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Babies, Families, Fashion, Life & Style

Ethical Maternity Clothes

ethical maternity wear

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A reader recently asked me about the options available for ethical maternity clothes, which I thought I’d address now while it’s still fresh in my mind!  And to be honest, five weeks in I’m still wearing some of my maternity clothes!

The short answer to ethical maternity clothes question is that in truth is I’m loathe to suggest buying new ethical maternity clothes, because you’ll wear the clothes for such a short duration that it’s not really worth the investment.  Instead I thought I’d share the approach I took in my own pregnancies:

Ethical Maternity Clothes – A Guide

ethical maternity clothes uk

Use What You’ve Got

The most ethical maternity clothes are the ones you already own.  From my existing non-maternity wardrobe I looked for:

  • Cardigans
  • Leggings and tights
  • Stretchy tops and jumpers
  • Stretchy dresses and empire line dresses.  A word on dresses – as your bump gets bigger and bigger your existing non-maternity dresses will get shorter and shorter on you so you might want to wear them as tunics with maternity jeans or leggings underneath.
  • Wrap dresses
  • Elastic waisted skirts
  • Shirts – wear unbuttoned over a stretchy vest or top
  • Oversized clothing

I put away anything I couldn’t wear – so for example, a lot of my dresses got put away.  I don’t have a big wardrobe (heck, I don’t even own a wardrobe – just one chest of drawers and a box under my bed), so I didn’t have a massive amount of clothes to choose from but the things I did have were surprisingly versatile!

As the months progress I sincerely doubt you’ll be able to get through your whole pregnancy just with what’s in your wardrobe already, but there a few other avenues to explore before having to resort to buying new maternity clothes!

eBay

ethical maternity clothes

My two Asos Maternity secondhand Bay finds – and me at 37 and 39 weeks pregnant first time around

My own wardrobe only offered me a very limited selection so first time around on eBay I searched for secondhand Asos maternity wear (one of the least frumpy maternity wear retailers I found) and found two beautiful secondhand maternity dresses that I wore and wore and wore for the whole duration of both of my pregnancies.  If you’re into the idea of wearing dresses (I know not everyone is) I found it quite an economical way of dressing whilst pregnant – you only need one item of clothing – whereas with trousers you need a top as well.  Both times I was heavily pregnant in winter so a cardigan out of my existing wardrobe helped keep me warm – the best thing with that is there’s no need for special maternity cardigans!

Other good things to look for on eBay are maternity jeans and trousers.  I’d have been lost without my maternity jeans!  I have some Topshop ones that I bought on eBay and I love them (still wearing them now!!).

While you’re on eBay keep an eye out for maternity bundles – where people are selling their maternity clothing in bulk packages.  You might get a whole new-to-you maternity wardrobe for not much money!

Charity Shops

non maternity maternity clothes

Maternity wear in charity shops is quite hard to find, but what I did find were regular clothes that worked well with a bump.  Skirts with elasticated waists (handy for wearing below your bump) (see my collection above); wrap dresses (surprisingly good at covering bumps); and oversized tops are all good finds that can then be worn post-birth too.

Two of the skirts above are second hand and the teal skirt with the owls is from People Tree*.  It’s still available – here*- and just £8!

DIY Options

Making a bump band is a great way of eking out the life of your non-maternity tops and bottoms with a band that covers the gap between your top and your trousers!  The good news is it’s not difficult to make – here’s an easy DIY from the girls at A Beautiful Mess.  If you really can’t sew you could always cut an old stretchy vest in half (horizontally across the middle) to make your band.

Buying New

If you really want to buy new then there are a couple of ethical maternity clothes shops, such as Tiffany Rose and Boob Design but I personally found them a bit out of my price range.  If you’re after something a bit more budget friendly then I’d suggest either Marks & Spencer Maternity Wear* and New Look Maternity Wear*.  Marks & Spencer are one of the more ethical retailers on the High St, as are New Look and also both more affordable.

When I was pregnant first time around the New Look maternity range seemed very young in style so I didn’t shop there, but I recently had a look and it looks a lot more grown-up than it was five years ago!  After you’re done with them either keep the clothes for future pregnancies, or pass on to friends or sell on eBay for maximum longevity.

Alternatively, you could buy items from my list at the top, such as elasticed waist skirts, shirts, etc, from any ethical retailer.

Maternity Bras

The only thing I haven’t skimped on is maternity/nursing bras.  A girl needs all the support she can get!  Lorna Drew sell ethical maternity/nursing bras or on the High St you can’t really beat the Marks & Spencer maternity/nursing bras*.  I bought these ones* and can recommend them.

Maternity Clothes You Don’t Need To Buy

I’ve always thought the maternity clothes market tries to sell you things you don’t really need.  I found that I didn’t need maternity specific leggings, tights, knickers, and pyjamas/sleepwear.

The good news is you don’t need too many clothes – depending on how often you do laundry then maybe about five days worth of clothing (so you don’t get completely sick of wearing the exact same things over and over again).  A word of warning for the first time mums-to-be: you may need to keep wearing your maternity clothes after you’ve had your baby for a little bit, as post-birth it can take a little while for your body to go back to some kind of normal.  So I can promise you, whatever you buy you will be sick of it by the time you go back to wearing normal clothes!

Ethical Nursing Clothes

While I’m here, a note on nursing.  If you’re planning on breastfeeding some people say you should stock up on specific nursing tops.  The thing is, breastfeeding is a totally normal activity and does not need a brand new wardrobe or a specialist wardrobe, ethical or otherwise.  I own precisely zero specifically designed nursing tops.  Instead I find the best approach for nursing discretely in public is to wear a vest under whatever I’m wearing.  When my daughter needs feeding I reach down and unhook my nursing bra, and then pull the vest down just enough and the outer top up just enough.  It takes practice (just like breastfeeding takes practice) but once you’re used to you can feed really discretely without having to buy a whole new wardrobe.

Do you have any ethical maternity clothes tips?  Advice on retailers that you’ve found?  Nursing tips?  Do share in the comments below!

Babies, Families

Eco-Friendly Baby Essentials

eco-friendly baby essentials

eco-friendly baby essentials

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So, I finally let the cat out of the bag yesterday on Instagram – I’m pregnant with our second child!  Our baby is due early January and we are all over the moon – especially my daughter who is thrilled to be getting a sibling!

As I’m more than half way through my pregnancy, I’ve been thinking about what things we need to stock up on in advance of our little one’s arrival, and thought I’d put together my list of eco-friendly baby essentials for any new parents or parents-to-be.

To be honest, and completely contrary to all the new baby literature out there, I’d say there are very few things for babies that I’d class as essential.  Certainly from my experience first time around anyway. So I’m hoping you’ll be pleasantly surprised by my eco-friendly baby essentials selection:

Eco-Friendly Baby Essentials

environmentally friendly baby essentials

Bumgenius washable nappies – I used these for two years on my daughter and I have to say I think they are the very best reusable nappies out there, and very much eco-friendly baby essentials!  I’m digging out our old ones and mending a couple that need a little bit of attention.

We have about 16 nappies and found that was more than sufficient.  I initially spent around £180 on them, but they probably saved us at the very least two hundred pounds or so first time around, and now that we’ll be using them again second time around we’ll probably have saved at least £600 (very rough bottom end estimate), which is amazing.  I managed to convert a few friends to Bumgenius, who now sing the praises of them!  Top tip – go for the popper fastening ones rather than velcro, as poppers are more durable.

ps: I put together a guide on how to use washable nappies early on in the life of the blog that you might find useful.

Tots Bots nappy liners – I found these fit Bumgenius nappies the best, and you can just put them straight down the toilet.  No touching of poo required!

Washable baby wipes – I didn’t use reusable baby wipes the first time around as I didn’t know such things existed but now that I do I have just bought a set from Cheeky Wipes, and I’m looking forward to using them on baby number 2!  I picked up a mini set as I already have a nappy bucket, etc, and later I’ll buy another set just for hands and face for the messy weaning stage.  I paid £25 for my set of wipes, which will easily pay for itself in a few months – baby wipes are surprisingly expensive and you go through a pack quicker than you think!

Lansinoh Cream* – ok, not specifically for babies, but for new mums who are breastfeeding this stuff is a lifesaver in a tube as what midwives don’t tell you is that breastfeeding to begin with hurts.  A lot.  At £7.49 it’s quite pricey (one of the cheapest places I can track it down is John Lewis) but it lasts forever and I cannot extol the virtues of this stuff enough!  It is a lanolin based product though, so it’s not vegan friendly.  If you are vegan I have heard that some mums recommend coconut oil on their nipples but I haven’t tried this so can’t comment on its effectiveness.

Coconut Oil* – this stuff, in combination with some nappy free time, is brilliant at clearing up nappy rash.  Rather than carrying around a heavy jar I like to scoop some into a small jar and carry that around instead.  It’s a bit more hygienic as well!

Ergo Baby Carrier* – my parents bought us an Ergo when we had our daughter and it was hands down one of the most practical and well used items we owned.  Living car free, it was brilliant for going on the bus (no worrying if there was going to be space for a pram, or having to fold down the pram if not), and also invaluable on those oh-so frequent days when your baby does not want to be put down.  We used ours on a daily basis up until my daughter was two (although you can use it up to age four on your back) and I have a feeling the Ergo is going to be a lifesaver second time around!

Aside from somewhere to sleep, some blankets, some muslin cloths for dealing with spit-up, some clothes to wear and some bottles and teats if you’re planning on bottle feeding, then to be honest I really feel these are the only eco-friendly baby essentials you’ll really need.

For other items eBay* is brilliant for shopping secondhand – particularly for bundles of clothing and secondhand equipment such as a pram/buggy, cot/crib, etc.  See also Gumtree and Preloved* for local bargains, as well as local charity shops.

Unnecessary Baby Items

As well as sharing my eco-friendly baby essentials I thought I’d share the baby things I found to be utterly unnecessary:

  • Baby walkers/jumpers – unless you have a big living room with a solid un-carpeted floor then I’d avoid at all costs.  If you do want to buy one then they’re so easy to pick up second hand as they only get used for such a short amount of time.
  • Baby shoes – until babies start walking I don’t really see the point of shoes.  You just end up putting them back on about twenty times a day!  I stick with warm socks.
  • Specialist bath products – we didn’t need separate bubble baths, body washes or shampoos – I just used an all in one bath/hair/body wash (like this Green People one*) and a flannel.
  • Talcum powder – as a child I have strong memories of being slathered in the stuff after a bath, but our midwife warned us against talcum powder as there are links to increased cancer risks.
  • Changing table – you don’t need anywhere special to change a baby.  We used a changing pad on top of an existing chest of drawers.  When your child has progressed to using the toilet you’ve still got a functional piece of furniture!
  • Newborn clothing – my daughter was nearly 9 lbs at birth, so fitted into newborn clothing for precisely 7 days!
  • 0-3 month clothing – we got bought so much of it we didn’t need to buy any!
  • Most toys – babies don’t show any real interest in toys until about 6 months plus, and even then they are more interested in the things around about them – a wooden spoon and a saucepan can provide hours of entertainment!  Plus you will get bought so many toys that you don’t need to go crazy in the toy shop!

Have I missed any eco-friendly baby essentials?  Anything you’d add to the list?  And is there anything you’d advise new parents against buying?  As always do let me know in the comments below!