Courtesy of Jam Kotenko

The $10 Dress That Every New Mom Needs

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Let’s be very, very honest about this — pregnancy and childbirth change your body. Regardless of what tabloid headlines about celebrities’ post-baby bodies and Instagram #fitspo posts might tell you, the reality is that your body’s going to look and feel a little different after having kids — which means your clothes will probably look and feel different, too. Luckily, you don’t have to wear your maternity jeans and your partner’s ratty old college sweatshirts forever (unless you want to!). Mom Jeans is Romper’s guide to helping you figure out your postpartum wardrobe during the first few months postpartum and beyond.

Fashion is a hard field to navigate once you become with child. Not only is maternity wear notoriously expensive, it is also hit-or-miss when it comes to finding pieces that fit different stages of your pregnant body. Personally, it was too overwhelming for me to get into full force, so I ended up using some of my regular clothes as my pregnancy garb.

Transitioning regular clothes into something that can work with a growing baby bump can be tricky — some materials don't stretch at all. I found that a lot of my favorite shirts to wear as a non-pregnant petite woman no longer fit comfortably. They were suddenly tight at the armpits because of my growing boobs and didn’t do such a great job protecting my already protruding belly from the elements.

That’s when dresses came into the picture. I loved wearing dresses pre-pregnancy and I hoped I would be able to continue to do so for the next nine months. Even though I had a few that ended up looking cute on me and my baby bulge, there was one particular dress that became my go-to, and it only cost me $10 to buy.

Bodycon Dress, $10, Forever 21

Courtesy of Jam Kotenko

This Forever 21 bodycon dress may not look like a suitable maternity dress, but somehow it worked. Every woman needs a little black dress (LBD) in her wardrobe, preferably one that fits well and makes you feel confident and good about yourself. Since this bargain find ticked all the boxes for me even before I got pregnant, I had hoped that it would carry over to my maternity months, and I’m so glad it did!

Unfortunately, the back knit bodycon dress that I bought online is currently out of stock on Forever21’s website – for a measly $10, why wouldn’t it be? However, there are a few similar, still-affordable styles available on Amazon (and they also come in different colors): $14 and $18 for a racerback type dress (which is the same as the one that I got), or if you want to explore other neck cuts, there are cute alternatives for $16 and $17.

Courtesy of TheMogan Brand/Amazon

Black is a basic color that you can easily dress up or down and pair with any accessory or shoe. Even though I had bought this particular dress to wear during the summer, I was able to wear it during the colder months, which was when I was in my third trimester. I wore it with my favorite blanket cardigan for a rare night out with my husband. I also wore it to my surprise baby shower, where I got a lot of compliments for it.

After I gave birth, I focused on wearing tops that gave me easy access to my breasts for feeding my child. I also found myself wearing yoga pants a lot. My trusty LBD remained in my closet for a long time because I felt like I didn’t have any reason to put it on and it seemed unnecessary to wear it inside the house.

For several months postpartum, I didn’t exactly feel too excited about my body. I knew I had just popped out a child from inside me so it was of course still a tiny bit stretched out in certain places, but I found myself feeling slightly insecure anyway. And during a few of those months, I found myself feeling depressed over past experiences and not quite like my usual cheery self. I was in a rut and I certainly looked it.

But one ordinary day, I decided to do something different. I decided to take some mommy me time, go out, and do something for myself. I headed for my closet, looked for something to wear, and without hesitation, grabbed my trusty LBD.

Courtesy of Jam Kotenko

People say you ought to dress the way you want to feel, and immediately I felt a hundred times better. I didn’t care if I had flabs in all sorts of places — I felt light, confident, and comfortable, which as far as I’m concerned should be the definition of sexy.

I don’t think I would ever get rid of this dress, and should the time come that it wears out or becomes ratty with age, I am sure I will be able to find one again (or three!) that will make me feel like me before, during, and after pregnancy.

Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.