How To: Wear your jackets while pregnant (Make My Belly Fit Review)

If you’re outdoorsy and anything like me, you probably have a large collection of technical jackets you carefully choose from for every outing and lovingly care for.  While I was pregnant, I was able to use my regular jackets until the last trimester which unfortunately coincided with winter.  Leaving jackets unzipped or wearing sweaters were ok in the city but wouldn’t cut it for doing anything active outdoors.  I looked into regular maternity jackets but they turned out to be expensive and mostly “fashion-style” jackets that were more appropriate for the city.

Stealing husbands’ jackets is most common solution I heard to this problem.  Unfortunately my husband only has one down jacket so using it wasn’t an option.  I was, however, able to borrow some of his hardshells and fleeces.

Hubby's fleece and down vest on permanent loan

Snowshoeing at Ptarmigan Cirque with hubby’s fleece and down vest on permanent loan

I was curious to try out Mountain Mama, which makes maternity activewear, but they don’t carry insulated winter jackets.  On a side note, I did buy one of their dresses (Isabelle Maternity Midi Dress) and loved it!  It turned out to be one of my favourite maternity outfits as the fabric was super soft, stretchy and seemed to fit well as I got bigger. (Note – I found the dress ran true to my pre-maternity size).  I’d love to try out more of their clothes, as activewear for use during pregnancy or while nursing is *so* hard to find.

Finally, I decided I on buying a jacket extender panel that I originally saw in a review on Adventures in Parenthood Project.  It’s called Make My Belly Fit and is a black softshell panel that you zip onto your jacket.  It has snaps on the front to allow you to make your jacket bigger or smaller on the top, bottom or both. You can also purchase a matching fleece panel to snap on the inside if it’s really cold out.  I bought both.  Below is a little review of the panel.

Enjoying the jacket panel on a cold day while snowshoeing at Bragg Creek

Enjoying the jacket panel on a cold day while snowshoeing at Bragg Creek

How does it attach to your jacket? Can you switch between jackets?

The zipper it comes with fit 3 of my jackets.  For the rest I would have had to buy a zipper adapter which I opted not to do as I figured I would be ok with the ones it did fit.  It’s worth checking if it will fit your partner’s jacket as they might want to use it for carrying the baby (see below).

How does it look?

Better than I thought it would! I thought it would look out of place but black matches pretty much everything and I got several compliments on it when I wore it with my Patagonia softshell.  Someone asked when Patagonia had started making maternity jackets (ha!).

Is it warm enough? Does it work?

YES! Even on cold days when I went snowshoeing and wore it with a down jacket, I was more than warm enough and didn’t need the fleece insert.  The panel blocked the wind very well and was water (snow) resistant. I liked that it zipped onto 3 of my jackets so I had some variety in what I could wear.  It was also long enough to zip up to the top of all my jackets.

Post-baby usage?

The bonus with this panel is it’s just as useful post-baby as pre-baby! Firstly, you don’t go back to your original size right away so you’ll still need a jacket that fits afterwards.  Secondly, it’s great for when you want to take a walk with your baby in a carrier.  For little winter babies, it’s so hard to know how to dress them to keep them warm outside.  With the panel, I could dress baby up in a fleece sleeper, stick her in my Boba carrier with a hat, and carry her under my jacket so I knew she’d be warm and out of the wind (I used the fleece insert when I did this).  Baby dressing guesswork: gone!  The panel would be useful until baby is big enough that his/her legs reach below the hem of your jacket.  I’d guess this would be around 4-5 months though I never got to this point as the weather had warmed up by then and I didn’t need to wear a jacket.

Hope this helps anyone looking to stay active when pregnant & with their babies!  If anyone else knows of any other great activewear for use before or after baby I’d love to hear!

Here are some other reviews to check out:

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