Myth: After you’ve had the baby, you don’t need to worry about what to wear.
Truth: You absolutely do need to pay attention.
I hope that after my last column you’re being careful about your health. I also hope you’re taking whatever time you can for self-care. That means basic grooming, cleanliness, and clothes.
When it comes to what to wear, you do need to pay some attention. I remember a few days after I came home with my third baby. I took my older children to their gan, and one of the teachers “yelled” at me, saying that I’m supposed to be home in my pajamas. I just smiled back (I really do love all those teachers). But I know better.
From me, you get the truth.
Again, the mashal of the airplane applies. You do your own oxygen mask first and then help your child because if you don’t take care of yourself, you cannot take care of anyone else. This includes the right clothes, which will make you look and feel better at a time when you’re feeling weak, tired, and possibly down. The right clothes won’t cure the blues entirely, but they will help you get past them faster. They won’t cure post-partum depression either (that needs professional help to manage), but they will help move your recovery along.
As a rule, do not spend the day in pajamas or a robe unless you’re seriously sick and not leaving your home. Of course you want to be comfortable and you deserve to be comfortable, but you need to also look good for yourself. When you have babies and toddlers, you need that reminder that you’re more than just a maid and a nurse.
No, you don’t need your maternity clothes anymore. But your pre-pregnancy clothes will not fit you right away. This is where your transitional clothes from the first trimester come in handy. They’re regular clothes but just one or two sizes bigger than your pre-pregnancy clothes. Work with them now. Play with different combinations and use accessories (remember that accessories will always fit). Try to go for the most fitted look you can; it will look better.
If your first trimester was in warm weather and now it’s cold out, or vice-versa, then you might need a few new items to account for the weather. But again, shop your wardrobe first. Use what you have. Remember that smart layering involves lightweight items that work well in warmer weather, so use those items.
Now for some specific ideas…
If you’ve chosen not to nurse, then you may wear pretty much anything that fits and flatters. But if you choose to nurse, then you need tops that accommodate that. When I was nursing I loved cardigans and button-down shirts worn open over shells. I kept my tops untucked to make things easier. This was a “uniform” for me and it worked all the time. I even used this outfit formula for Shabbat, Yom Tov, and special events. And I continued to use this formula even after I stopped nursing except that I started tucking in my tops. The good news is that these items are inexpensive and easy to find in stores. And if you already have them, use them.
I’ve already heard people on social media telling me that a cardigan or button-down with a shell won’t work for special events. First of all, whatever fashion rule stated this is long dead. This outfit formula is not a faux pas even at black-tie affairs. Actress Sharon Stone wore a ball skirt with her husband’s button-down shirt to the Oscars, and if she can do it so can the rest of us (except that I always recommend a shell underneath). I wore a long black skirt, black shell, and teal cardigan at my cousin’s secular black-tie wedding. I added a fancy headwrap and fancy earrings and everyone was telling me how great I looked. Second, if you yourself are just not comfortable in this formula, I won’t force you to wear it. But again, it’s not a faux pas, so it’s worth a try.
Can you wear dresses while nursing? Yes, but they have to accommodate that. This is one more reason I love shirtdresses. A fitted A-line shirtdress flatters almost every figure and it opens and closes as needed. There are nursing dresses out there that look like regular pullover dresses and if you find such dresses that suit your taste and that fit and flatter you otherwise, go ahead and wear them.
Basic grooming is also crucial. Make sure that twice a day you brush your teeth, wash your face, and apply any lotions and potions you need. You likely won’t need makeup during most of your immediate postpartum time, but there are still situations that call for makeup and you may encounter one or more of those, so just keep it simple.
Make time to shower and take care of your hair. While pregnancy hair is the best hair you’ll ever have because it grows faster and doesn’t shed, postpartum hair is the worst hair you’ll have because all the hormones that gave you great hair are gone. Postpartum hair sheds like mad because all the extra hair that didn’t shed during pregnancy is going now. And your hair won’t grow very fast. Plus, it will likely be brittle and hard to manage. Don’t worry; this too is normal. I advised wearing your hair in its natural state during pregnancy to make things easier, but now it’s even more crucial to leave it natural. Don’t worry, though; it will take a few months, but the hormones will stabilize and your hair will be fine.
For all you hair-coverers out there, use this time to play around with them. Most hair coverings will fit you just like they did before, so just use them like accessories and create new and different outfits with them. Hats and berets are easy to put on and take off. If you want to wear a sheitel, that too is easy on and easy off. Nothing wrong with that. For some women mitpachot may be a bit much because they require some doing, but for others they’re creative and versatile. Your call. Since most of your immediate postpartum time will be weekday casual, I won’t say no to snoods or pre-tieds. But with the exception of the short “beret-snoods,” I still say that they’re not flattering and not your best choice.
This time can be difficult and overwhelming, but when you look good, it really does make you feel better and makes things easier. Enjoy this time.