Maternity Fashion – Just Another Pressure for Mothers?

Sometimes it seems as if mothers-to-be must not only eat and drink all the right things and have nothing but positive thoughts about their pregnancy, but they must also look right too. What a lot of pressure!

It is hard to say when pregnancy became a fashion show. Perhaps we should blame the advertising drives aimed at the pregnant women of the 1950s, or perhaps we should attribute the phenomenon to Instagram and its seemingly endless photographs of celebrities such as Zara Tindall, Beyoncé and Meghan Markle looking chic in their designer maternity wear.

Now a new study by maternity clothing company Isabella Oliver has revealed that maternity chic comes at a cost, with mothers-to-be spending an average of £700 on maternity garments throughout the course of their pregnancy. This comes despite the fact that maternity clothing is worn for an average of only 16 weeks (including the postpartum period).

Some of the most popular maternity items include the following:

  • Jeans
  • Underwear
  • Evening dresses
  • Blouses

Leaving aside the environmental concerns of needlessly splurging on maternity “fast fashion”, there is the pure question of cost. According to the Money Advice Service, it costs up to £187,000 to raise a child up to the age of 18 and this begins right from the start with parents needing to buy cots, car seats, prams and more. Why then go and unnecessarily spend hundreds of pounds on maternity wear that will be discarded after just a few wears?

There must be another way

Unfortunately, the study revealed that of the average of 21 maternity items worn by new mothers, only three were second-hand. The good news, however, is that there is plenty of free and cheap second-hand maternity wear available, and because it is not likely to have been worn more than a few times over a 16-week period, it is likely to be in great condition. The trick, however, is finding enough second-hand items to ensure your maternity-wear spend is kept to a minimum.

The Isabella Oliver survey reports that more than one in four mothers pass their maternity clothes onto friends, family or community, while a further three in 10 give theirs to charity. Automatically, this means that if you make the right connections and ask the people around you, you can probably pick enough items up to ensure that you are sufficiently covered during the course of your pregnancy – just don’t become one of the one in ten who throw their maternity clothing away.

For those most difficult to find items – for example, casual, work and special occasion wear – it really helps to ask around; try online community notice boards and think creatively when visiting charity shops or staring at your existing wardrobe.

Of course, if you have the money and feel strongly that a bit of wardrobe therapy will pep you up, there is no harm in buying yourself something special to wear during your pregnancy, just aim for quality and be sure to pass it on once you have finished with it!