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Why do I have to 'dress like a mum' just because I'm pregnant?

Liv Humby asks why there's pressure on women to don a standard 'mum-uniform' in pregnancy

Split screen photo of influencer in outfits
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I’m not an expert on motherhood, but I am a 30-year-old woman halfway through my first pregnancy and my bump is really making an appearance, which is both gorgeous and bewildering.

As I start this motherhood journey, the pressure to change who you are to meet the standards of the ‘mother label’ is staggering.

Due to my job as an online content creator, I get countless messages of unsolicited advice, and I'm seeing the societal pressures placed upon mothers play out in real-time.

Liv shares her pregnancy outfits with her followers
View post on Instagram
 

Since sharing my pregnancy online, I've been shamed for 'exposing myself' and told constantly that I should act accordingly now that I'm a mother – but what does that even mean? How do these commenters want me to dress and act now that I'm pregnant?

My personal style

I’m trying to find/keep my personal style while my bump grows and that’s tricky in itself as growing a baby (while a huge privilege) is uncomfortable and so are certain pieces of clothing I’d usually reach for. Farewell, jeans.

But, I don’t want to lose the person that loves fashion and styling cute outfits. Why should I?

I spoke to a friend, a part-time HR manager and mother of one, who shared her take on the topic: "As women, we have to find and pay for clothes that fit us both before and after the baby. This then means that style to mothers feels like a luxury.

"Not only because our income is capped during maternity leave, but also because once the baby is here you feel guilty for spending money on yourself over your child. You end up either making do with basics or giving up on the style you once had."

Smiling lady in floral top
Liv Humby questions the pressure put on mothers

Looking the part

Another friend, who is a full-time deputy head teacher and mother of three children under five, found that it was the pressure of ‘looking the part’ that got to her.

"Pregnancy and motherhood can be lonely and I felt that I needed to keep up the appearance of being ‘put together’ as I felt it would mean the other mums would want to be friends with me.

 READ: Why didn't anyone warn me how bad mum guilt would be? 

"The constant worry other mums are judging me for looking dishevelled and tired made me feel like I’d be even more alone."

Then, there is this outdated notion of the practical, modest mum, or as it’s more commonly known ‘the frumpy mum’.

Woman taking a mirror selfie in green dress© Instagram
Liv has taken to midaxi dresses in pregnancy

The mum uniform

Many of us don’t want to fall into the mum uniform of leggings and oversized sweaters, but those who do are more respected.

A friend, teacher and mum to three kids under four told me: "The mum vibe isn’t for everyone, but it gets you taken more seriously as a mother, it’s practical, samey and ageless."

 READ: Nobody told me motherhood would bring so much darkness and joy simultaneously 

But why does this uniform warrant respect? Is it because they’re seen to be putting their child's needs ahead of their own aesthetic needs and style?

Losing my sense of self


Right now, I don’t want to subscribe to any of these ideas. There is part of me that wonders, am I losing my identity in pregnancy or am I evolving?

At the moment, I’m leaning into wide-leg trousers with stretchy waistbands like my favorites from ELR Style or I’m straight into maternity leggings with a chunky trainer and an oversized wool coat.

woman taking a mirror selfie in leather trousers © Instagram
Liv's style has been evolving in pregnancy

My bump has had a growth spurt in the last week and I’ve unexpectedly gravitated towards fitted midaxi dresses, which usually wouldn’t be my style but I feel like I want to show off the bump now I have one.

With the baby due in the summer, and not quite knowing how my body is going to change, I’m really hoping my old floaty dresses are going to keep me going and stop me swimming in my own sweat.

Regardless, with everything else mothers are going through pre and postnatal, surely this is a pressure we do not need? However, several multimillion-dollar industries rely on marketing to these insecurities so perhaps that’s why it continues…

 See more from Liv on Instagram and visit HELLO!'s Out Loud hub for inspirational taboo-busting content.

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