Everything You Need to Know about Ethical and Eco-Friendly Maternity Clothes

by - Monday, July 13, 2020

Everything You Need to Know about Ethical and Eco-Friendly Maternity Clothes

You are pregnant, so of course you want to make the world a better place for your coming baby! One of the ways to do this is to change your approach to how you shop- our purchases have huge environmental and ethical effects. When we buy fast fashion (which can be pretty appealing when you will only need the clothes for a few months), we endorse pollution, unsafe working conditions, and the destruction of our environment. Clothing is one of the biggest polluters in the world, so it makes sense to want to avoid buying into those problems. 

That said, you need clothes, because everything is getting tighter and rounder. So what do you do? This is everything you need to know, from brands to stores to resources, to make ethical choices when shopping for maternity clothes.

1. Make What You Already Have Work  

(And Plan to Make What You Do Buy Work Longer)

Every body and every pregnancy is different, but there is a good chance that a lot of what you have will still work through the pregnancy. Roomy dresses, high-waisted tops, really anything with some give might still work. 

 It can be so tempting to get to shopping the second you find out you are pregnant, but the best thing you can do is hold out and ask what you already have. You should look for

- Maxi Dresses (or dresses with high waistlines)
- Skirts and Pants with elastic waistbands
- Stretchy and yoga pants
- Oversized, flowy tops. Peplum Tops.

You can also give what you buy more use than you might expect (if you strategize right). When you leave the hospital with your baby, you will look about 5 months pregnant. That 4th trimester, your best case scenario is to mostly keep wearing the stuff you already bought, rather than buying even more clothes for a body that is still in flux. This means a few things- 

- If you are going to nurse, buy maternity clothes you can nurse in. Buy v neck t-shirts instead of crew necks, things where you can get your boob out easily. 
- If you need to buy bras for your growing nunjas, just buy a nursing one. 
- Pick things that will stretch and be comfortable for those first few months spent mostly at home with a newborn.

Thinking strategically about what you buy will save you money, and you will need to buy less. The most ethical thing any of us can do is to just buy less. 

2. Get it Secondhand

We have a 90/10 Rule here; 90% of our clothes are bought secondhand, and then we fill in what we can't find secondhand with ethical options. That may be even more important for maternity clothes- you use it for a relatively short time, so why waste money getting all new things? Every item you get secondhand keeps more clothing out of landfills, minimizes pollution, and eliminates energy and plastic waste from shipping.

Doing this is pretty easy, especially when you consider how much moms love getting rid of stuff. So here are the steps to take: 

- Ask around for hand me downs. If you have mom friends already, ask if they have any clothes to share. If you don't know anyone with kids yet, join some Facebook parenting or Buy Nothing groups in your area (if you aren't in a Buy Nothing group yet, join one! Trust me, it is worth it). Just post that you are pregnant and looking for pregnancy clothes. I bet someone will be more than happy to lend or gift things to you. I have handed off most of my clothes after every pregnancy, and I receive exponentially more at the beginning of the next one. The more these items get passed around, the better! 

- Check out your local kids consignment stores. Lots of kids consignment spots also have good maternity sections. It can give you a chance to try things on to figure out what you like in person.
- Check Thred Up. They have a great maternity section where new things are added every day. It's well worth checking out, and you can start watching their baby clothes as well. 

- Check EBay. If there is a brand you particularly love, but they aren't necessarily ethical (Hatch, Yumi Kim, Seraphine, etc), you can find them on EBay at a fraction of the price without having to buy them new. There is usually over 50,000 maternity items on there, so it is well worth checking this out. 

- You can also rent! Rent the Runway and some of the other fashion rental websites have maternity sections, so if you have a larger event coming up, you can wow everyone for less money and WAY less environmental impact. 

from Dwell & Slumber

3. Check out Ethical Maternity Brands

Even with all of these resources, there may be something you need to get new. There aren't a ton of ethical options out there for maternity clothes, but there are a few. I will also say where each company is manufacturing, because the shorter distances your clothes travel, the better. 

Bamboo Body- This Australian brand uses bamboo fabrics to get the stretchiness in their surprisingly large maternity section. Might be perfect if you want a lot of stretch without so much plastic. 

Christy Dawn- This LA based brand uses rejected fabrics to make their long flowy dresses, and they have a maternity section, which is basically dresses that can work with a bump or without. This could be the perfect forgiving dress to keep wearing well into mommyhood as well. 

Dwell and Slumber- These beautiful dresses and robes are ethically sewn in the USA. The kind of loose and easy dress that can be used well into the fourth trimester. This is the dress you wear again and again.

Hatch- This brand is also based in America (though I cannot find straight information about its current manufacturing, so check each item individually), tends to use organic and chemical-free materials, and makes gorgeous clothes. It's also freaking expensive (perfect for checking out on EBay as well). 

Pact- This brand seems to be expanding what they have for pregnancy and nursing. They have fair trade and organic cotton options for things like bras and leggings, so well worth checking out! 

Storq - Storq makes the perfect basic clothing is mostly made of Tencel (as opposed to plastic-based stretchy fabrics, but more on that later) and are partially made in the US, but not all. You have to check. 

If you are looking for things that are made in America, I would check out Storq, Majamas, and Pink Blush Maternity. Neither are perfect, and you need to look at specific items, but they are options. 

Everything You Need to Know about Ethical and Eco-Friendly Maternity Clothes

4. Look Out for Fibers

Maternity clothes tend to be stretchy; they need to be since we are stretching out too! That said, if you are prioritizing the environment (especially plastics) try to avoid 100% plastic-based synthetics like Spandex, Elastene, and Lycra. These plastic fabrics shed plastic microfibers in every wash (100,000 per wash). These tiny fibers get washed out to our water sources, so all living things are ingesting plastic every single day. This is a huge problem. 

The best option is to do plant-based synthetic fibers, usually called either Tencel or Modal instead. If you can't do it, consider checking out something to put in you washing machine like a Cora Ball or My Guppy Friend bags to filter some of the plastic out. 

Everything You Need to Know about Ethical and Eco-Friendly Maternity Clothes

Congratulations of your pregnancy and on your baby! If you are looking for WAY more information about how to shop ethically for this pregnancy and baby, check out the Green and Ethical Baby Registry. We have so much information to share! 

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