Nikki C is wearing the 'Everyday Bra' and the 'Harem Pants,' both in black.
Does this sound like you?
You’re in the last few weeks of your pregnancy, you only have a few items of clothing left that fit properly, you can’t tie your shoes yourself, your breasts are double the size they used to be, an old lady at the supermarket moments before just randomly rubbed your tummy (you’re still not sure how you feel about that), and now you’re starting to pack your hospital bag. A few thoughts enter your mind...should I really be wearing these maternity jeans right now? They’re starting to hurt. What should I give birth in? What do I wear once bubs has arrived?
If you’re thinking these thoughts, then you’re so much smarter than I was! Kudos to you!
Here’s the deal...for some odd reason, when it came time to pack my hospital bag for my first born, I had a whole range of gear to birth in, (three t-shirts? whhhhhy?) but I didn’t have ANYTHING to wear afterwards. WHAT…? It’s like my mind couldn’t comprehend anything POST the birth because that’s all I’d been focusing on!
Once baby Bede was out, my mom was searching through my bag for something for me to change into. I was having skin-to-skin with my 30m old baby when she proclaimed, “Ellen - where are your pants? You literally have no pants!”
I completely blew out here! Mom had to go back to my house and find some pants, more undies and a whole bunch of other things I’d forgotten! Perhaps my ‘baby brain’ was in full tilt when I packed my bag...I had completely lost the plot!
So...the moral of the story is - don’t do what I did! Here’s a handy little information piece designed to help you be far better prepared than I was. We've also included some solid medical advice for good measure too!
In this guide you’ll figure out what to wear during:
- the last few weeks of pregnancy.
- the first few weeks postpartum.
I think if I’d had something like this when it came time to pack my bag I wouldn’t have had such an EPIC fail.
Enjoy, and for goodness' sake, pack some pants!
What to wear during the latter stages of pregnancy:
Nikki C is wearing the 'Smoothie Crop Bra' in confetti/black, the 'Rise Up Tank' in sorbet and the 'Classic Maternity Leggings' in black.
During the last few weeks of pregnancy, things might start to get a bit uncomfortable. Even some of your ‘maternity’ clothing suddenly seems too tight, your boobs ache, your skin might be itchy from all the stretching...the list goes on. Experts agree now is the time to keep yourself comfortable and supported, put those high heels in a far, far away place, your pre-pregnancy (and perhaps even your maternity jeans) can take a hike (if they weren’t dismissed well before now!) and your cosy, stretchy and supportive pants, shorts or dresses should be given front row tickets.
Proud mother of Tyler, Dr. Caitlin Zietz is a healthcare practitioner with a primary focus on prenatal and postnatal care, so not only does she have a solid scientific and medical understanding of this time in a woman’s life, but she has also very much lived it herself!
Dr. Caitlin says wearing comfortable clothing is crucial for moms-to-be in their third trimester, for both their health and their convenience.
“With a baby growing rapidly and acquiring more room in the later stages of pregnancy, organs and soft tissue structures are having to adapt to an already limited amount of room. Therefore, comfortable, stretchy clothing is recommended. Something that allows a heavily pregnant woman to move freely. It’s also important to find a bra WITHOUT an underwire. The rib cage needs room to expand to adapt for the growing baby. Underwire bras can create more restrictions through the thoracic cage, which can increase discomfort (mid back and rib pain) and - in my personal case - result in heartburn due to lack of space!”
Cadenshae founder Nikki Clarke is a mother of five, so some would say she’s a bit of an ‘expert’ when it comes to pregnancy and labour. Here’s what Nikki wore during late pregnancy.
“I’d vary between super comfy loose clothing and supportive clothing. Some days I would wear Harem Pants as they’re soft and easy to wear, but on the days where I planned to exercise or was in a bit of pain, I’d throw on our Classic Leggings so my tummy had some support. I tried to wear supportive clothing as much as I could once I got to the second trimester to help with my round ligament pain.”
What to wear during labour:
Nikki C is ready for labour with her hospital bag and wearing the 'Everyday Bra' in black, the 'Casual Tank' in mint and the 'Harem Pants,' in black.
Once again, it’s all about comfort.
If you’re having a c-section, you’ll be required to wear a hospital gown, but if you’re labouring naturally, then it’s a good idea to wear loose, light and breathable fabrics as your body temperature will rise (you will be offered a hospital gown too, but you're not required to wear it). Your skin will also be extremely sensitive, so it’s smart to avoid any materials which could make you itch.
Registered Midwife Emily Woods says from a medical standpoint, a hospital gown is a great option as it’s designed to be able to easily access medical equipment, e.g I.V. lines etc., however it’s not compulsory.
“Any comfortable clothing is great, just obviously not your best items as birth is unpredictable and can get messy!”
“Natural fibres (silk, hemp, wool, linen, fine cotton) are preferred as they are highly absorbent, but you’ll also want to choose cool, breathable fabrics as the body does overheat during labour.”
Some women get so hot they go it in the nude! But, if you’d like to cover up a little bit and keep your larger breasts supported, wearing a nursing sports bra is a smart choice during the hours (or sometimes minutes!) of labour. If you’d prefer more coverage, then team your bra up with a breathable tank as your baby will still have easy access to your breasts with both items.
Studies suggest giving birth is the equivalent to running a marathon in terms of energy output, (and can actually result in similar injuries, but let’s not go there right now!) so it makes sense to wear a bra and/or clothing fit for exertion and perspiration. It makes even more sense to wear nursing friendly items as bubs will have direct access to their first meal upon arrival!
Also, Cadenshae’s range of nursing sports bras are designed to absorb liquid (primarily breast milk and sweat), so if you’re planning on having a water birth these bras are ideal for that too.
In regards to the nether regions, many women don’t wear anything while in labour as there’s often a lot happening and medical professionals need easy, quick access to examine the situation. However, for those who’re having a slow labour, breathable, loose and comfortable undies are great for the early stages.
What to wear directly postpartum:
Michelle is wearing the 'Scoop Tee' in lilac.
Congratulations! You’re a mama! This little moment in time is going to be shocking, amazing, overwhelming and a whole lot of other ‘feels!’ For a fair while you won’t be too worried about what you’re wearing, or not wearing! But once you’ve had a good cuddle, and your baby has had a drink, you’ll soon be craving a shower and a change of clothes.
“Straight after birth, the comfier clothes the better, yoga pants, pyjamas, track pants etc.” says midwife, Emily Woods.
“High waisted knickers (think granny pants) are perfect as they can hold a maternity pad and offer a bit of support for your now empty abdomen. If you end up with, or have a planned cesarean section it's really important that you wear underwear that doesn’t sit at the level of your scar, so high waisted is great. Now is not the time to wear your lacy g-string!”
Dr. Caitlin is all about the comfort factor downstairs too.
“After the baby is here, once again, it’s all about comfort, comfort, comfort...with a little belly support.”
“The organs slowly begin to find their way back to their pre-baby locations. The thoracic cage and bony pelvic structures that had widened to accommodate the baby, now feel very empty and unstable. This is due to the large amount of relaxin hormone that allows for increased mobility in the ligaments and joints. This hormone sticks around for a long time (some studies say the effects of relaxin last until a few months after breastfeeding ends). Therefore, instability issues can occur after the baby has arrived.”
“I LOVED the fold down belly-band on the Cadenshae leggings! It allowed my pelvis to feel a bit more stable and hold in my tummy as I healed and restored some core strength.”
That’s the bottom half of you sorted, but what about the torso?
“You’ll need a supportive bra, and that's really important whether you’re breastfeeding or not. If you are breastfeeding then maternity bras make life so much easier,” says midwife, Emily Woods.
Dr. Caitlin agrees.
“For the top half in early postpartum, nursing wear with easy access to improve your breastfeeding experience is essential. It is 100% WORTH IT to invest in good nursing gear (bras, t-shirts, tanks, hoodies etc.) that make you feel comfortable and confident. Ensure your bra does NOT have an underwire to allow for proper milk production and prevent blocked ducts. Cadenshae nursing bras are excellent for this.”
A few extra tips for postpartum:
1. Some women like to buy just one nursing bra before the birth, as they want to see how their breastfeeding journey goes, however many Cadenshae customers recommend a pregnant woman buy three nursing sports bras in anticipation of the birth and breastfeeding. One to wear while one is in the wash, and one spare for when you get spewed on! For those of you worried about wasting money on nursing sports bras when you’re not sure you can or even want to breastfeed, then the good news is Cadenshae nursing sports bras are designed to be worn during physical activity, whether you’re breastfeeding or not! They’re so supportive they work just as well for exercise as any of the other leading brands, so you’re never going to lose out really...plus of course if you DO decide to breastfeed, you’re sorted.
2. After giving birth, you’ll still have a tummy and look around five months pregnant (they don’t tell you that!) so you’ll want to hold onto those cosy hoodies, baggy t-shirts, loose pants etc. for a little while longer. However, keep those jeans AWAY...let your life-giving belly breathe a bit!
3. For those mothers who have a c-section, the Classic Maternity Leggings are especially designed to go below the scarline...so you can slip into these straight away if you wish...no painful rubbing!
4. A lot of women ask if it’s ‘safe’ to sleep in a nursing sports bra and of course it is, as long as it fits properly, and has no underwire.
5. No matter what you buy, just make sure your clothing postpartum washes easily, dries quickly, and of course is breastfeeding friendly if you choose to feed. You’ll be amazed at how often you will get spilled on, or your milk leaks onto your clothing, or to be honest, while you’re healing downstairs, there may be a few ‘whoopsie’ moments when the pad didn’t quite do its job. Get fit for purpose clothing so you don’t have to get around in awkward, unsupportive, pre-pregnancy clothes.
This time in a woman’s life is no doubt uncomfortable and extremely intense, but it’s also the most amazing and life-changing time too. What a ride you’re embarking on...go get em! (In your best big knickers and comfy pants of course)!
Written by Ellen Chisholm, in conjunction with Dr. Caitlin Zietz, Midwife - Emily Woods and Cadenshae founder - Nikki Clarke.