I apologize that I missed April's Round-Up. The month kind of ended on me before I knew it!
May's Round-Up is brought to you by Baby Number 4 and focuses on pregnancy & nursing garb, as well as a few related topics. There are not too many links here, basically because there aren't that many good links out there.
One thing that has always bothered me about trying to find information about garbing a pregnant body is that there seems to be a void of truly inspiring information. Many photos or pages online display garb that is not necessarily well researched or well crafted. The misconception that to be pregnant and comfortable in the SCA, you must wear what equates to a mou-mou, AND give up your chosen persona, abounds. This is completely false. EVERY period had pregnant women. Otherwise civilization would have ceased to exist and we wouldn't be around today to recreate it.
If you're in the early stages of pregnancy (in the first trimester), take heart- unless you've been over indulging with the excuse that you're eating for two, you won't need to worry about accommodating garb just yet. In fact, if you've been wearing kirtles or cotehardies, your current garb may be suitable well into your second trimester. Just expect the skirt hem to sit a little higher in the front as it raises to go around your baby bump.
Once you're in modern maternity clothes, however, new garb may be in order depending on how big you get. Don't over anticipate growing out of all your garb. If you're pushing the limits of your modern maternity clothes, pregnancy garb me be a given, but until you reach that point, don't waste the fabric and effort on large garb you may not ultimately really need.
As the copious images Karen at Larsdatter.com has collected indicate, pregnant women didn't just toss out their fashionable tendencies the moment they grew out of their dresses. Expectant mothers wore the fashions of their time, sized appropriately to their frame. What this means in a general sense is that most of your garb efforts may just mean subtle alterations on the garb you're already used to wearing. For example:
- Garb for late 14th century into the 16th century can utilize a loose front lacing over the belly.
- Gores can be inserted in gowns (particularly useful for earlier styles) and later removed to fit your non-pregnant frame.
- Viking apron dresses can be opened in the front and secured at the top with a brooch.
This isn't to say that trying to nurse at an event is an exercise in futility, but instead my message is this: be prepared for the emotional toll it will take to find a system that works for you and your baby. One thing I did not do, that I will be sure to remedy with this baby? Practice at home first.
One of the important things to remember about nursing in period is that it was rarely ever done by women of high class. If your persona is wealthy or of high rank, you may consider adopting the persona of a wet nurse during your breastfeeding time. This essentially allows you to use lower class garb with nursing access instead of trying to make higher class gowns work.
What Nursing Mothers Wore is a great little page with many period images. The images are grouped by nursing accesses method.
Let's not forget that after your trial of pregnancy in the SCA, you'll have a new bundle of joy to take to events as well. There are many points of view out there on clothing infants in garb, but I personally subscribe to the thinking that my children should be just as well dressed as I am. I have used Mathilde's Infant Gown paper as inspiration for all three of my babies. For the twins, we used a vintage christening gown pattern and it has been extremely successful thus far.
Finally, The Lady in Waiting is an email group for expectant mothers in the SCA. They don't post often, but if you've got specific concerns, other pregnant mothers can give you their advice.
Like I said, not too many links here, but I hope you find this information at least a little helpful!