I would like to issue a formal apology to all pregnant women across this great nation.
On Feb. 16th, 2017, I, Jessica Shaia Cruickshank, strapped on a prosthetic belly and hosted a maternity fashion segment on my daytime show The Goods called “Dressing Your Bump.” I gave tips and advice to pregnant women without knowing what it was actually like to be pregnant.
Months later, I find myself pregnant with twins, spread eagle in my bed, wearing large cotton underpants and an oversized T-shirt, with a jelly donut in one hand and a laptop in the other, as I type this earnest plea for a second chance.
Friends, expectant mothers, pregnant compatriots, please allow me to retract my unintentional lies and present some newfound wisdom on ‘Dressing Your Bump’, now that I have a rather large bump to dress.
Lie #1: You don’t have to buy maternity clothes
I really wanted to believe this. When you’re pregnant you’re suddenly panicked about paying for cribs and diapers, childcare, and college. The last thing you want to spend your hard-earned money on is a sturdy pair of control-top maternity pants.
But my dream of waltzing through pregnancy in my skinny jeans and a few flowing tops was thwarted by Week 12. Turns out, a cute little belly doesn’t just grow on top of your regular body, EVERYTHING GROWS. ALL. OVER. YOUR. BODY. From your cheeks to your arms to your rib cage, butt, thighs, hips, ankles, toes, and fingers. (FYI: My fingers are currently oozing out the sides of my rings as I type.)
The moment I realized that no amount of tugging, contorting, crying or swearing was going to get the zipper up on my dress or the fly up on my jeans, was the moment I surrendered to maternity clothes. And I haven’t looked back.
The good news is, maternity clothes have come a long way since our mother’s floral muumuus. And you don’t have to dip into your unborn child’s college fund to acquire a few great pieces. I say pick up one pair of Maternity Jeans (Carry Maternity has my faves), a couple of cute tops (I love the blouses from ASOS Maternity), and one requisite boho-style, “I’m blooming with life and ready to run pregnant and barefoot through a field of blossoming daisies” dress. (I have one from hatchgal that makes me feel straight-up ethereal).
By adding a few actual maternity pieces to your wardrobe, you’ll always have something that fits and adapts to your changing body. Plus, you’ll feel more like a beautiful pregnant woman and less like an over-stuffed sausage.
Lie #2: Wear oversized clothes on your oversized body
You want to look like you are with child, not with burritos, and covering your bump with anything too shapeless or oversized is going to result in a lot of hesitant ‘congratulations?????’
So I say flaunt the bump! Bust out the belly! Unveil the uterus! When I found out I was pregnant, I cried tears of joy, ate an entire medium pizza, then bought myself 5 stretchy dresses. A good lycra knee-length number will always stretch over your growing bump, you can find them in the mall for under $20 and most importantly, this is the only time in life you can freely wear a tight dress without sucking in. So let that baby hang out and enjoy!
Lie #3: Wear high heels
I had clearly been keeping up with the Kardashians a little too closely when I suggested this.
I had seen Kim, balancing her pregnant body on 6-inch Louboutins for 9 months and figured if she can do it, so can we, right?!? WRONG.
Upon further inspection, I now realize that in most photographs, Kim Kardashian is walking no more than 7-feet from any given location to an awaiting SUV. And even that makes her pregnant feet look like THIS:
To be clear, I am not foot-shaming, just choice-shaming. Choosing to wear massively high heels, especially in your last trimester is not just uncomfortable, it’s borderline unsafe.
For my birthday dinner, I INSISTED on wearing my favorite Jimmy Choo booties with a VERY tight dress.
My husband dropped me off at the restaurant Kardashian-style (except in a 2007 Prius) and pleaded for me to “be careful!” I rolled my eyes, flipped my hair, and basked in the glory of feeling like my glamorous-self again. Then, I walked into a pole, tripped over a dog tied to the aforementioned pole, and almost landed flat on my babies. All I’m saying is your sense of balance is off when you have 20lbs hanging off of your midsection and I’m very lucky there were no paparazzi around.
Lie #4: Keep it simple
Sure, your expanding womb makes for an adorable accessory, but the more I start to feel bloated and matronly, the more a jaunty accessory cheers me up.
Layer on a few great necklaces for that ‘boho mom’ feel, tie a bandana around your neck for that ‘sweet mom’ vibe, or throw a motorcycle jacket over your shoulders for that ‘cool mom’ look.
Not only will accessorizing help you support the multiple personalities that come with your raging hormones, but it will also help you get away with buying a few simple pieces and making them look completely different each and every time you wear them.
Oh, and in my esteemed medical opinion, wearing a great pair of flats is just as important as taking your prenatal vitamins, even if you can’t see them anymore.
Lie #5: Look to celebrity style for inspiration
I made this mistake once. I was feeling particularly large, sweaty, uncomfortable, and unmotivated to get out of bed, let alone get into an outfit.
That’s when I Googled ‘Celebrity Maternity Style’ for some innocent inspiration. What I saw I will NEVER UNSEE. Every image was of stunning, waifish models and rich, gorgeous actresses with full hair and makeup, designer wardrobes, and flawless lighting, looking slightly pregnant and impossibly perfect.
Sure, turning to famous people for fashion inspiration is great when you’re a regular person, living in your regular body, just looking for some regular-old eye candy. But as a pregnant woman, the only thing these celebrities inspired me to do was cry.
Feeling uncomfortable in my own stretching skin, I started to compare my belly to supermodel Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s. I started to wonder why Blake Lively’s face wasn’t bloated. I started to squeeze the fat on my arms upon seeing that Amal Clooney’s were perfectly toned. Maybe there was something wrong with ME?!
Of course, the only thing wrong with me was my Google history. So ladies, clear your search engines and stop looking to anyone for inspiration but the tiny human growing inside of you. Because that little bundle of joy will make all the swelling, bloating, stretch marks, and control-top maternity pants, totally worth it.
So there you have it nation; A humble apology for mistakenly misleading you, and some new and improved rules for ‘Dressing your bump’.
Thank you from the bottom of my three hearts. xo