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Third Trimester Maternity Style: Staying Comfy

You’re in the homestretch, mama! You’ve made it through the first and second trimester with style. This trimester is all about feeling comfortable and fresh without looking sloppy.

And since you’ve been rocking this big-bellied look for awhile now, these last few months are all about keeping you inspired and making sure you’re taking care of yourself as you draw closer to your due date.

Lots of pre-pregnancy items will still work right through your third trimester, so try things from your own closet before you buy. Photo by Inhabitat via Flickr

Step #1 – Plan and Research: * Take stock of every item in your closet, even maternity items: Something that fit just a few days ago may suddenly be tight. Don’t get hung up on a size or whether an item is maternity or not — just look at the fit. I was personally shocked to notice my belly poking out of several maternity tops while tons of my non-maternity T-shirts still look just fine. You may need to do this more often as you grow and your baby changes position. * Plan out a comfortable post-baby wardrobe: Oh honey, we’re not done yet. It will take a few weeks or months until we get our pre-baby shapes back — and in the meantime, we still need to look fabulous. Go back to items you wore in your first trimester — they’ll flatter the curves of your post-baby body.

Dramatic jewelry is a fun way to add a little interest to your third trimester wardrobe. Photo by Julita B.C. via Flickr

Step #2 – Wear Items From Your Non-Maternity Wardrobe: * Wear anything from the first trimester list, provided that they still fit. * Try fun scarves, nail polish and hair accessories: If you’re doing your maternity shopping right, that means you’ve been wearing the same flattering, coordinated uniform for a couple of months now, and you may be ready to shake things up. Accessories are an easy way to do just that. * Experiment with a fresh make-up look: Pregnancy made me feel sleepy a lot, so I found myself reaching for eyeliner and bold lipstick much more than before. Wear what makes you feel good and don’t be afraid to experiment. * Rock a larger bag: Even if you’re petite, tiny clutches can suddenly look out of balance with your large belly. Now is also a good time to audition large totes for their new roles as diaper bags. * Add statement jewelry: Dramatic jewelry can distract attention from your blooming belly and add life to basic shirts and dresses. Choose pretty colors to draw attention to your face. *Layer with jackets, cardigans and vests:  You can downplay the visual expanse of a third trimester belly (especially as seen from the side) by adding a strategic layer on top. This layer should reach down past your hips and float over your body to downplay your belly’s swell and provide extra coverage if you’re self-conscious about your backside.

Invest in items that make you feel sexy and confident.  Bonus points if you can wear them after baby as well. Photo by Dan Ox via Flickr

Step #3 – Buy Strategically: * Pregnancy support tights, socks or a support girdle if you need them: These are not horribly unattractive as they sound. Purchase tights and socks in colors that compliment your existing wardrobe. And if your back is killing you, function beats fashion — always. I swore I wouldn’t wear an ugly back brace, but I had to suck it up and invest in a Gabrialla support belt that I could wear under my clothes and it was a lifesaver from week 32 onward. * A facial/manicure/pedicure/pregnancy massage: I can hear you right now, protesting that this isn’t really something that you need. But I beg to differ. There are a million changes going on right now. You probably want to lie down anyway, so you might as well have a good time doing it. And taking care of yourself is a good habit to get into so you can keep it up when the little one arrives. * Cute nightwear: Chances are you grew out of your cute underthings a while ago and now you’re stuck in oversized T-shirts and comfy pants. Sometimes, a girl’s just got to feel like a girl. Just make sure you get something you can wear through your final months and after baby arrives, too. * Shoes in a larger size, if necessary: If your shoes are too small, you shouldn’t be wearing them — period. Don’t agonize over a number — just buy a couple of basic pairs that fit the feet you have now (cute ballet flats or flat sandals usually work) and coordinate with the rest of your wardrobe. * A nursing wardrobe: If your planning and research session revealed that you’re a little low on V-neck, nursing and easy access tops, now is a great time to stock up. Ditto for a comfortable nursing bra with a lot of stretch and support. You really only need a couple to start out — once your milk comes in, you’ll want to go to a professional for the best possible fit.

Wear jackets and cardigans open for warmth, layering possibilities and to minimize the visual impact of your belly. Photo by Danny Cain of via Flickr

Step #4 – Wear These Items Now, Then Pack Them Away: * Anything that isn’t completely and totally comfortable: If it doesn’t feel good at the start of this trimester, you won’t even look at it by the end. * Anything that you can’t wear in at least two combinations: That cute skirt was a great part of your maternity uniform…until you outgrew the tops that went with it. Don’t beat yourself up — sometimes, despite our best laid plans, not every outfit goes the distance. * Anything shabby or ill-fitting, no matter how comfortable it is: It can be very, very tempting to make comfort a crutch in late pregnancy. So if you find yourself falling back on the tattered T-shirt that all your sorority sisters made into cleaning rags years ago or the “don’t touch me” sweatpants that make your partner shudder, it’s time to update. If they looked trashy before, they’ll look even worse during pregnancy.

Comfort doesn’t have to look sloppy! Photo by Lululemon Athletica via Flickr

You can find a comfortable, clean, flattering version of your favorites styles. Just because you feel big and blah, doesn’t mean that you have to look like it.

And no matter how you feel, remember this: You are a beautiful woman whose body is doing the very hard work of growing a new little life. You owe it to yourself and to that new little baby to take pride in yourself, your body and what it can do, even when it’s easier not to. Your body is amazing and should be celebrated.

This is something that’s very fresh in my mind, since I’m writing this to you as my new little boy sleeps upstairs. His name is Eli and he’s already worth every single moment of the discomfort and strangeness of pregnancy.

I wish you all good luck with the rest of your pregnancies and your new little ones!

What about you? How has your pregnancy made you feel? What’s most comfortable for you at this stage? What additional tips and tricks can you offer, both styling tips and sanity savers?

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