You’re pregnant? Congratulations! For soon-to-be moms, this is a very special time as you anticipate motherhood, do everything that you can to keep healthy and protect your unborn child, and of course, prepare for birth. For eco-conscious expecting moms, the pressure is double as you strive to continue making ethical and sustainable choices while your bump grows.
There is now a rising number of stores that sell sustainable maternity clothes and help pregnant women build eco-friendly maternity wardrobes. In fact, one of our most popular articles is the one about online shops that specialize in ethical and sustainable maternity wear. But, let’s face it, pregnancy is only for nine months. It’s not practical to really invest in maternity clothes that you either have to stuff inside your closet or discard after giving birth. This goes against the grain of sustainable thinking, right?
As such, this post aims to guide you on how to survive nine months of pregnancy without necessarily adding more to your carbon footprint. So how to start? I certainly hope that these tips can help you out.
Tip #1: Make an inventory of your wardrobe.
I’m certain you have plenty of clothes in your wardrobe that can be repurposed for your journey as a soon-to-be mom. Look for oversized and stretchable shirts (even boyfriend shirts), empire-cut and wrap dresses, tunics, leggings, sweatshirts, cardigans, and more. You may be surprised at how much you can actually unearth that will fit your changing body and growing baby bump.
Some of your existing billowy dresses or those with an empire cut can be used until you are about six months along or more. If not, you can try experimenting with layering. Remember that a dress will get shorter as your baby bump gets bigger. You may want to try layering with stretchable jeans or leggings underneath your dress.
I found a wonderful tutorial for repurposing stretchable fabrics from old blouses into belly bands. This will enable you to wear your existing non-maternity clothes throughout your pregnancy. Check out the tutorial here from A Beautiful Mess.
Tip #2: Source maternity clothes from friends and family.
It’s super exciting expecting the arrival of a new baby. Family and friends are happy for you and want to lend their support. Why not lean on them and see if any of them would be willing to share their old maternity clothes with you. Be open to what they can share. Perhaps make a fun day of it and host a moms’ day with your friends and family as you model the clothes that they bring. This is also a great way of mixing and matching certain items according to your style and learning what items you really need or don’t need.
Alternatively, you can learn to sew and create DIY maternity clothes. You can adjust any items that were given to you and you can even upcycle and repurpose non-maternity wear. Check out this DIY Maternity website which shares awesome tips, tutorials and sewing patterns. It can be a stressful time expecting a child, but it needn’t be if you remember to enjoy the journey to sourcing and making chic and fashionable maternity wear.
Tip #3: Check out second-hand stores, eBay or car boot sales.
Of course, not everything can be found in your closet or can be provided by family and friends. If you really have to buy, why not start with sourcing from second-hand stores? It’s a more sustainable option and you spend the fraction of the price that you would normally on new items.
Eco-conscious mom Wendy Graham of Moral Fibres shares on her blog how she used to scour maternity clothes on eBay, “where people are selling their maternity clothing in bulk packages.” She frequented car boot sales in the UK where people sold pre-loved items and saw maternity clothes selling for as low as £1 to £2 (US$1.39 to US$2.77).
Tip #4: Buy only what you need and choose materials that are of high-quality.
It goes without saying that there comes a time in your pregnancy when you really need to purchase something new. There are a few items that most women will look into buying brand new — maternity bras, activewear and trousers or jeans.
Where to find ethical and sustainable maternity bras and tops
For maternity bras, check out Boob Design. This company produces not just high-quality and sustainable maternity wear but ethical too. They put high premium on ensuring that their suppliers adhere to environmental and social responsibility standards and even have their own Code of Conduct.
Top Secret Maternity is also another highly recommended ethical brand. It is accredited by the Ethical Clothing Australia and offers bras that can be used from pregnancy to nursing, with adjustable bra straps, maximum breast support and even a privacy layer that can serve as a breast cover while feeding.
Where to find ethical maternity jeans and clothing
Maternity pants and jeans are also must-buys as they’re comfortable and you’ll be spending lots of relaxation time in them. Choose a pair or two in solid neutral colors that can go with any top and shoes. For jeans and other maternity clothes, check out the following retailers:
Queen Bee Maternity – An Australian marketplace for stylish maternity wear that ships worldwide. While the items stocked aren’t entirely made sustainably and ethically, Queen Bee Maternity do stock brands that manufacture responsibly and use organic fabrics and natural materials such as Legoe Heritage, an Australian premium maternity clothing label.
JoJo Maman Bébé – This is a UK-based B-Corp certified company that has a wide selection of maternity clothing — from dresses to tops, jumpers and knits, coats and jackets, leggings, trousers and more. It is technically a one-stop shop for eco-conscious mothers.
People Tree – While not primarily a maternity clothing provider, ethical fashion brand People Tree has plenty of loose-fitting clothes and garments made from stretchable fabrics that can substitute as maternity wear. If you love a particular style, buy a bigger size to fit. People Tree, founded by ethical and sustainable fashion pioneer Safia Minney, is also the first fashion label to receive the esteemed Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certification.
Bamboo Baby – This is an Australian-based company that offers an organic clothing range made of bamboo fabric. While not strictly maternity wear, the bamboo clothes are silky-smooth, light-weight and loose-fitting, perfect for the changing shape of a pregnant woman. The bamboo fabric is environmentally-friendly as it is very easy to grow bamboo without the use of chemicals, the fibres are lightweight, soft, smooth, and breathable.
How many maternity fashion items to buy, you’re wondering? Wendy Graham of Moral Fibres suggests “five days worth of clothing (so you don’t get completely sick of wearing the exact same things over and over again).” This tip is echoed by some sustainably-minded moms I know. Just don’t forget to source or buy basic pieces in neutral colors that are versatile and can be mixed and matched. You can then use scarves and accessories to update or change your look.
Tip #5: Maximize your maternity wear purchases and choose clothes that are also suitable for nursing.
As environmentally-conscious moms, I’m sure you’re already thinking of how to extend the longevity of your maternity clothes. When you purchase, think of how you can use or repurpose your clothes for nursing. This will add about a year more to the lifespan of your clothes.
In the meantime, I wish you all the best on your pregnancy journey and if you have other helpful advice for soon-to-be mothers, feel free to share them below.
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Title image of Ticking Stripe Maternity Dress from JoJo Maman Bébé