For the past 10 or so years, I have committed to only buying second hand or ethical and sustainable clothes. It’s been pretty easy except for when I’ve had to go to a fancy party like a wedding and take a few weeks searching through charity shops to find an attractive number! When I fell pregnant I was really concerned I’d have enough to wear. It was really difficult to find eco friendly maternity and nursing wear! Here’s what helped me to keep my commitment to being as sustainable as possible.
Mothers En Vogue
Mothers En Vogue is a small business specialising in maternity wear based out of Singapore. They only use natural materials for their clothes, and some of them are organic cotton. Much of their maternity wear doubles up as nursing wear and is very cleverly designed. Everything I bought from them worked as both maternity and nursing wear. I found this brand to be the easiest and most discreet clothing for nursing. I really love their nursing shawl – there are two buttons on the inside of the shoulders at the top making it really easier to cover baby on either breast. My favourite buy was the maxi dress, because it stayed super comfortable until the end of the pregnancy and still looked attractive because of the cut. It was also a really hot summer here, and the maxi dress is made of modal, a type of material made from wood pulp. It feels like bamboo/viscose and is great for keeping cool. I got another dress in green from the same material. I also have a navy blue one which suits colder weather. Below you’ll see me at 5 and 6 months pregnant.
Here I am nursing Oisín in the park with the nursing shawl!
The main con is that those shipping miles will clock up a lot on your carbon footprint! Be careful of customs costs too. I felt a few items were worth it as I will use them a lot!
H&M did me a great favour by having a range of organic cotton maternity wear. Just keep an eye out for the eco conscious label! I wore the organic cotton leggings a lot, especially when I got bigger and the maternity jeans I had were no longer comfy. Here’s a picture of me wearing their simple nursing tank top with leggings. The other half and I were campaigning for a political cause in Ireland and I painted my belly at 8 months pregnant!
The only downfall is not being sure how well the workers of high street stores are treated.
Reuse what you have
In the image above I’m also wearing an organic cotton cardigan from my favourite ethical clothing company, People Tree. They have very high standards for their factory workers and are certified Fair Trade. They have some dresses that are quite flowy also that work for when you are a bit bigger. When I first started showing I was just wearing some bigger clothes I had, for example at Christmas I wore a babydoll style dress from ethical clothing company Nomad’s. I’m still tiny at this stage and the dress fit me most of the pregnancy (it would have been the whole pregnancy except it was a bit short!).
I also had another maxi style Nomad’s dress that still fit me when I was 6 months pregnant. Existing maxi dresses in your wardrobe are ideal for maternity summer wear!
Years ago I bought two similar dresses from a charity shop that are maxi style and tie simply with a string or belt. Below you can see me wearing one in the birthing bath that I used during labor! I’m 39 weeks pregnant here. The dress fit me until baby’s arrival and was super comfortable!
Second hand and vintage
Buy on eBay & Facebook
I bought some nursing dresses on eBay second hand after the baby arrived that will get a lot of extra use. You can filter by “used” on eBay to make sure you buy second hand. I also got a really great coat seen below which is part wool. It was good enough to wear to Yosemite National Park in February when it was quite cold. Along with that you can see some maternity jeans I bought from a second hand Facebook group. Apart from Facebook marketplace there are groups by locale which sell second hand clothes.
I love buying from charity shops because it’s such a win win, your money goes to a good cause as well as being eco friendly. Most recently, I’ve also started only buying natural fibres; cotton, silk, wool, modal, tencel and clothes made from bamboo. The reason is because polyester fibres end up in our water supply and therefore our environment and food. If you already own some acrylic, polyester etc that you’d like to wear, you can use something like a Guppy bag to catch the fibres in your washing machine.
Ask for the eco option
Family and friends will undoubtedly want to buy you and your little one presents at this time. Oisín is wearing organic cotton in the pictures here because my friends and family respected my wishes for the eco option. It’s important to make it clear that you don’t expect such a quantity – eco can be more expensive so ask your relatives gently to buy quality, not quantity! I asked for only natural fibres, second hand is okay if in good condition, and mentioned that organic cotton is a great option. Our baby registry reflected these wishes and I’m really grateful that people honoured them! Below I’m wearing a nursing dress in organic cotton that my mum had tailor made for me. It has a handy opening for that all important easy access!
But ideally we’d never have to buy things, so use less is best!