Dressing my postpartum body | Woodstock Photographer

A window into my fashion experience after my babies were born!

There I was.  Knee deep in a pile of laundry that was scattered all over my bedroom.  My 4 month old daughter was sleeping peacefully in her bouncy-chair.  

My husband walked in and recognized the look on my face.  That crazed look that says, "I'm gettin' stuff done today!!!!!".  It's a look similar to the look I had when I was 36 weeks pregnant with son, and vigorously washing the bathroom ceiling.  Because of course -- our newborn baby deserved nothing less than a sparkling clean bathroom ceiling.  

I had tried to squeeze my body into these old, uncomfortable clothes for the last time.  I pulled ALL the clothes from my closet and told my husband that I needed a WHOLE new wardrobe.  I was donating EVERYTHING! IT ALL MUST GO!

"If you want new clothes you have to at least keep one thing to wear to the store,"  he said.  

My husband is always the voice of reason in our home.  He makes me gluten free hamburgers so that I don't feel left out at family gatherings. He cleans the car and brings me a cup of tea when I'm working.  He's calm with the kids and never raises his voice.  

I'm the one with the crazy schemes and the IDEAS.  Ideas like, moving to Toronto before having a place to stay.  Ideas like dropping everything and road trippin' last minute with no plan.  Ideas like living room dance parties with the kiddos.  Ideas like throwing all your clothes into garbage bags then starting fresh.  I am a do-er.  He is a planner.  He keeps me grounded and I get him moving!

So when he saw me heaped in a mess of clothes he knew I was not going to put them back on the hangers. 

Let's backtrack.

Since my first was born, my daily inner-dialogue while getting dressed was,  "Eventually I'll fit into my old clothes".  Or, "I'll wear that again when I'm done nursing".  I was hanging onto old dated, worn-out clothes and it was holding me back. I made a million excuses why I didn't need new clothes -- nothing fit, why waste the money, the list goes on. There was also the feeling that the clothing in my closet represented the "old me".  In that moment, buying new clothes meant that I was letting go of that person.

I've always been a pretty casual, low-maintenance girl...but after going from office worker, to photographer, to mom...my clothing wasn't making sense for me anymore.  A mix of business casual and REALLY casual...I wasn't feeling good in my clothing anymore and it was affecting my confidence.  I've been through two pregnancies, a wide spectrum of dress sizes, nursed both my babies and have experienced first hand the challenges of postpartum fashion. I know I'm not the only one who felt limited, either. Nursing bras were in, dresses were out and my body just looked different in my old clothes. A lot of my favourite items just didn't fit, or weren't practical while nursing. I also needed clothing that moved with me better, as life with kids is active!  Things wear out quicker, get spilled on, and my active kids put my clothing to the test!  

At the same time, I wanted to feel put together.  Even if I wasn't dressed up, I wanted to look nice (read: not a complete hot-mess)

When I woke up that day and felt like enough was enough!  I was wasting all this energy on getting dressed. I wanted to put this energy into my kiddos and having fun with my family!  And here's the thing: I was depriving myself of the chance to move forward and embrace this new phase in my life and all the wonderful things my body has done! I grew two babies, delivered them, carry them, snuggle them, walk with them, feed them. All of those things I did in this new body, and although this parenting journey isn't easy, it's been so rewarding and I'm proud!  Making due and not feeling my best in my clothes wasn't making me a better mom. 

In the end I did it.  All the clothing that had life was donated.  The rest...tossed. I started following The Capsule Project and started to build a whole new wardrobe. Just a few pieces that I LOVE, and that work for me NOW. Pieces I love and fit my body + are also practical while I'm with my kids, getting messy, hiking, rolling in the grass and doing photo shoots :)

My challenge was to let go of the clothing that isn't working for me. When I made space for new things to enter my life, those new things flooded in.  It also made room for the clothing I already loved  to shine. When taking stock of my closet I now ask myself, "Do I love it?  Will I wear it often (read: is it practical)?  Do I feel GREAT it in?" Learn what fits your body, and what makes your heart sing! 

Here's MY top list of (very basic and practical) essentials if you're building a capsule wardrobe:

  • Two High Quality Tank Top in Black & White (great for nursing if you need it)
  • Black leggings
  • One pair of jeans (light or dark denim) that fit you perfectly and that you feel great in. 
  • Button down top 
  • A flowy scarf vest (doubles as a nursing cover, if your babies get distracted...like mine do)
  • A colourful chunky teething necklace (better they chew on this than your necklaces). 
  • Long sleeved striped shirt that's easy to nurse in. 
  • A shift dress or something fun you can wear on date night

Now obviously parting with everything you own won't work for everyone.  But if you're struggling and spending a lot of time getting dressed in the morning, don't be afraid to say goodbye to what's not working for you. 

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The biggest question I get before a session is -- what should I wear?  My answer is always, "Wear what makes you feel good!"  But if you want some more help - I've created a style guide to help -- perfect for Streetfest.   Sign up, below!  It's a simple and fun fashion inspiration tool for you and the kids.  And if you haven't claimed your spot for Streetfest, we have spaces left - schedule your time here

My biggest takeaway from this experience has been that it doesn't matter how we clothe our bodies or do our hair or live during the postpartum time!  Just do what makes you happy and comfortable and enjoy the time with those babies.  So dress that postpartum body the same way you'd dress ANY body!  Enjoy it, and don't be afraid to scale back your closet, be comfy and practical, but whatever you choose make sure you feel GREAT in it! 

xo,

Rachael

rachael little