Next week, Oak turns three. And while the postpartum period took place over 600 and something days ago, the feeling of that transition is still fresh in my mind. I remember the way it felt to wear this black dress and sling him across my body. He was just a few days old and I hauled myself to the East Village for his first doctor’s appoitment. I took the train, adjusting him to the city’s soundtrack and and stood up pressed agains the Q train window, admiring the bridge’s connection—Brooklyn to Manhattan. I thought about how he had no idea the world he was inheriting. How small and grand our worlds were in that one minute.
As much as I wish it wasn’t, how I felt about my postpartum body, and what I was wearing to match that comfort, is as much of that story as any thing else.
Months later, when the ache of a newborn subsided, my body acclimated again.
I was 20 pounds lighter, then 40. But at nearly two years postpartum, I still hadn’t returned to my pre-baby size. It wasn’t just the weight though; things shifted in general. My hips doubled in width and when I was done breastfeeding, my breasts deflated beyond recognition. Hello, new body. I had to get to know it all over again.
When Oak first arrived, I did what I had spent my time telling others to do: Slow assessment, acceptance, shop, enjoy. Getting dressed is the last thing to worry about. Still, before we bring a baby into the world, our vintage 509’s rest in the front of our closest and minds. (A weird secret moment of triumph: when Oak was four weeks, I texted my best friend Lauren and bragged that I’d fit into my cutoffs. Really, I squeezed in them.)
Why my body still seems to be evolving, many of you have asked about getting dressed after babies. Styling my post partum body–and actually enjoying it—is becoming a sweet sweet fruit of labor. Well, at least part of the fruit—Oak’s not so bad either. 😉
If you happen to find yourself navigating a postpartum body this summer, here are five pieces you you should invest in:
1. A muumuu or any loosely dropped dress. Many of my muumuus dresses are vintage, but there are many readily available options if you don’t have the time to search for one you like. They’re comfortable and can easily be dressed up or down. Whether you are 40 pounds heavier or 20 pounds lighter, they are also fantastic and flowing with any postpartum stage you are in. There’s no pressure, just comfort and beauty. This embroidered one is perfect for a night out, this one is perfect for breastfeeding, and there is no shortage on Etsy if you want to go the vintage route.
2. Stretch cut-offs. So while I was pretty proud that one afternoon after Oak was born, I could barely sit without the urge to un-botton my pants. When dealing with any extra weight, stretchy shorts that you can easily tuck a breastfeeding friendly t-shirt or tank in this summer is key. Dark denim can be worn several times a week and look different with each look. When wanting to dress up (say for a night without the babe) you can knot a an oversized button-up and layer a few necklaces and bam. Wear them with sneakers, sandals, espadrilles.
3. Culottes with an expandable waste. I found that while I had pants that buttoned, I disliked the way buttons felt against my new stomach. It was more of a sensory issue. Pants with an expandable waist are key when navigating your postpartum body. A few here, here, and here.
4. Jumpsuits. A year after I had Oak, there was all this online hype surrounded around the jumpsuit. When it kind of came around the media circulation I was a. excited and b. like duh! Jumpsuits need no explanation, there’s just a special place in my closet for them every day, every month, every year, and with every single pregnancy and post.
5. Anything that fits and makes you feel good. And I really mean that. If something doesn’t fit, it doesn’t have to right now. Put it in the back and just try your best to forget about it. Embrace the extra curves and the baby you have. I know it sounds hard, but when you remove things out of your sight, you forget about them.
If you’re in the postpartum period, what worked for you? We also lived by this wrap!