Thursday, 1 December 2011


1.       Control what you can.
There are times when I felt completely out of control of my own body. You go to your wardrobe for the fail-safe outfit that looks good every time and it won’t fit anymore or just looks bloody awful. At times like this dress simply and concentrate on the areas you do have control over: hair, make-up and nails. If you have shiny, glossy hair, flawless make-up and a good manicure you will at least give the appearance of being in control and it will just make you feel more like you. I put a lot of the compliments I received during my pregnancy down to polish rather than substance.
A note on hair; you may find you lose less hair when you are pregnant. My body seemed to hold on to everything for dear life as my little darlings stripped it of every last nutrient. My hair got much thicker and less easy to manage, and actually took ages after the birth to start falling out at its pre-pregnancy rate (i.e. blocking the plughole at every hair wash). My hair advice would be straighteners to make it look thinner and calmer, or embrace the volume and go wavy/curly/just plain big.
2.       Embrace your shape.
I got a fairly noticeable bump (well, to me and my husband anyway) at around 9 weeks. This wasn’t too much of a surprise as I already knew I was having twins, but the bump appearing before 12 weeks can be both a shock and a complete pain in the arse if you don’t want people to know yet. I had to really examine my work wardrobe during these weeks to find clothes that gave good coverage to the tummy area and were comfortable. Wearing dresses as tops worked quite well. I had a patterned dress that was particularly good as I could wear it over black maternity trousers and the pattern was a sort of optical illusion that disguised the bump. From the front at least. I also took to carrying a folder (empty) around the office with me so that I could strategically position it over my tummy when I was talking to colleagues at their desks. All that effort! I bet nobody even suspected, or if they did it certainly wasn’t worthy of the front page news I imagined it to be.
Of course the most comfortable clothes to wear are maternity clothes, but these make you look pregnant instantly so steer clear while you are keeping it on the down low. That said, I would get some maternity bits and pieces straight away and start wearing what you can to get your money’s worth. Shopping in places like New Look, Dorothy Perkins, H&M and online from ASOS means that you will probably buy a lot of reasonably priced things that don’t particularly look like maternity wear and that you can keep wearing after the birth. The best investment is a good pair of jeans; I bought mine from Benetton at 8 weeks and wore them right up until the day I went into labour. Jeans are brilliant as they make you feel like you are wearing normal clothes and they are really comfortable. If you are expecting twins or more buy a large size and you probably won’t be able to conceal the stretchy panel at the top of the jeans towards the end of your pregnancy, so wear longer tops if you can (although with a 48cm bump I couldn’t have cared less!).
 I suppose my general uniform was dresses with leggings which was comfortable and versatile. It meant that I could wear flip flops when my feet expanded in the summer and still look vaguely smart for work. Whatever you do make sure you are comfortable. I remember going to work in a knitted dress, tights and wedges on a foggy spring morning only for the fog to clear, the sun to come out and my feet to swell up. There will be days when you get home, strip off and angrily throw the offending constrictive item at your other half (because of course it’s his fault). Get comfortable pyjamas and always check the weather forecast.
As your body is changing so quickly it is really important to constantly re-evaluate your outfits as something that you felt brilliant in a week ago may now look less than fabulous. You will grow in spurts so dress in front of a full-length mirror and if you are wearing non-maternity clothes pay particular attention to the hemline as it will creep up at the front as your bump grows. I had a particularly lovely flowery dress that was my fall back for days when I was feeling less than fabulous, however until I caught sight of myself in an office window I hadn’t realised how short it had become at the front. As I was wearing hold-ups on this particularly memorable day this was not a good look...
OK: underwear. Traumatic as it may be you really need to wear a non-wired bra throughout your pregnancy. Blocked milk ducts at any point are not fun, especially after you give birth. As a member of the massive breast club I found even trying on non-wired bras a harrowing experience. I was used to bras that lifted, separated and made me feel secure. Non-wired ones were just a generic hammock affair with no support and no definition. I did in the end find some good ones (Marks and Spencer) and I just got used to how my boobs looked – flattened. When you are carting around a massive bump no one is going to be looking at your boobs anyway. Maternity knickers are comfortable and essential, as are maternity tights. Go with it.
Towards the end of my pregnancy I was struggling to find anything that still fitted. I even had to buy a pair of comfy boots a size bigger to accommodate my elephantine feet and ankles. As I was on maternity leave (and virtually housebound as I didn’t go out except for hospital appointments) clothes were no longer too much of a problem. I had a couple of pairs of jogging bottoms and some stretchy tops that saw me through. For going out the ubiquitous jeans replaced the sweats. I did carry on doing my hair and make-up for the most part as it just made me feel better about my confinement to catch a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror and not recoil in horror.

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