When Mat and I found out we were pregnant with our first child, I started thinking about how I would navigate the world of parenthood while still working toward our goal to reduce our environmental impact. The most immediate problem I had to face was how to find clothes to wear as my body began to change to make room for a growing baby, without spending too much money or significantly increasing my carbon footprint.
Fortunately, I found that I ended up needing much less than I initially thought, and by making some conscious choices, I was able to find what I needed without relying too much on fast-fashion maternity brands. So below are my best tips for getting through pregnancy without abandoning your values or low-waste goals.
Extend your existing wardrobe.
Though I know the temptation can be great, try not to rush out and buy a bunch of maternity clothes the minute you find out you’re pregnant. Especially if this is your first baby, you won’t start to show for quite a while, and you may find that you can carry on wearing your pre-pregnancy clothes for many weeks before they become too snug.
Investing in a waistband extender and a couple of stretchy bump bands can extend the life of your pre-pregnancy clothes well into your second trimester. I wore most of my pre-pregnancy trousers and jeans well into my pregnancy by using a waistband extender and covering the front opening with a bump band. Towards the end of my second trimester, I picked up a couple pairs of second hand maternity jeans, which were a bit more accommodating of my changing shape.
Tees and Jumpers
Most of my tees and jumpers fit perfectly fine until my third trimester as well, and some of them saw me through my entire pregnancy. As my bump grew, some of the hems crept upwards in the front, but I mitigated this by wearing a bump band underneath, and I supplemented with a handful of second hand tees and jumpers.
You may find you need a bra extender, to make your normal bras a bit more comfortable until you truly need a bigger size. I removed the eyelets from an old bra and stitched them onto a bra that was starting to be a little too tight, to give me some extra breathing room, and this worked just fine. When I found that I needed a more comfortable bra without a wire, I went straight into nursing bras, which I got second hand.
Though I was pregnant through the winter, I found that I didn’t need to buy any additional outerwear in pregnancy, as many of my jackets were roomy enough to fit over my bump, and I got by the rest of the time by borrowing from my husband.
Shop second hand.
Because there’s such a short period during pregnancy when you actually need maternity clothes, most second-hand maternity clothes have very little wear to them and are in very good condition. There are loads to be found on eBay, Facebook marketplace, and from friends who have recently had babies.
I bought a handful of pieces on eBay (you can filter items by condition, and shop only used items), which saw me through my entire pregnancy, and which cost me just a few pounds each.
A friend also gave me three nursing bras, which I started wearing as soon as I could no longer stand my normal bras, and which will see me through nursing my little one.
When buying new, choose ethically-made pieces and wear them often.
If you just really want to buy yourself a special piece for your pregnancy, go with sustainable brands. I splurged on these trousers from Boob design, which are made of sustainable lyocell. They are dang comfortable, and I’ve worn them a zillion times and will keep them for postpartum and subsequent pregnancies.
Keep the fast-fashion purchases to a minimum.
I confess I fell prey to the low prices and convenience of fast fashion a couple of times during my pregnancy. When I needed more comfortable underwear, I went with some cotton briefs from H&M’s conscious collection. I also picked up a pair of H&M maternity tights to go with a second-hand maternity dress, and a pair of H&M leggings, which I’ve worn absolutely to death. I tried to avoid fast-fashion in my pregnancy, but alas on a couple of occasions price and convenience won, so my recourse is to wear the items I bought as many times as possible, and to pass them on to someone else or recycle them responsibly when they reach the end of their usefulness.
Consider how much you really need.
By investing in a few key maternity pieces, and continuing to wear the non-maternity clothes that still fit over your bump, you can get through your whole pregnancy without really buying too much.
The sum total of pieces I bought, made, or was given during my pregnancy:
1 maternity dress
1 maternity romper
1 lightweight maternity jumper
4 jersey maternity tops
3 nursing bras
1 bra extender
If you think you may have another pregnancy in the future, hang on to the pieces you’ve acquired, so you’ll be all set for the next time around. And if you’re done having children, resell your maternity pieces, give them to a friend who needs them, or donate them to a charity shop.
Wishing you a very happy, healthy, low-waste pregnancy!