnancy wardrobe for some time. If you choose to nurse, and we sincerely hope you do, then you will be grateful for clothing in your wardrobe that is specifically made for nursing, no fuss involved. This is particularly useful in the early stages of nursing when both you and your baby are on a steep learning curve and generally anything that makes nursing easier makes life a thousand times easier. Also, transition wear clothing that is made to stretch where you need it and look good on you after you have your baby will help camouflage a postpartum belly. All of these factors add to your quality of life before and after you have your baby and can help stretch your dollar with your maternity clothes investment.

    Remember pregnancy does not last a lifetime, although it may seem like it at times. Why not enjoy this time in your life and dress in a way that is both comfortable and versatile for both during and after your pregnancy. It’s easy to look good and stylish with a few good staples and fun prints in your wardrobe. Enjoy the journey and shopping!

     

     

     

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