When we entered quarantine in New York, no one knew I was pregnant. We’d lost a baby the year before, and I wanted to feel a little more certain that everything was going well before telling friends and family. Once we got the all-clear in the spring, I started to share the news over Zoom and FaceTime, screenshotting the joyful reactions for posterity.
Given the circumstances, this obviously has not been the pregnancy I’d expected—most of my prenatal appointments were cancelled, understandably, as the virus surged in New York and hospitals struggled to keep up. In the early days, it was hard to find conclusive information on the effect of COVID-19 on unborn babies. I knew pregnancy qualified as a compromised immune system, so I’ve erred on the side of caution, only leaving the house to buy groceries and other essentials, and, most recently, to protest.
Virtually all communication with family, friends, and my midwife became digital, and I missed connecting with other pregnant women as I had in the prenatal exercise classes I’d been attending pre-quarantine. Instead, I noticed my Saved folder on Instagram filling up with images of other pregnant women as I subconsciously surrounded my digital self with other women simultaneously sharing this experience.
As evidence seems to indicate the relative safety of spending short bursts of time outside, kind friends have stopped by my stoop for a socially-distant, mutually-masked visit and I’ve been venturing out for fresh air a little more. I’m in my third trimester now and starting to feel a little sentimental about this experience coming to an end. In these new expeditions outside, I’ve been trying to dress in a way that celebrates my changing body, to memorialize this fleeting moment.
When “Whatever You Want” week presented the opportunity to reach out to the women in my Saved folder (some of whom I know IRL and some I have only admired from afar), I jumped at the chance to ask for advice on how they’d approached pregnancy dressing. Scroll down to meet some of the mums who have inspired me from a cool, social distance during the past seven months, and to hear what’s worked for them.
Regina Adewunmi, a.k.a. Reggie
Reggie is a wife, vibe curator, and birth doula born, raised, and currently living in Long Island, New York. She’s most passionate about women’s health and enjoys facilitating conversation around periods, sex, and birth over on Tacos Tequila + Tampons.
What was your favorite pregnancy look? I’ve been living in dresses my entire pregnancy! I usually go for a simple, below-the-knee smock or shift dress. Dresses have been perfect for the frequent trips to the toilet and for midwife appointments (easy access!).
Any tips for pregnant dressing in the summer heat? Being a plus-sized pregnant person, it’s almost impossible to find “maternity clothes” in my size, so my solution for summer pregnancy wear is going up a size or two in cotton materials. You tend to sweat more often when pregnant, so I find sticking to airy fabrics is the best way to stay dry and comfortable.
Djuna Bel is a wardrobe stylist who currently resides in Los Angeles, California with her husband Nikolai Haas, their son Fox, and their cat named David.
What was your favorite pregnancy look? Judging by the majority of the photos I have, I spent a lot of my pregnancy in a bikini. When I was clothed, my go-to pregnancy looks were slip dresses and wrap dresses: I needed easy access pieces that would grow with my belly. I also didn’t like the feeling of anything tight on my belly, so jeans and leggings were generally out of the picture.
Any tips for pregnant dressing? I didn’t want disposable pregnancy clothes—I wanted to use what I had in my wardrobe and invest in pieces that I could continue to wear when I breastfed (wrap dresses are so ideal).
Ida Polnaija-Kakisina is a 30-year-old Moluccan woman and happy wife in Breukelen, the Netherlands. She’s sometimes a model, and always a fashion lover and a full-time superhero to her one-year-old twins and three-year-old toddler.
What was your favorite pregnancy look? Oversized dresses, even though I never wear dresses in regular life… but I was pregnant with twins. I wanted to walk naked all day every day, ‘cause wearing two babies was already uncomfortable enough, but I couldn’t, so, dresses.
Any tips for pregnant dressing in the summer heat? Loose-fitting clothing with coverage for your legs and arms so the sun doesn’t touch your bare skin, but with material that lets your skin breathe.
What was your favorite pregnancy look? I wore this MNZ bodycon dress nonstop throughout my pregnancy. With sneakers and a tee underneath or dressed up with heels, it was a workhorse. [In the photo at the top of this story], I’m wearing a Priscavera silk slip dress that felt like heaven, so light and airy on my heavy belly. You could see baby kicks and punches through it.
Any tips for pregnant dressing? I bought some maternity basics, but they felt drab and I only ever wore the leggings. I wanted to wear special clothing to honor and celebrate my body in such a magical state. If we are nuts enough to do it again, I’ll invest in a few new pieces I really love from designers I want to support (that happen to work for pregnant bellies) and build around those.
Sydney Porter is a model, mom, and advocate for fearless and empowered birth in North Georgia.
What was your favorite pregnancy look? My style during pregnancy varied so much. For the most part, I stuck to my free-spirited roots and let my bump be seen as much as possible! In the warmer months of my pregnancy, I wore crop tops, sustainable swimsuits, and long, flowing dresses 24/7.
Any tips for pregnant dressing in the cooler months? What really saved me during the cold was having some really versatile maternity basics that I could layer as well as mix and match. I highly recommend investing in a few bump-friendly pieces that you really love. For me, jumpsuits were my go-to!
Linda Bui has worked in beauty for almost a decade, specifically in operations, supply chain and data management—she can help you get any lipstick made in an efficient and timely manner. She also has a creative project working with ceramics and florals called ma dam, arranging flowers in handmade ceramic pieces.
What was your favorite pregnancy look? It’s funny because I’m unsure if I would have worn this dress before I was pregnant, but when I had more of a bump, I had an urge to show off my body more. I mean, this Marcia dress is sickn’ing!
Any tips for pregnant dressing? Maternity wear was a no-go for me. I refused to purchase any clothing that I couldn’t wear again after my pregnancy. I always try to be very conscious of my purchases whether I’m pregnant or not, only investing in pieces I love and in designers that I want to support. It also helps if that piece makes me feel good about myself, especially when my body was changing. Clothing that made me feel bump-positive was a must. Honestly, any clothing that makes you feel good is a must, no matter what shape your body is.
What’s your favorite pregnancy look? I mostly wear vintage dresses, caftans, nightgowns, and slips. When it gets cooler, I’ll wear knit pants with men’s shirts or sweater-dresses. Aside from workout leggings and one-size-fits-all undies, I don’t buy new clothes for pregnancy. When my jeans finally fit again, it feels like having a brand-new wardrobe!
Any tips for pregnant dressing? Slip-on shoes. These were a must for my early months of motherhood as well, when I was often wearing my son as I walked out the door. Easy on, easy off!
What was your favorite pregnancy look? Especially with the hot weather, I recommend comfortable dresses that can grow with you.
Any other tips for pregnant dressing? I didn’t want to buy any maternity clothes, so making sure I had comfortable dresses with either the ability to stretch or hang really loose has been a lifesaver. What I love most is I can wear these same dresses again once the baby is here as well.
Synmia Rosine is a mother, lover, food grower and herbalist in Los Angeles, California. She’s a facilitator in Ancestral medicine, “‘cause no one can heal you better than you can heal yourself.”
What was your favorite pregnancy look? My favorite pregnancy look includes oversized workwear pants worn with any top that’ll allow my stomach to breathe. Both of my pregnancies were during the summer, and it’s too hot to be self-conscious about your belly being exposed. I had so many folx staring or giving me the shifty eye—I loved it! We need to see more bellies to normalize pregnancy as a beautiful journey!
Any tips for pregnant dressing? I never got into maternity wear. For me, it was a waste of money, most likely bad for the environment, and there aren’t maternity brands I really like. When we could thrift, thrifting for looks to match my growing belly was my favorite pastime. My go-to cozy looks are: workwear overalls and a tank, XL trousers, a silky pajama set, or a muumuu for those extra hot days.