What should you wear to work after maternity leave? We got an email a while ago from a reader who posed this interesting question. What is the “safest” choice to make so you look like a rational person who is not a sleep-deprived emotional wreck? Which clothes are best if you’re pumping at work? What will fit? These are my tips (and reasons) for what to wear to work after maternity leave, but I’m interested to hear what readers say also. (Psst: you may also want to check out the readers’ and my general tips for returning to work after maternity leave!)
Here’s a fun question for you guys: what would you tell new moms NOT to buy? What did you buy that was a waste of money or a mistake for your family? For me, the big answer to this question is a fancy diaper bag — I now advise all of my friends to NOT buy a fancy diaper bag when they find out they’re pregnant.
(Pictured: a lovely $1400 Burberry diaper bag to consider if you don’t want to listen to this advice!)
All of my friends and I made this mistake: the second we found out we were pregnant we started looking for fancy diaper bags. Resist the urge to do this! At least until after the kiddo is born and you’ve been using a diaper bag for a little bit of time and have a better sense of your needs (and the level of grossness that often comes with babies). For example, the one that I bought (a very nice Rebecca Minkoff one that’s still available) I ended up hating, because I didn’t want a two-handled tote bag — one handle would fall off my shoulders, and I felt like the whole thing threw my balance off further, particularly if I was babywearing. It also didn’t fit neatly over the stroller handles (or underneath in the basket) — in short, I used it about three times.
Ladies, here’s a fun open thread for today: how did you lose the baby weight? If you haven’t yet (but have tried), what do you think the reason is? Have you discovered any new great recipes or workouts you love along the way?
For my $.02, I’m still struggling, I guess with weight that I originally put on when I was pregnant with my first (who was born in August 2011, so, uh, it’s technically still baby weight, right?). I did everything to lose weight after J was born — being in a new body at the same time I was going through my postpartum identity crisis seemed like adding insult to injury.
I finally got into a good groove right around the time we got pregnant with my second, H. During my first trimester, J was just starting a new “school year” at his daycare, and I caught at least two stomach bugs from him. As a result, I actually lost about 10 pounds during those few months. My doctors said not to worry, one telling me cheerfully, “You have a very efficient little parasite in there!” I was already so overweight that minimal weight gain during my pregnancy was the goal anyway. I gained 20 pounds after that point — before delivering a 10 pound, 2 oz. baby. After H, I fell into a good weight training regimen and lost more weight — then hit a stressful patch last summer and gained a ton of it back… and then tore my ACL on vacation in November, which at least put the focus on food.
Going back even further than THAT, though, I had lost/maintained a healthy weight for years when I was in BigLaw — but when I left my firm (ending my nightly healthyish Seamless dinners for 1) and got married, and started drinking a glass of wine (or more) with dinner most nights, that was when the real weight creep started. I never really found my “healthy” groove, if that makes sense.
In the few years that I’ve been paying attention to nursing stuff (both personally as well as for the blog), I’ve seen the same companies over and over again. I thought it might be fun to round them up for new moms who are searching for nursing clothes and unsure if that BabySteals or Zulily deal is worth it, or trying to gauge the quality of a brand in a local maternity shop, or experimenting with what kind of nursing access works best.
Personally, my consistent favorites were shirts that lift up, either with partial panels or entire second front layers — they kept my tummy covered while providing some coverage for my breast. The biggest hits and misses came from a second category that kind of overlaps with the first that I’ll call the “secret panel” access, like the red top below. Depending on how the cutout hits you and your bust, it could be great — or horrible. Finally, my least favorite were the types that pulled down — the pro here is that there’s very easy access, but the con is that the top of your breast is totally exposed. (For some reason, the phrase “whip it out” kept coming to mind whenever I used one of these tops!!!) There are still other tops with different sorts of nursing access, like the secret zippered panel brands like Loyal Hana offer. Most of the serious maternity shops (like the excellent Figure8 Maternity) focus on the first two types. Ladies, which kind of nursing access did you like best? What were your favorite brands for nursing-friendly workwear?
I recently found an old thread on Corporette where readers were raving about these “period undies.” (Thinx is another similar brand.) I just placed my first order and haven’t, er, tried them out yet, but according to the website, they’ll hold from 1-3 teaspoons of liquid (depending on the style) and can be rinsed, then machine washed/tumble dried. Obviously, don’t try to wear these things for the 4-8 weeks postpartum — but if your postpartum life includes issues from unpredictable periods to fear of leaks, these undies could help. They’re $32-$48 per undie and go up to size 3x, and it’s pretty easy to get a 20%-off code if you sign up for the mailing list. They also offer free U.S. shipping. Dear Kate Underlux Underwear
Here’s a question Kate and I were just discussing (and I believe the readers were yesterday as well): at a certain point, have you found yourself buying brands for yourself that you would have previously considered “mom brands,” either out of convenience (like if you’re already buying your kids’ clothing at the store), a lack of patience for delicate-care clothing, or the desire for a more forgiving cut than you wore prior to kids? Do you seek out brands where the in-person shopping experience is best suited for moms, like the Evereve stores (here’s an interesting Inc. article about them)?
Let’s face it, Lands’ End, J.Jill, Eddie Bauer — these are not usually the brands the stylish 20-something wears. In their marketing, the companies even try to brand themselves as mom brands, using models who are past their 20s (some even, gasp, with gray hair) and who have medium-sized and actually plus-sized bodies. I always think of the ill-fated Jones New York as the classic example here (although I did wear a ton of their clothes in my 20s), but I used to love the model they used on their site because she was pretty but medium-sized, with a much boxier, almost athletic build than you see on most models. So let’s hear it: Which brands have you recently tried, or tried again? Which do you like? Which brand used to be in the “mom brand” camp but is now crossing over — for example, Talbots has made huge strides lately to getting more fashionable clothes and cuts in.