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Babies, Families, Fashion, Life & Style

The Best Ethical Maternity Clothes from Bump to Beyond

ethical maternity wear

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 after giving birth I’m still wearing some of my maternity clothes!

The short answer to the ethical maternity clothes question is that in truth is I’m loathed to suggest buying new maternity clothes.  This is 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:

A Sustainable Approach to Ethical Maternity Clothes

ethical maternity clothes

Shop Your Own Wardrobe

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 tight dresses got put away.  I don’t have a big wardrobe.  Heck, I don’t even own a wardrobe.  I just have one chest of drawers and a box under my bed.  Therefore, I didn’t have a massive amount of clothes to choose from but the things I did have were surprisingly versatile!

As the month’s 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 ethical maternity clothes!

Shop Secondhand

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 the first time around I searched on eBay* for secondhand Asos maternity wear (one of the least frumpy maternity wear retailers I found).  Find my top eBay buying tips if you’re new to eBay.

Here on eBay I 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 around I was heavily pregnant in winter so a cardigan out of my existing wardrobe helped keep me warm.  The best thing with that is that there is 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.  This is where people are selling their maternity clothing in bulk packages.  You might get a whole new-to-you ethical maternity wardrobe for not much money!

There are a few other places where you might find ethical secondhand maternity clothes online.  Check out my guide to places to shop for secondhand clothes online for more ideas.

Charity Shops

non maternity maternity clothes

Maternity wear in charity shops is quite hard to find.  What I did find instead were regular clothes that worked well with a bump.  Skirts with elasticated waists are handy for wearing below your bump – see my collection above.  I also found that wrap dresses were surprisingly good at covering bumps.  Meanwhile, oversized tops are also 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*.

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 a bump band is not difficult to make.  Here’s an easy DIY from 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.

Ethical Maternity Bras

The only thing I haven’t skimped on is maternity/nursing bras.  When you’re pregnant you need all the support you can get!  I couldn’t find any ethical maternity or nursing bras, so settled for the Marks & Spencer maternity/nursing bras*.

Best Ethical Maternity Clothes Brands

If you need want to buy something new, then there are a few ethical maternity clothes brands worth looking into:

Boob Design

Boob Design is an ethical clothing brand specialising in maternity and nursing wear. Their entire range is made ethically from sustainable fabrics, including GOTS certified cotton.

Frugi

Ethical kids retailer Frugi* has a great selection of ethically made organic cotton maternity wear that is designed for fashion and functionality to keep you feeling fabulous during and after your pregnancy.

Marks & Spencer

Marks & Spencer Maternity Wear* is another option to explore for ethical maternity clothes. Although not perfect, Marks & Spencer are a cornerstone of the British high street, and their Plan A demonstrates their commitments to sustainability.

Seasalt

Seasalt’s* maternity clothes are made using soft and breathable natural fabrics, that keep you comfortable and stylish as your body changes. Find maternity trousers and leggings, plus a special range of printed maternity dresses and tops, in sizes 8 to 20.

Tiffany Rose

Tiffany Rose specialises in ethically made maternity occasion dresses and maternity evening wear, with all pieces designed and made in Britain. Their pieces are definitely high budget and have been worn by celebrities and royalty.

Whoever you buy ethical maternity clothes from, after you’re done with your clothes, either keep the clothes for potential future pregnancies or pass them on to friends or sell them online. Alternatively, you could buy items from my list at the top, such as elasticated waist skirts, shirts, etc, from any ethical retailer.  I have a handy guide to women’s ethical clothing brands to help you out.

Maternity Clothes You Don’t Need To Buy

I’ve always found that 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!  And do check out my guide to ethical kids’ clothes, which might prove useful to you in the coming months!  As may my guides to washable nappies and eco-friendly disposable nappies!

Babies, Families

Eco-Friendly Baby Essentials

eco-friendly baby essentials

eco-friendly baby essentials

Let me share with you my eco-friendly baby essentials

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

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

To be honest. And also 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 the first time around anyway. So I’m hoping you’ll be pleasantly surprised by my selection:

My Eco-Friendly Baby Essentials

environmentally friendly baby essentials

Nappies

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

We have about 16 nappies and found that was more than sufficient.  I initially spent around £180 on them.  However, they probably saved us at the very least two hundred pounds or so the first time around. 

Now that we’ll be using them again the second time around we’ll probably have saved at least £600 (a 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.  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.  Later I plan to 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. 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).  However, 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.  I haven’t tried this so can’t comment on its effectiveness though.

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.  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).  It was 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).  I have a feeling the Ergo is going to be a lifesaver the 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 secondhand 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!

PS: I’ve updated this post – see my updated eco-friendly baby essentials here.  And do check out my guide to ethical kids’ clothes – from birth and beyond.