Ask any expectant woman how she feels when she looks in the mirror and chances are she will tell you that she feels exhausted, bloated and probably a little fed up. She might, possibly, feel as though she is 'blooming' at times, but the massive changes that occur during pregnancy quite often have the opposite effect when it comes to outwardly appearances.
With all control over our bodies relinquished for nine months, what we wear while we're expecting can become a bit of a minefield. As these changes take place, many women find that jogging bottoms and baggy t-shirts are suddenly very appealing. But what does dressing down in this way do to our self-esteem at a time when we really could do with a little boost? How can we feel sexy or desirable if we're wearing our partner's old gardening shirt and a pair of over-sized leggings? Pregnancy hormones are pretty powerful, so making an effort with your wardrobe might just be the way to restore a little spring to your step.
During my first pregnancy, I struggled to find maternity clothes that I liked. I was only 26 and felt too young for most of the 'smock-type' clothes I was seeing on the high street. I did find that Dorothy Perkins had a few bits and bobs and I returned to this shop during my second pregnancy too. For much of my pregnancy though, I lived in over sized t-shirts and jogging bottoms. Not a good look.
By the time I fell pregnant with my second child, the high street seemed to have cottoned on to the fact that women wanted stylish and affordable maternity wear. Top Shop, New Look, H&M and River Island now all have fantastic maternity wear ranges which meant that I was finally able to carry on dressing like me, despite the bump. H&M are one of the best, in my opinion, because some of their tops double up as nursing tops too, which means you can carry on wearing them once the baby is born.
Online shopping has also become a pregnant woman's best friend when it comes to maternity wear. The well established labels such as Isabella Oliver and Seraphine have some beautiful items, especially evening dresses and work wear, but their prices are a little higher than average. I found that during my third pregnancy, ASOS was one site which consistently offered stylish, comfortable clothes at reasonable prices. They often hold mid season sales too, which are worth looking out for.
So, with the high street finally competing with the longer standing online clothing companies, which are the best labels for creating a stylish maternity wardrobe? I have to say that Mamas and Papas have certainly snatched a corner of this market with both online and in-store shopping a pleasurable experience. I also recently discovered Bundle-o-Joy, unique maternity wear specialists who mix and match different labels into bundles for you. Through them, I discovered Crave, who not only produce some wonderfully basic items such as tops and skirts, but also pride themselves on creating beautiful and practical nursing tops too. This is one label I still regularly buy from now that my daughter is three months old.
Shopping for maternity wear can certainly be a bit of a mixed bag. You only need maternity clothes for such a relatively short time and yet each pregnancy seems to last forever when you can't find anything that looks nice or feels comfortable. It's definitely worth investing in a few key pieces to see you through to the end of the pregnancy, especially if you are working. I found that the high street stores were the perfect places to but casual wear, such as jeans, bump bands and tops. For more formal work wear items, I turned to online stores and found that I was able to buy some original looking pieces which were well within my budget.
The key to creating a stylish maternity wardrobe is to shop around. There are so many more maternity labels out there these days that the choices are plentiful- there is absolutely no reason why you can't look great.