When you’re pregnant, the world thinks they can touch you. It’s good luck, they say; most of us who’ve been there, been patted like that, think it’s yucky and invasive. (Especially when they won’t give you their seat on the bus, but still rub your belly; too-true story.) If they’re so worried about “luck” why do they tell expecting women horror stories about difficulties and what can happen to you and your body?
And then there are the stereotypes of hormonal women who either cry or respond angrily to “everything.” Who wouldn’t be upset by the rudeness of a stranger touching them? Or “helpful advice” about what’s going to happen to your body? Who wants to hear all the supposedly good-natured comical statements, like “My, look how big you are!” (And don’t even get me started on the comments about you donating all your pre-pregnancy clothes “because you’ll never fit in those again.” Don’t you know that you’re striking more than the fear of fashion fit, but how she’s going to fit into life as she once knew it? Sheesh, people!)
Those of us have been pregnant — and those who have supported pregnant women and/or new moms during these times — know that such advice, public ownership, and description of your person isn’t always so helpful. Pregnancy, after-birth, and nursing are sensitive times. — and women in these circumstances have sensitive needs. Many of us really do wish to support the women we love, wives, daughters, sisters, friends, etc., but we fear our best intentions will be mistaken as being critical in some fashion…
In earlier discussions about body image and pregnancy and my rant about comments that maternity and nursing bras are “too sexy”, I promised you practical tips on giving maternity and nursing bras as gifts to support pregnant women and new moms; here we finally get to them. *wink*
If you wondered how you can give emotional and physical support at this very special, yet stressful, time, if you’ve ever worried that giving something as intimate as a maternity (or nursing) bra would be inappropriate — read on and find out what the experts have to say!
Naturally, I had to speak with bra fitting expert Ali Cudby, author of Busted! The FabFoundations Guide To Bras That Fit, Flatter and Feel Fantastic, on the subject. (There’s still time to enter to win a copy of the book here!) Here are her thoughts:
I think the best gift you can give a pregnant woman or new Mom, from the lingerie perspective, is a fitting and a gift certificate to a lingerie store that stocks a wide array of styles and sizes in their maternity/nursing department. That way, a new Mom can be cared for and fitted into garments that will work best for her.
Having a baby is an emotional roller coaster, and any time you feel cared for, it’s a huge boost. A lot of women have mixed feelings about their bodies at the best of times, and pregnancy can stir up old insecurities (as well as create new ones). Feeling good in your nursing bra may be one small element of a woman’s life, but it is incredibly powerful.
That said, the best non-lingerie gift you can give any pregnant woman or new Mom is your time. So being there to listen or help on her terms, even if it’s a totally unglamorous job, is a true mark of a generosity and support.
There are a few ways to approach:
• Directly – Ask your expectant friend if she’d like a special nursing/maternity bra, and if so have her pick it out (there’s no surprise element here, but at least she is receiving a gift she wants, rather than something she may already have).
• A nice gesture – If you know a bra would be a perfect gift for your friend and you’re unsure on her size, a gift certificate is a great idea. That way she can pick her style and size without having an awkward conversation with her and it still remains a surprise for her!
Also, keep in mind most lingerie companies have great return/exchange policies. So even if you go for either approach and it turns out the fit isn’t right, you can happily exchange the item for a different size via the store/website from where you purchased the item.
And finally, my thoughts.
I would have loved to receive the precious and practical gift of a bra (or a half dozen) when I was pregnant, and, after the babies were born, nursing bras. Money was tight and I ended up with whatever was on the racks at WalMart — which was basically a sports bra. (Maybe WalMart’s inventory has improved — but their sizing hasn’t!)
The result: I was very, uncomfortably aware that my bras were ugly and letting me down on the job.
As mentioned above and in earlier posts, it was a horrible thing to feel so ugly and uncomfortable then. (Oh, I could go on and on forever!) And I don’t think I’m the only one who was — or is — stuck in such a mess. The evidence makes it clear… I can’t tell you the number of pregnant women I’ve since given maternity bras to who have openly wept with joy at receiving the!
So take it from me personally, she will love that you thought of her during this time.
* At the baby shower where family, coworkers and others you might not know well are in attendance, give her a diaper bag or whatnot with the maternity bra gift certificate tucked inside.
* If there are no local places that offer true bra fittings, tuck your gift card in Ali Cudby’s book (which will help her know she’s not alone!) and offer to help her find her right size. (See the next tip!)
* If the new momma-to-be or nursing momma is one of your close friends, your sister, etc., I love to give her the full experience of shopping. Along with a gift certificate, I make a gift certificate for a Pregnant Princess Shopping Day. This includes me coming along to help her with the fitting, buying her lunch, and taking her for a pedicure. Amazingly, this is where opting for online shopping can be even more fun! Order a few styles, have her try them on at home where she’s comfortable, and select those that fit and flatter her best! (Don’t forget to bring along the lunch or snacks of her favorite pregnancy foods and to give her a pedicure!)
Honestly, the more friends you have along, the more fun this is — it’s a way more awesome pregnancy shower than the usual ones! People always buy things for the baby; too few remember momma!
* If you know her bra size, or at least think you do, get her a bra. Sometimes gift certificates seem like “work” to pregnant or nursing moms or can easily be overlooked; but the physical bra won’t be ignored. However, remember to be practical. Basic beige, white, black, etc. are the most likely to be worn. If you do opt for super fun fashion colors, remember to get her a top she can actually wear the bra beneath — otherwise the pretty bra will just sit in the drawer.
* Don’t only give the gift of maternity or nursing bras at the baby shower! Pregnancy lasts 10 months — and if she’s nursing, who knows how long after that? Bras last six months or so, so she’ll clearly need new ones. Remember her and her needs at holiday time, her birthday, etc.
Image Credits: All the pretty maternity and nursing lingerie shown here is from Cake!