I’m Not Quite Kareena; Here’s The Strange Reason I Never Got Good Maternity Wear In India

Posted: April 3, 2019

I shopped around a lot for maternity wear, but found very few options. And finally, after a longish time, I realised what the real reason for this was.

Luckily for me, I began to shop for maternity wear much before the waist began to thicken. I want to stress on the ‘lucky’ bit, because quality maternity wear is as elusive as the Loch Ness monster. You have to be pretty damn lucky to find it!

This being my first baby, I was understandably excited about showing off my soon-to-be-visible baby bump. I had in mind a new wardrobe a la Kareena Kapoor Khan, Soha Ali Khan and the like. How pretty they all looked flaunting their shiny new bumps!

I couldn’t wait to emulate the Bollywood brigade! I needed some dresses to wear at weekend lunches, a pastel outfit for the baby shower (because getting pregnant = baby shower right?), smart work-wear (because I planned to work full term), and the odd pair of exercise pants (because it doesn’t hurt to be ambitious).

A little bit of googling yielded a bunch of new stores! ‘Mom and baby’ stores have been popping up as numerous as the Radhika Apte shows on Netflix. Unfortunately, unlike Radhika Apte’s acting, they have zero versatility. They cannot even handle two departments. They are not ‘Mom and baby’, they are only about ‘THE BABY’.

Hold on, you want to say to them, the baby is about eight months away, how about taking care of the Mom first?

Not really ‘Mom and Baby’

The first store I went to had aisles and aisles of baby stuff. Stuff you didn’t even know a baby needed. You want a dinosaur costume for your one-month old? Here it is! (Don’t ask me why a one-month old needs to be dressed as a dinosaur). How about a Batman bib, a Peppa Pig pram, or Disney diapers? Sure, they had them all. They had arrays of onesies, bibs, feeding bottles, baby wipes, diapers, diaper bags, little booties, mittens, socks, bath towels, blankets, rattles, prams, car seats, high chairs, booster chairs and more. Almost an entire universe dedicated to the baby!

And then, in a corner of the store, there was a teeny-tiny ‘Maternity’ section. It was so tiny that it could only hold one pregnant woman at a time while simultaneously making the woman feel like a lumbering bear in a little china shop. The section contained some very plain nursing bras, the token pair of maternity pants and a couple of dismal-looking nursing nighties. As if all a new mom is allowed to do is stay at home and nurse away! I turned my nose up at these appalling choices and went on to visit the next store.

Maternity high fashion?

My next visit was to a fashionable clothing store that boasted of a maternity section in its website.

I scoured the entire store, but the promised section was nowhere to be seen. Finally, I asked a salesperson for help. “Of course Ma’am”, she said and led me to a section of XL sized dresses. The idea was that if you are an M size to begin with, you wear an XL size when you’re pregnant. What a genius idea! In a world where pregnant women shoot up a couple of dress sizes, this would have been perfect. (Fortunately) however, it’s mostly just the belly that grows. The arms, legs and the rest of you stays pretty much the same! So, an XL sized dress looks very much like a tent on the rest of your M-sized body.

Also, how about mommas who are plus-sized to begin with? What are they supposed to do for maternity wear? Whatever happened to being politically-correct?

Hitting a tiny jackpot

I hit a (small) jackpot at the next store. They had lovely cotton and silk dresses with an adjustable waist for the burgeoning waistline. They were available in different SIZES. Unlike the previous store, they had not assumed that all pregnant women are the same XL size. However, there’s always a fly in the ointment, and in this case, it was the lack of variety. Just three styles and I got all three of them.

After a few more tries – and by tries I mean long scouting sessions at malls with intermittent pee breaks and mild first-trimester nausea– I finally gave up. I resigned myself to mostly poor sartorial choices for a good bit of the nine months.

Then by some godly intervention, (or perhaps intensive data-mining algorithms), Facebook took pity on me and began to show me adverts of almost Parisian maternity-wear. Aha, I said to myself. Never mind Facebook privacy concerns if I could get a few good dresses out of it!

Alas, they just looked good online. After a couple of exchanges, calls, mails and refunds, I finally got a set of personalized maternity T-shirts. I realized later, that I still didn’t have any maternity pants to wear with them.

The A-Ha! moment

Anyway, I was now three dresses richer. And believe me, for the last three months of the pregnancy, I lived in them. Them, and some loose shorts coupled with the husband’s T-shirts. It was an endless cycle of Wash-Wear-Repeat.

But guess what? This prepared me for the baby. Much the same with soiled cloth diapers, you know. Wash-Wear-Repeat is the mom-mantra. So no, ‘mom-and-baby’ shops are not being stupid/ incompetent/ witless/ size-ist/ sexist or whatever other nasty epithets I gave them. They are actually looking out for me and for all the pregnant women out there. They are just trying to prepare us for the endless diaper changes and bum-washing. How very considerate!

Image source: YouTube

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Yashodhara is a brand-new mommy, IT professional and cat lover who lives in Mumbai.

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