Dressing while Pregnant
January 10, 2012 6:38 AM   Subscribe

Dressing and sleeping while pregnant: why does my Bella Band not stay down? why does my maternity belt scrunch up uncomfortably? Should I be wearing diabetic socks? How best to arrange millions of pillows in bed? What maternity gadgets are worth the cost?

I am 30 weeks pregnant with my first, plus sized, and miserably uncomfortable. My clothes won't stay where they are supposed to, and I keep shilling out money for things that people tell me are lifesavers, only to find them useless at best, and actively painful at worst. Please help me figure out how to clothe myself and get some sleep for these last two months.

1. Bella Band: instead of staying put like it's supposed to, mine almost immediately rolls up to make a narrow cinch around my "waist" and then, like a tensor bandage, gets tighter and tighter until I fidget with it or take it off. What am I doing wrong? At first I thought that maybe my belly wasn't big enough to hold it in place, but I definitely have a big belly now.

2. Maternity belt: I have this one from Thyme Maternity, (it's this type, but not as nice - it's the same narrow width all the way around). I wore it all day yesterday for the first time, and while it decreased my pain, by the end of the day it had scrunched its way into a bunch both underneath my belly and at my back. It's a stiff fabric, so this is uncomfortable, and also visible beneath my clothes, which it wouldn't be if it laid flat the way it is supposed to. Part of the problem is that, the back piece doesn't sit across my hips for long, it pulls up to the narrowest part at my lower back, and then the whole thing is sitting off-kilter.

3. Pillows: I borrowed the Snoogle from a friend and while it seems ok, it means I can't roll around in bed and switch positions, and I can't cuddle with my partner. I try arrangements of regular pillows, (one under my head, one under or between my knees (depending on if I am on my back or side) and one in my arms, but I get tangled up in the blankets and am not really comfortable anyway. How did you get comfy in bed? Were the wedge pillows worthwhile or a waste of money?

4. Are there other gadgets or strategies to help me look good and be comfortable in these last two months? What did you try that really was and wasn't worth it?

I work in an office, sitting most of the time, and will for seven more weeks. I live in a city with exactly one maternity store, which only carries a very limited selection of plus-sized clothing. The only time I've found plus-sized maternity clothes on Kijiji it was three hours away, so that's not a solution for me either. I had to drive three hours to buy the Bella Band, so it really frustrates me that it seems to be a piece of garbage.
posted by arcticwoman to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (25 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried putting the Bella Band on before you put on your pants (like a tube top on your stomach), and then folding the top of it over your unbuttoned pants? This might help it not ride up so much.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:48 AM on January 10, 2012

The best maternity work pants I found were from the GAP, Perfect Trouser pants. I wore these more than half the days at work. The other thing that worked well was dresses, as I didn't have to worry about shirts riding up. I work the Old Navy maternity leggings with the dresses which I mostly found at thrift stores, but I did buy one knit dress from Old Navy. As for tops, what worked best for me was again Gap undershirts with a variety of shirts, some my normal ones (which did ride up, but were okay since I had the undershirt that was plenty long and some things I got on sale at Gap, Old Navy and thrift stores. I bought stuff from Gap and Old Navy exclusively online and only when I had a coupon code or there was a sale. I actually just got a thing for 20% off maternity at Gap, if you want it, memail and I am happy to forward it.

As for sleeping- I didn't sleep well before pregnancy and it only got worse during. I ended up with one firm pillow and one down pillow under my head and then one behind me (against my back as I was on one side) and one to hug or shove between by knees. The full body pillow didn't work for me as I found it made it too hard to get out of bed (which I was/am doing 3-4 times per night).
posted by sulaine at 6:51 AM on January 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

The bella band was useless for me after my belly turned round. It always ended up under my boobs, somehow. The only way I was comfortable was in dresses with maternity leggings or tights. If you have a store that carries plus sized clothing (target or walmart will probably even work), look for shirts that have a band under the breasts and then flow out (I know these have a name - empire waist maybe?). Even if they aren't maternity, I managed to wear those for a long time. I also did a lot with tank tops/cardigan combinations - it's okay to wear a tighter shirt when you're pregnant, pregnant bellies are cute. I found the tighter tanks to be comfortable, and again, I think I went with cheap-not-maternity stuff.

Invest in two pairs of comfy maternity pants for work (black), and one pair of comfy maternity jeans (mine were from target).

Other things that helped me stay comfortable: drinking lots of water and walking every day (I know, but really, it helped! with delivery, too). Sleeping with a pillow between my knees and another one under my ankles helped more than the snoogle. In fact, pillows under my knees and ankles helped a lot even when sitting. Get up from your office chair and stretch, at least once an hour, if you can't take a short walk

Good luck. Congrats :)
posted by dpx.mfx at 6:52 AM on January 10, 2012

Can you size up in plus-sized clothing? I was plus-sized during my pregnancy, and most of my clothes were empire-waist tops/dresses a size or two up*, not proper maternity clothes. I, too made special trips to the one store in town that had maternity clothes for me, I really only bought bottoms there.

And I didn't find the Bella Band very useful, myself.

*for once I didn't mind clothes that made me look pregnant because I ACTUALLY WAS.
posted by pinky at 7:10 AM on January 10, 2012

Do you by chance have a recliner in your home? If not, is there a friend or family member with one you can borrow for a few weeks? Sleeping in our recliner in the living room was the only way I could get any sleep in those last few weeks. I took one of my bed pillows and a favorite blanket and pulled a small table over and put my clock radio on so it felt more like my bed. Yes, it stunk to be away from my partner and yes, it was hard not to move around, but in the end, I was happier when I was able to rest.
posted by bijou243 at 7:35 AM on January 10, 2012

Gap and the occasional Target have been my favorites for clothing, but I'm pretty petite.

JCPenny has a lot of plus sized clothing available online. I'd try there if I was you. Kohls (limited selection but good prices) had a great maternity coat, and I had a good experience ordering online.

I've never used the bella band. For pillows, I have one gigantic long pillow. It helps you keep you positioned on the side and gives you something to hug. It is somewhat possible for your better half to also hug the pillow, which is a close proximity to cuddling. It does make the blanket look like a mini-tent, but you get used to it. Switching sides still requires rearrangement.
posted by ejaned8 at 7:37 AM on January 10, 2012

I ended up using a Bella Band, a size smaller, as a belt to keep my maternity jeans up. I found it rode up anyway, so I used it as a soft spandex belt.

Target had some OK maternity clothes. I passed over the maternity pillows in favor of a $10 regular body pillow. It did the job.
posted by jerseygirl at 7:55 AM on January 10, 2012

My midwives suggested that hanging out in a recliner is not great for encouraging the baby to come out! Ask your doctor about sleeping positions for the best advice.

The bella band worked for me to help keep up loose pants, to make some pants more comfortable and to smooth over unruly full size panel pants. You can put the bella on first and then your pants and fold it over the top for those pants that go under your belly. This helps keep them up. You can also pull it on over full panel pants to smooth out the panel or make the panel more "huggy" if it's loose or gaps in some weird way. At 30 weeks, though, I don't think I had as much use for the bella. Loved it after the birth because I kept wearing those comfy full panel pants for like four months! It helped keep those on. I also liked it for covering my stomach for nursing.

Someone lent me their crazy u-shaped body pillow. It was terrible, I never got comfortable with it and felt claustrophobic. I slept really terribly the last ten weeks. You should borrow pillows from the couch, throw pillows for here and there, whatever works. I liked to lie on my side and have my husband snug a pillow up against my back. For some reason that was most comfortable. Of course, at some point I'd have to roll over and that would screw up my whole system. Just get as much sleep as you can and try not to stress about it too much.

I can't help you with the maternity belt. I suppose you could try different brands. I can't remember what mine was and I've passed it along. It was very stiff, not super comfortable but great if I had a lot of walking around to do. (Or bowling! Heh. I bowled up to my 35th week. It was pretty amusing.) If I was going to be sitting a lot, I wouldn't wear it because it would crease and be uncomfortable.

An unasked for suggestion: have you gone swimming yet? If you can, go get in a pool. I found the last ten weeks to just be really uncomfortable and getting in a pool was just the best thing. It lifts the weight of the baby out of your hips and lets you really move your body around in ways you can't right now. You're almost there, you just gotta get through it! Good luck!
posted by amanda at 8:03 AM on January 10, 2012

Have you tried maternity massages? My husband bought me a few for the last few weeks of pregnancy and it was awesome! It helped with the stress and all the pain from the baby.
posted by Sweetmag at 8:09 AM on January 10, 2012

I found that toward the end, it worked best to wear the Bella Bands two at a time, overlapping by about 1/2 in the middle, with the higher one worn underneath the lower. That way, the lower band helps keep the upper one from rolling up. If you don't want to spring for a second band, a little piece of something like Hollywood Garment Tape under the roll-prone edge might also help. You really just need to stop the roll from getting started.
posted by Bardolph at 8:52 AM on January 10, 2012

The last couple months of my pregnancy, I said to hell with dressing professionally at work, I'm just going to be comfortable. I found pants that were comfy (some were maternity pants with the full belly panel, those were MUCH more comfy than the kind that sit under the belly) but the most comfy pants I found were yoga-type pants that sat low on my hips under the belly but the waistband didn't have pinchy elastic. Bonus: these were also great postpartum and I lived in them during my maternity leave! If I were a dress-wearing type person, that would have also been great, though it's January so hello cold and drafty!!

As for sleep... I kicked my husband out to the guest room pretty early on, because I found I really needed the entire bed to be comfortable. Pillow under head, pillow between knees, pillow between arms, get up to pee and un-stiffen every hour or two, get back in bed on the other side (if I was on my left before, I'd get back in on my right), lather, rinse, repeat was what worked for me.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:56 AM on January 10, 2012

37 weeks here.

I'm living in gap maternity slacks with full panels. I didn't find the bella band or maternity belt comfortable. I sleep best (never well) alone, with a bunch of pillows under my arms, belly, knees. And a Tylenol pm every once in a while as a treat.
posted by semacd at 9:26 AM on January 10, 2012

I can't really help you with the clothes aspect, but I might be able to help with sleeping.

Try sleeping on the couch. Having my back against the couch with a body pillow under my belly and between my knees was quite comfy for me. Sometimes I would wedge (more accurately have hubby wedge) a small couch pillow at the small of my back.

I'm also a stomach sleeper, so I would rig pillows to that I could feel like I was laying on my tummy. I'd lay a body pillow where my right side would be and then stack another regular pillow on top of it at chest level and one at knee level. Laying on top of that I was tilted onto my left side (like all the books say you should be, dontcha know) but I still felt like I was sleeping on my stomach. I could still tuck my arms under my chest and get comfortable.

The last way that worked was similar to the couch method. I would put two body pillows right next to each other with just a few inches separating them. Once I was laying down I would shove another pillow under my belly and hubby would tuck another pillow at the small of my back. As my pregnancies progressed I'd also sometimes need another pillow between my knees.

In all of these positions I would have a pillow (sometimes two) under my head. I bought the second body pillow because I knew my husband would use it after I had the baby. As nice as those specialty pillows look I just couldn't see spending that much for something that would just take up too much space later.

Good luck and congratulations!
posted by TooFewShoes at 9:28 AM on January 10, 2012

Can you size up in plus-sized clothing? I was plus-sized during my pregnancy, and most of my clothes were empire-waist tops/dresses a size or two up*

I am plus sized (normally a 20) and I never bought a single true maternity item. I just sized up in regular (stretchy) clothes (and bought a lot at goodwill).

These pants from Lane Bryant, in particular, were a lifesaver. (Mine didn't have the zipper pockets.) I also had some pants from them that were similar to these Palazzo pants, but the wide leg style may not be right for you. Basically any pants that were a) stretchy, and b) had a wide waistband worked well. In plus sizes, the larger the size the longer the rise, so even if they weren't 100% over my belly, they stayed put.

I also had a couple of dresses similar to this dress from j.jill that were very stretching and forgiving so I didn't need to worry about the waist as much.

re: Diabetic socks: are you feet swelling up? That was a big issue for me (at the end I only had one pair of shoes that worked), but swimming (floating, really) would always resolve it, at least for a while. My basic role while pregnant was to wear the least restricting clothing I could, so I never considered compression socks.

re: sleeping: what, specifically, is your issue? Back pain? Trouble finding a comfortable position? If you can talk about that we can probably provide the best help.
posted by anastasiav at 10:01 AM on January 10, 2012

Yeah, the last trimester sucks, sorry. Like others I only found the maternity pants with a full panel to be the most comfy, and the most comfy where the ones with a weak elastic at the top so it didn't pinch uncomfortably. I didn't wear any special socks or anything, but I didn't have a lot of swelling. I did have major sciatic pain and I ended up wearing a belt thingy kinda like the maternity belt you linked to, but more industrial that the PTs gave me, but I wore that over the clothes and didn't care what people thought about me because it decreased the pain. Plus I was on crutches so I already looked silly to begin with.

As far as sleeping, no matter what I did I don't sleep well 3rd trimester (now or with my first). Pillows that are helpful will separate you from your honey, sorry. I find I dont' always need the back support, but the one under the belly is key. I have a little lima bean like one that I use under my belly and then on bad days I grab a regular pillow and shove it on my back. The upside to this arrangement is that if I want to roll over (which I find difficult to do now anyways) I have a belly and back pillow already set up on the other side. This gets rid of pain so I can sleep, but I still don't sleep well.
posted by katers890 at 10:47 AM on January 10, 2012

I stopped using the Bella Band in the 2nd tri. It just didn't work anymore for the shape I was. I mostly also stopped wearing pants because there was too much adjustment needed throughout the day. I had a nice black dress and a few in a print and I just rotated them with various cardigans. Old Navy has inexpensive maternity wear online that was fine for the limited amount of time it was needed.

For sleeping, it was easier for me to use a couple of smaller pillows that I could fiddle with as needed to get a more customized fit but generally, sleep just sucks in the 3rd trimester and it really doesn't get any better until your child is about 2 years old.

posted by otherwordlyglow at 11:15 AM on January 10, 2012

Comfort in maternity clothes totally varies person to person. Everyone told me how much I would love full-panel trousers when the time came and I just could not stand them. I stayed in below-the-belly trousers and jeans the whole way through. I also loved the Gap Perfect Trouser pants--those go up to size 18, which may or may not be useful to you. (I'm quite long-waisted, so I found that the full panels never quite made it to the top of the bump but there was some room beneath it.)

I got a lot of my maternity clothes at Target.com and Oldnavy.com which both have some plus-sized clothes, depending on what your actual size is. They don't have to last long, so they stay looking nice. Plus once you're in those last few weeks, people totally understand if you wear the same pair of pants 3 times a week if that's all you can stand to be in.

I only found the Bella Band (I actually had a Be Band from Target) useful before I had much of a belly, when I was using it to keep my unzipped pants up before I finally got some maternity clothes, and then postpartum when I could aaaaalmost fit back into my clothes. It does tend to require readjusting every few hours.

I have a friend who loved her wedge pillow and another who adored her body pillow but I could never get comfortable with a bunch of pillows. I think my friends don't move around a lot when they sleep. I tend to move around a LOT at night and they just got in my way. Seconding the recliner. We ended up getting a secondhand reclining glider off Craigslist for nursing several months after the baby was born and I could not believe how comfortable it was to nap in. Wish I'd known when I was pregnant.

The answer, I'm afraid, is to try out a bunch of different stuff from stores with generous return policies and decide what works for you.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 11:41 AM on January 10, 2012

Secret Fit Belly pants from Motherhood. They are magnificently comfortable and will not ride up, ride down, whatever. If you can afford it, get at least a pair of jeans and a pair of black pants with the Secret Fit panel. They are worth every penny. (If you can't afford it, MeMail me and tell me what size you are and I'll let you know if I have anything that I can send you.)

I found the Bella Band ridiculously useless. It did the same thing on me that it does on you, and made me insane. The Snoogle also sucked. I don't really have good alternatives for either of those, but you are not the only one who has issues with them.
posted by feathermeat at 11:58 AM on January 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

The Motherhood pants feathermeat mentions are the ones I loved too. I have to hike them up every so often, but they are the most comfortable things I own. I have a pair of jeans from Old Navy that look better because they fit the rest of my legs better, but the elastic on the top hits my belly at a bad place and is really thick so it's noticeable to me and uncomfortable. I actually just did some repair work on my pair to get them to last through this pregnancy. Ordering online is going to be your friend here give your location, just check the return policies on everything. Motherhood will refund your money, but not shipping and won't pay for shipping back. Old Navy was also somewhat obnoxious
posted by katers890 at 12:20 PM on January 10, 2012

I just checked online for the Secret Fit Belly pants - they only go to XL, which they indicate is 16-18 pre-pregnancy, FYI.
posted by tristeza at 12:54 PM on January 10, 2012

Ugh, I'm an idiot!! Ignore me, I wasn't apparently in their "plus size" section.
posted by tristeza at 12:56 PM on January 10, 2012

I am plus-sized but not as far along (24 weeks).

I started to use the wedge pillow about 2 weeks ago and it has helped me sleep so much better. I am still able to cuddle with hubby and it supports my belly.

This is the one I have, from a Canadian site (I see you are in Canada): http://www.cheekymonkey.ca/DexPregnancypillow.htm

I have sized up my clothes (I'm an 18 pre-pregnancy) and am wearing 22 pants. So, kinda baggy in the legs but work well around the waist. I picked up some good deals from Talbots Plus. Their stuff is a little pricey but great quality (which I needed for work). They have stuff on sale now: http://www.talbots.com/online/browse/category_landing_horizontal.jsp?rootCategory=cat70012&id=cat70012&section=Regular

Wishing you all the best with your pregnancy!
posted by teacup at 4:25 PM on January 10, 2012

A 3" memory foam mattress topper completely eliminated my hip pain, which started about midway through my pregnancy. It also was (and is) a wonderful ease on my back and pelvic pain. 2 months away might be too close for you to make a big investment, but it's worth considering if you're having that kind of discomfort.

Pillows: I settled on one extra for my belly/knees, standard size, and constructed an elaborate method for turning over with it. Spooning is totally possible, and when you're facing your partner, you both can kind of reach across and rest your hands and legs on each other.

Back to turning over in bed: satiny sheets and PJs help immensely.

I wasn't plus-sized, but my belly was twin-sized. I found stretchy, low pants and long, loose shirts to be the least miserable. The maternity belt was torture no matter what I did with it, so I can't help you there.

You didn't mention bras, but I found the nursing sports-type bras to be most comfortable near the end and while nursing and sleeping.

Do you have a reacher/grabber? I sure wish I'd had one when I was preggers.
posted by moira at 9:31 PM on January 10, 2012

Nthing the feathermeat Motherhood Maternity pants. They are true to size for me (22/24=2x at MM), and I order them online because going into maternity stores sucks. Do not bother with the kind that only go part way up- they hurt my belly and cause BH if I wear them too long. You want the ones you can tuck up under your bra to assist with the skootching down problem and not put undue pressure on the fundus.

Forget sizing up in regular plus sized clothes too. As a plus sized lady, I want to experience everything about being pregnant, even if I just look fatter to the rest of the world. This includes maternity clothes. They make me feel a bit better about myself, and maybe it's in my head, but I think they help round out the lumpy belly to make it look less fat and more preg.

Personally, I find Bella bands to be absolutely perfect for *after* the baby is born and you can wear regular clothes again (well, you know- the new definition of regular). Why? Hiding the belly and back when you are nursing that new babe! Tuck the top under your bra and you have an instant nursing tank that is actually supportive!

And, finally, might I suggest that the support belt might maybe be doing more harm than good? It can cause some muscle weakness. Find yourself a chiropractor certified in the Webster Technique and see what he or she thinks. I don't know how anyone survives a pregnancy without a chiropractor.
posted by LyndsayMW at 7:21 PM on January 11, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you for all the suggestions everyone. It's nice to hear that I am not the only person who struggled with the Bella Band. everything I've seen online has been so overwhelmingly positive that I really felt alone in finding them useless.

I've sized up in a few shirts, but like Lyndsay I've felt that real maternity clothes help me look more pregnant and less fat. I forgot how often plus-sized shirts are made with that empire waist though, which is essentially a maternity shirt, so I'll give sizing up another chance.

Most of the stores that were mentioned are not available to me (I live in Canada, and while I have a Gap and an Old Navy in town, neither have a maternity section. Hell, even our Walmart doesn't carry maternity clothes.) Good suggestions for other pregnant women who might come across this thread though. I've never felt comfortable buying clothes online due to my weird proportions, but I should just check the measurements and give it a try.

The foam mattress topper is a great idea. I've borrowed a (thinner, it's all I could get) foam mattress from a friend and will try it out tonight.

Anyway, thank you for all the suggestions and ideas. I appreciate it.
posted by arcticwoman at 6:38 PM on January 18, 2012

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