Maternity and Nursingwear – Top tips for choosing a new wardrobe

When I was expecting J, my first child, I ruined quite a few of my clothes, stretching them out beyond belief in my refusal to buy maternity wear.

Reasons why I did not want to buy maternity wear:

  1. Maternity wear is expensive
  2. Maternity wear is ugly
  3. I’d only be wearing them for 9 months so why bother

I had resorted to sneaking teeshirts from the Barn Owl’s drawers when he decided that Enough Was Enough and insisted that I get some new clothes.

Unfortunately, I was also suffering from terrible all-day-long sickness, and even walking around the house was making me dizzy. I could not bear to bring myself to go down to the high street to buy circus tents to wear.

Which is when I discovered the big bad world of online shopping!

I also discovered that maternity and nursing wear has changed drastically in the last decade or so, and most things are comfortable, chic and reasonably priced. I have since changed my attitude towards buying clothes during pregnancy and I highly recommend that expectant ladies invest in good quality maternity wear.

Now, this is not to say that you have to necessarily go to a specialist shop to purchase purpose-built maternity wear. You just have to know what to look out for when choosing clothes for this stage of your life. I didn’t figure this one out until I was well into my second pregnancy and had a better idea of what sort of clothes would work well in the transition from pregnancy to the postpartum state.

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At the beginning of my third trimester expecting Thumper

Reasons why I recommend expectant ladies to purchase maternity and nursing wear:

  1. Pre-pregnancy clothes will stay nice and not turn into shapeless bags
  2. Husband will stop complaining about missing shirts (and shorts)
  3. The clothes will actually be worn for much, MUCH longer than 9 months, especially if one is breastfeeding and takes a longer time to regain pre-pregnancy shape
  4. The clothes are usually super comfortable and flattering to the figure which makes a big difference to your outlook on life when you’re approaching the size of a whale, hurting all over and feeling miserable about stretch marks
  5. Most maternity clothes also double up as nursing wear which makes life very easy if you decide to breastfeed or use a breast pump.

So here are my top tips to keep in mind when looking for maternity or nursing wear (as well as some hacks for making regular clothes work for you)!

Owls Well Guide to choosing Maternity and Nursingwear

1. For bottoms, look for styles with a fully elasticated panel that extends over the top of your bump. This panel can then be worn over the top of your bump, folded down midway or even scrunched up under the bump, and will stretch and shrink to accommodate the changes in size during and after your pregnancy.

I have found this style to be the most comfortable as it doesn’t slip down when you walk (or run) around or lose elasticity, so it lasts the longest. Additionally, I think looks great for after pregnancy because the elasticated panel smooths over all your wobbly bits!

Regular clothes hack #1: Yoga pants with a high waistband and soft, stretchy and breathable material would work well too – size up if you’re worried about it getting too tight and uncomfortable towards the end of your pregnancy! Look for maxi or midi-length skirts with elasticated waists, plenty of pleats and gathers for loads of room and to make sure that hemlines stay decent in the front as your belly burgeons.

2. For tops and tees, try to find styles that will last you through those nursing days. This can either be combination maternity-to-nursingwear tops or have any of the following features:

  • Buttons that go all the way up the front (at at least mid way)
  • Wrap tops
  • Loose fitting or flowing tops, or oversized, boxed-shaped tees
  • Trapeze or swing tops that are narrow on top and loose at the hips
  • Styles with pleats, ruching, gathers, shirring and smocking (basically anything that has extra hidden fabric with a little ‘give’) are your friends

Regular clothes hack #2: Look for longer length tops or tunics – these won’t turn into crop tops and will cover your bump neatly well into the last trimester. Long cardigans,  cute serapes or ponchos, as well as loosely draped wrapped tops are great cool weather gear and can also double-up as great nursing covers!

3. Although in general I prefer separates for maternity and nursing wear, it is probably a good idea to get one or two really nice dresses for special occasions. You never know you might have to go to a party, a wedding, or just dress up for date night (I suggest a movie and a fancy restaurant). Take your time and choose something really nice that you might even deign to wear after your pregnancy – you can always cinch in the waist with a belt!

Regular clothes hack #3: Maxi dresses are your friend – especially high waisted or empire line styles!

4. Many nursing tops and dresses now have very cleverly hidden openings for easy access to the milk bar. However, do avoid nursing access openings that have a zip or velcro closure. Who wants little zip teethmarks all along the side of your boob? Or start a breastfeeding session with a loud ripping sound that will frighten the birds? Nobody, that’s who.

Regular clothes hack #4: Look for tops and dresses that have a hidden bra shelf and stretchy open neckline – quick and easy pull-down access!

5. For lingerie, stick with your usual bikini style panties (boy shorts if you want more coverage at the back) and wear them under your belly, just be prepared to buy new pants as these will surely be stretched all out of shape. Stick with breathable cotton and seamless styles as keeping cool and comfortable is key to preventing nasty infections.

6. As for bras, your breasts are likely to get tender during pregnancy and will definitely change in shape and size. Ditch all your underwire bras, and find some good quality maternity and nursing bras that are not only soft, breathable, stretchy and easily adjustable to accommodate fluctuations in size (which can be +/- a whole cup or two every few hours), but provide good support so that you don’t get backache. Most nursing bras will come with drop-down cups, so find ones that you can clip and unclip easily with one hand.

Regular clothes hack #5: If you don’t fluctuate in size much, a good sports bra or sports tank, crop top or camisole with an inbuilt bra shelf are a good option. They’ll be comfortable, give good support and wick sweat away from the body to boot. Layer them under your other clothes to use them as nursing bras.

 

Midweek Break: Musical Anachronisms

I’m so excited! Postmodern Jukebox is back in Singapore this Friday and I am finally going to get a chance to see them ‘live’ in concert! Yay!

Here’s something I wrote about them last September.

Owls Well

One of our favourite video game series over at here at Owls Well is the BioShock franchise, which has won awards for not only for its provocative, morality-driven storyline and but also for its vintage-inspired game design which is rich in detail.

In the latest release, BioShock Infinite, this attention to detail extends even to the soundtrack, which (in keeping with the time travel theme) includes musical anachronisms – the reimagining of current pop music in the style of an earlier music era.

A Becky Lee recently introduced me to the PostModern Jukebox, a band which features music arranged by Scott Bradlee, who was the musical genius behind the Bioshock Infinite musical anachronisms.

Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox (Picture Credit: Postmodern Jukebox) Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox (Picture Credit: Postmodern Jukebox)

I really love this particular arrangement of “My Heart Will Go On” (yes, that soppy ballad from the movie “Titanic”) done in the style of a 1950s…

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Marvellous Melbourne: Exploring the Melbourne CBD (I)

We’re posting over at our travel blog ‘Owl Fly Away’ today – check out how I survived a weekend in Melbourne city, solo with three kids!

Owl Fly Away

The Barn Owl was attending a course all weekend, so we stayed at the conference location which was at fancy hotel within the Melbourne CBD. In retrospect, it would have been cheaper and better for us to just have booked an Airbnb self-catering apartment that would have been just steps from the hotel, as that would have worked out better for Thumper’s nap times. We’ll remember that for next time!

Knowing that I would be managing the 3 kids by myself all weekend, A Becky C took pity on me and flew over to Melbourne (with the Boobook, of course) for a sisterly weekend! Yay!

We met up for breakfast at Hopetoun Tea Rooms (named for its founder, Lady Hopetoun). This is a lovely little Victorian-era tea room which has been standing in the same place in the heritage shopping arcade, Block Arcade, for over 120 years!

The shopfront looked amazing…

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Marvellous Melbourne: The Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges

We’re blogging over at Owl Fly Away today – all about the great outdoors on the outskirts of Melbourne and an awesome farmstay!

Owl Fly Away

Through a search on AirBnb, we were very fortunate to find this awesome farmstay opportunity on a working farm located in Wandin North, which is within the Yarra Valley and not far from Melbourne.

Aquila Acres Farm Stay and Equine Learning is run by Debs Parsons, who specialises in Equine-assisted therapy. Basically, she helps people with physical, cognitive and emotional issues to work through their problems by caring for and riding the horses and ponies on her farm.

The self-catering accommodation itself is a very comfortable two bedroom converted stablehouse, and is right next to where some of the horses and ponies bed down for the night. It is real treat to wake up and watch the miniature ponies gambolling in the surrounding fields. The kids certainly enjoyed getting up in the morning and then wandering outside to feed hay to the horses and ponies whilst still in…

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Harvest Time at the New Castle Grounds

Hey Debs, check it out!  It’s harvest time at the New Castle grounds!

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Check it out!  Not all of them sprouted or grew to size, but… still, not a bad harvest, all things considering.

Two months ago, I planted some daikon radishes.  Yesterday, they were ready for harvest!  How did I know this?  Well, the tops of the daikon root poke out of the soil when they’re ready to harvest, just like in Harvest Moon!

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Radishes ready for harvest!  Photo from Harvest Moon Memories, by Snoring Seal of Milk Can Anime.

Daikon have fragile leaves, so you can’t pull them out by pulling the leaves.  You’ll have to dig into the ground to liberate the root a little before pulling them out.  I needed a lot of strength to get mine out the ground – some of them were really big!

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Tops ready to pop!

Once they’re out of the ground, you’ll need to get the leaves off as quickly as possible, otherwise the root will shrivel as the leaves use up the stored nutrients.

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Nature’s bounty!

Then, it’s a quick wash and they’re ready to peel and eat!  Check out how white they are when they’re washed~!  I kept the dirt from the washing, since it can be returned to the garden.

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Ready for the pot!

Daikon are a surprisingly low maintenance plant.  I don’t think I needed to water them all that much, but it’s been pretty rainy out here in Australia so that might have helped a little.

I used some of them in daikon and pork-rib soup.  I made it with American style ribs by accident, so it’s a little less rich than I’d hoped.  I’m planning to pickle the rest Japanese and Vietnamese style.  I’ll let you know how that goes if it goes well at all.

As for the daikon tops, they were generously donated to the Bonnie and Clyde Fund for Starving Rabbits.  The donations lasted them all of 1 minute.

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The Bonnie and Clyde Fund for Starving Rabbits

Marvellous Melbourne: The Puffing Billy Railway

We’re posting over at our travel blog, Owl Fly Away, today! Hop on over and check it out!

Owl Fly Away

After spending three days in Melbourne city, we decided to head to the outskirts of the city to be nearer to the Dandenong Ranges and Yarra Valley, which are both well known for beautifully scenic countryside and boasting well maintained National Parks.

One of the best ways to view the Mountain Ash forests of the Dandenong Ranges is onboard a steam-powered locomotive travelling on the Puffing Billy Railway. Choo choo!

Puffing-Billy-Melbourne-Trains Waiting patiently at Belgrave Station

Puffing Billy travels from Belgrave to Gembrook station (with a few stops in between) going slowly through wooded countryside and wide open farmland, and over wooden trestle bridges.

The whole journey from Belgrave to Gembrook is about 2 hours long, with a round trip taking 5 hours in total, so it is completely possible to make a whole day trip  out of a visit to Puffing Billy.

We decided to stop by the…

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Last Minute Teacher’s Day Gift Ideas from around the web

Teacher’s Day is in a few days time and if you (like myself) are barely able to get it together on a daily basis, here are some awesome last minute Teacher’s Day Gift ideas from around the web! Just click on the links or the images for more details.

Smile, print and go!

Here are some really simple and fast gift and craft ideas using photos of your child! Just a little bit of photoshop magic or scissorwork required!

DIY Photo bookmark from Owls Well

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Photo penholder card from Owls Well

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Homemade Goodness

If you really want to impress, here are some delicious ideas that are so simple to make, you can even get your kids involved in the process!

Double Berry Jam from Life’s Tiny Miracles

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Picture Credit: Life’s Tiny Miracles

Homemade Granola from MalMal Our Inspiration

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Picture Credit: MalMal Our Inspiration

Daily Survival Kits

For some of us who have no confidence in our culinary skills, here are some equally practical gifts for helping teachers stay healthy, happy and sweet.

Obento-style care packages for teachers from Sakura Hakura

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Picture Credit: Sakura Hakura

Teachers’ Day Care Package from Bubsicles

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Picture Credit: Bubsicles

Make it personal

Nothing says ‘effort’ like a handmade gift! Here are some more lovely craft ideas for that special teacher.

Hand stamped tote bags from Lil Blue Bottle

Teachers = learning = books = they will always need a tote bag for all their books and loose papers! (I suggest using the slogan “You’re Totes Awesome”! )

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Picture Credit: Lil Blue Bottle

Magnetising Teachers Day from Growing Hearts 123

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Picture Credit: Growing Hearts 123

Make it Teacher Approved

Here are some useful lists of gift ideas with some gorgeous free printables – written by parents who are teachers themselves!

(By the way, I hear movie ticket vouchers, Starbucks gift cards and good quality coloured pens or highlighters are very high on the wish list, although every teacher I’ve spoken to really appreciates a thoughtfully written card.)

  1. 6 Gift Ideas for Teachers from My Lilbookworm
  2. 10 Mason Jar Gift ideas for Teachers’ Day from Life’s Tiny Miracles