Each and every year we get a bunch of reader questions that center around maternity winter coats. Are they worth the money? Are there any non-maternity options that work? Anything affordable? It's a toughie. So I went right to the experts: our readers.
Here's what our very experienced readers recommended over & over & over again (and in some cases, with pics to prove it!).
1. Try A Cape, Poncho or a Swingy Coat
This was, hands-down, our reader's most-recommended option (and also what I did with both pregnancies). At first blush, it doesn't sound all that great - how much swing is needed? And a cape? Really? Is it warm enough?
But here's the thing: Pregnant Mamas get hot. As reader Erin pointed out: I just wore a poncho, I was too hot to wear a real coat - the best part of being preggers!
I agree. Typically, I'll need a sweater in anything less than 82 degrees. Yet while pregnant? This is what I wore - even in WINTER:
I also had a 3/4 sleeve wool swing coat (that you can see here) for colder days, and I'd layer with a sweater underneath. Long gloves were paired with the 3/4 sleeve coat.
But really, any coat with a bit of swing might get you through. Go ahead and let your belly peek out! For example, reader Paula was still using her pre-pregnancy coat in her last trimester: My nonmaternity coat still buttons right above my baby belly - and I'm due in 3 weeks. With pregnancy I'm naturally so warm... and I always cover my neck to keep from getting cold.
Even a pea coat might be swingy enough. Reader Sheena "just buttoned as many buttons as I could on my wool peacoat. Eventually I was down to just the top button, but so goes it!"
This option makes sense for Mamas who hate to burn their hard-earned dollars on something that won't go the distance. Reader Samantha "refused to buy a maternity coat (seemed like a waste as this is our last baby), so I found a swing coat at Macy's. It's a perfect cut, and plenty of room around my growing belly. Plus, it will work for me even after the baby arrives (due in April)."
So. If you happen to be in the market for a winter coat, it might make sense to buy one that will work for pregnancy, post-partum, baby-wearing, and beyond! Try a non-maternity swing coat like Samantha...or find a cape. Nicole chose "a cape from Isabella Oliver with gloves, scarf and hat or a larger peacoat. I was always so hot- this worked!" Good choice, Nicole. Even maternity capes can have a life post-pregnancy. (Isabella Oliver no longer makes a cape, but I'm loving Hatch's.)
As examples, I've found three capes/ponchos that would look gorgeous whether you are pregnant, baby-wearing, or headed to the office post-partum:
Victoria's Secret Belted Cape Coat, on sale for $70 | Jones NY Faux-Fur Trim Cape, on sale for $99 |SpiritHoods Phoenix Hooded Reversable Cape in Peruvian, on sale for $195
2. Try A Wool Wrap Coat (or Belted Trench)
While you can find maternity wrap coats (Isabella Oliver's comes to mind)....many of our readers simply bought regular wool wrap coats, and wrapped them around their belly, belting them shut.
Reader Amanda said: I had a heavy wool trench coat style coat. I would leave the coat unbuttoned but then tie the belt. On top I wore a scarf to cover the gap.
Nice! Reader Kristin (pictured below) did the same.
This technique works really well with actual wrap coats, belted trenches, or even a slightly swingy-er/larger sized coat - just add a belt. And, as reader Barbara pointed out, this method is "also handy for babywearing".
Here are a few wrap coats that would be worth the splurge for a pregnant mama (just take the belt out of the included loops, and tie it above the bump, like Kristin above). Wrap coats also work great post-pregnancy.
3. Need Serious Warmth? Try A Plus-Size Puffer (or a slightly larger size)
Aaaand then we have Mamas that are in need of serious warmth. Mamas who live in such cold climates that they can't just pull the "I'm hot and preggers" card.
My friend Jess (pictured below) lives in one of those climates. Jess "shopped in the 'plus' section. That way the sleeves fit me, but it was bigger in the mid section. I went with a warm puffy all the way!"
Or just try sizing up. Reader Vicki had her son in January a few years ago: "Leading up to his birth, I layered on shirts and sweaters and then wore a long puffy coat a size too big. The arms still fit, but it also would snap around the belly (not zip, but yes snap). I bought it second hand and passed it along after his birth." Vicki, zippers are overrated. Snaps totally count.
But for the HUGE bellied among us (Yup. That was me.), when faced with serious cold, a simple size-up may not cut it. In this situation, you gotta do whatcha gotta do. And in that vein, reader Amanda rocked her "husband's XL down filled parka when it was -30 to -50!" Yikes. That is serious cold.
But I do love Jess' plus-size idea (rather than the men's department). Why? Girl coats are cuter than boy coats, duh! Like these:
Macy's has, by far, the best selection right now.
4. Go For The M-Coat
Our Canadian readers all raved about The M Coat. It has a middle zipper panel for pregnancy, it folds down for babywearing, and then zips right out after. Pretty ingenious, actually.
And it's hard to deny the cuteness here. OMG.
5. Buttoning is Over-Rated (Aka Wear Whatever You Already Have)
I mean really. Considering the vast amount of hot pregnancy hormones running through your body...do you really need to button anything? And Hedvig from London makes a pretty convincing argument for the stylishness of this option:
Dang, girl. Gorgeous. Of course, we can't all look this put together while pregnant...so here was my stay-at-home-mom version (complete with a dirty-faced toddler):
BWA HA HA! Yeah, baby. Not *quite* the same, I know.
But sometimes...I think we're over-thinking the whole maternity wear thing. Unless you live in a frigid tundra...you can probably can get by without buying something new. (Of course, this depends on your outdoor activity level. Jess was snowshoeing. I? I'm so uncomfortable while pregnant that I, uh...mosey from my door to my car.)
Reader Shannon said it best: "I had 3 late winter/early spring babies, and never bought a maternity coat. I just buttoned my non-maternity coat as much as I could, and always wore a scarf. I wasn't really out in the cold that much, just walking from car to shops, restaurants, the house, etc, so it worked."
Even reader Jenny from freezing Minnesota(!!) just "wore my warmest regular coat without zipping it on top of layers." But then she admits, "I was sick the whole time though so I didn't get out much."
That's kinda the deal, though. The thing with pregnancy is that, like childbirth, you just don't know how it's going to go. You don't know if you are going to be sick, or feel amazing, or be put on bedrest or be snowshoeing. You also don't know if you are going to have amazing hair, huge zits, or if your pregnancy hormones can be relied on to keep you warm. So I guess what I'm saying is this: When it comes to winter coats, proceed with caution. Make due with what you have, if you can. Or buy something that can go the distance - beyond pregnancy. But if you decide to invest in a wear-only-when-pregnant winter coat, find something on crazy sale. You're much better off spending money on things like cute hats, cozy scarves, and awesome winter boots.
Readers - Did I miss anything? Let me know!