Whether you’re ten weeks along or 34 weeks along, shopping while pregnant can be an absolute chore. It’s one thing when you’re shopping for yourself, footloose and fancy-free, and you’re not carrying a beach ball tucked in your pants. It’s another thing when you have… well, a beach ball tucked in your pants.
It’s harder to move, your back always hurts, your feet swell - drinking more water will usually help with that, as counter intuitive as it seems, and shopping while pregnant is really not that fun to do. There are some times where shopping is the very last thing you want to do, but you’re out of ice cream, or well, anything substantial to eat, or you have ripped your last pair of work maternity pants, and need to buy more because your trusty yoga pants are not considered work attire appropriate.
Maybe you could invest that effort into writing a letter to HR asking them to modify the dress code. Or maybe not. Shopping while pregnant is an unfortunate but necessary event that occurs continuously throughout your pregnancy. It never gets better, and each trip seems to last longer and longer, mostly because you move slower and slower as you get further along. Shopping, in a word, can be torturous while you’re pregnant. Here is how shopping while pregnant is like the seven circles of hell.
7 First Circle of Hell: Leaving the House
Just mustering up the energy to go anywhere while you’re pregnant is a massive endeavor. You’re in your comfy sweatpants, sleeping shirt, and enjoying doing nothing. Shopping means getting presentable, standing on your feet, walking around… just moving around really. This is not an enjoyable time, when you’re having to get ready to go to the store.
Trying to find an outfit that helps you achieve that “cute pregnant lady” look takes much longer to do. Hell, getting dressed takes longer to do. You can’t see the zipper on your pants, so you’re having to do that part by feel. Putting on socks is a disaster and you’re having to do moves that makes you wonder if being a contortionist is really your true calling. After a while, you’ll say forget it, and go with flip flops.
Everything's become a big chore now that you're Pregzilla!
Even if it’s -30 outside. By the time you’ve finished getting dressed, you’re sweating buckets, so you go to change again, because you’re way too goddamned hot to go outside, and you’ll likely embarrass yourself with the pronounced sweat stains on your shirt, and we’re not talking about the armpits.
During pregnancy, specifically the first, third and even the fourth trimester, the hypothalamus part of the brain (where it helps regulate your body temperature) undergoes massive hormonal shifts and doesn’t work as efficiently as you’d like, hence the excessive sweating in additional areas, such as your chest, back, genital area, and face.
While the good news is that you aren’t getting extra stinky, since the increased sweating is occurring without the odor, it does mean that you will find yourself changing your clothes multiple times a day.
That's especially fun.
6 Second Circle of Hell: Getting Into the Car
These are the moments where your dignity can completely leave you in the dust. There is no such thing as the perfect vehicle to drive while pregnant. They’re either too tall, too low, not enough space for the baby bump, no back support, or the seat belt adds to the frequent need to pee.
Sometimes the idea of getting into the driver’s seat is downright terrifying, especially if you’re driving a taller vehicle that does not come equipped with the running boards to step up on. You either gotta hike up your knees and “oomph” your way onto the seat, or ever so delicately (haha!!) lower yourself into the seat and hope that your butt lands on the driver’s seat, instead of the pavement.
One thing you could consider is putting a step stool by the driver’s door, so that you have something to step onto to make entering the vehicle easier on you, if you’re driving a vehicle that sits higher off the ground. Also make sure that you are not carrying anything into the vehicle as you are climbing in.
Sometimes you wonder if you should even be driving
Put your purse and other items, such as your water bottle or phone, into the vehicle first, so you have both hands free to help yourself as you enter the vehicle, however undignified it may look. Once you get into the driver’s seat, there is that small, pesky matter of getting that seat belt around you.
Your range of motion when pregnant becomes more limited as your body compensates to carrying the extra weight, making simple, mundane tasks seem like acrobatic acts. Once you’ve achieved victory by buckling that seatbelt, you mentally high five yourself, and glance at the clock. Cripes. It’s been 45 minutes since you’ve gotten yourself off the couch to go shopping, and you’ve just now gotten into the car. This is not going as well as you’d hoped.
5 Third Circle of Hell: The Parking Lot
It always happens that you are regulated to the second to last spot in the gargantuan parking lot of the store, and you have to waddle your preggo self to the store. In 90 degree weather. On the boiling pavement. With your suitcase of a purse. There are a handful of stores that offer parking spaces for expectant mothers, that are conveniently marked near the front of the entrance.
However, this is not a very common thing yet. While everyone says that staying active while pregnant is a good thing and keeps mama and the baby healthy and happy, this hellish trek across the parking lot is not what you had in mind. It also really doesn’t help that you have to pee.
There should be more pregnancy parking at the mall!
Again. It’s even better that your bundle of joy is gleefully bouncing on your bladder with every step you take, making it harder for you to not be one of those who has an accident in the middle of the parking lot. It’s a really good thing you’ve been doing your Kegels exercises. If you haven’t been, you should really consider doing so. It can help with labor and delivery, as some women report.
Doing Kegels during your pregnancy can also help with bladder control and reduce the occurrence of hemorrhoids during the course of pregnancy and during labor and delivery. In case you don’t make it, make sure that you have an extra pair of underwear with you in your purse… you’ll thank yourself for having such foresight to prepare for such emergencies.
4 Fourth Circle of Hell: Finding the Bathroom
You must always know where the nearest bathroom is. Always. You have heard of situational awareness. Being aware of your surroundings, not being distracted by your phone or music player. Making sure that you cannot be caught off guard or be placed into uncomfortable situations. This changes when you become pregnant. At this point, you always keep track of where the nearest bathroom is.
You immediately calculate the amount of time it’ll take you to reach the bathroom, since you won’t be able to move as quickly, and whether or not you should take a quick pee before venturing towards the back of the store.
Your old nemesis...the bathroom
It's perfectly acceptable to add a bathroom break before you begin venturing down the next aisle, as it’s amazing that your body can squeeze out as much pee as it does during each trip, as if you weren’t just gracing the porcelain throne with your presence a mere ten minutes ago.
Carrying the little peanut, especially if it’s riding low, can make your body feel as if it needs to pee more frequently, so you might as well begin accommodating the peanut, since living for you and your own needs is practically already over. Don’t forget to do your Kegels, that’ll help too.
3 Fifth Circle of Hell: Clothes Shopping
Pregnancy wreaks havoc on your body, emotions, and hormones. In the past, when you felt crummy about life, a great pick-me-up was going to the store and picking up a cute outfit that made you feel better about yourself. This gets really hard to do when you’re pregnant. It can be really hard to find stores that has a selection of maternity clothes, and there are plenty of stores that have a maternity section, but good grief, the clothes can be fugly.
You might as well tape together 8 paper bags (because that’s how many you’ll need to go around you) and call it done for all the clothes do to flatter you and your baby bump. It also doesn’t help that good quality maternity clothes can be really expensive, making it hard to justify ponying up the cash since you’ll only be wearing the clothes for a few months anyway.
Additionally, when looking at some of those different outfits that were put together for a pregnant shopper, you’d have to wonder what the hell the designer was thinking when they designed it. Garish color combinations, and obnoxious prints seem to the norm when it comes to maternity wear.
Is it really that hard to make good looking maternity wear?
Either the designers have no idea how to design for pregnant bellies, or they’re hoping to hack at the already suffering sense of confidence and self-esteem of pregnant women who already are at war with how their body is changing on them. The most important thing to keep in mind when trying on maternity clothes is that your body is a freaking rock star, even if you don’t feel like it. It’s growing a life and it’s sustaining you.
Every baby bump, whether it’s high, low, big, or small, deserves to get showcased in something that looks and feels good to you. Get yourself a belly band to give yourself and the belly some support. If you find a pair of yoga pants that makes you feel good, is comfortable around the belly, then stock up on six pairs of them.
If those lovely maxi dresses makes you feel like a queen, then maxi dress the heck out of your pregnancy. Wear what makes you feel good, and make no apologies for it.
2 Sixth Circle of Hell: Remembering What You Were Shopping For in the First Place
When you’re pregnant, it often feels like if your head wasn’t attached to your neck, it’d be floating away somewhere. The forgetfulness and feelings of confusion is real. Throughout your pregnancy, the constant changes in hormones can lead to changes in your mental capacity. You can experience changes in your short term memory, especially if you’re in your third trimester.
While this change is temporary, as it usually goes away after delivery, though some women continue to experience this into postpartum, it makes it no less annoying and aggravating, especially when you’re trying to remember what the hell you went through all this trouble for to get to the store in the first place.
Your mind has deserted you
One way to combat this is to write an actual list, and put it in your purse as soon as you are done writing it up, or type it into your phone on a memo, so it’s with you wherever you go. Unless you forget your phone too. Then you’re just screwed.
Or, you can happily stock up to satisfy whatever cravings you’ve been having and hope that your spouse is understanding enough to enjoy that ice cream pickle sundae for dinner… if you’ll share with it them anyway.
1 Seventh Circle of Hell: Getting Your Bags Back to the Car
Sure, at some grocery stores, they offer the services of taking your bags back to the car for you. If you are one of the lucky ones, take them up on the offer. Don’t be a hero. Milk those offerings for all it’s worth, because once you’ve got that baby in your arms, those offers to help go away, because you are clearly self sufficient enough to brave the stores alone with the babe, and you’ll be left with juggling the baby and the cart all by your big girl self.
If you are shopping where there are no such services or offers of help, then you are left with pushing that cart with the stuck wheel that makes maneuvering that wheeled cretin so. Much. Fun. When you get to your car in that second to last parking space, make sure to be careful when loading the bags in the car.
Pregnancy is already hard on your body, and moving extra weight and bending in different directions can add to the stress that your body is feeling. Load one bag at a time, and do it slowly so that you’re not contorting yourself too much with the extra weight from the bags. Once you’ve accomplished that, it’s time to be that responsible shopper and put away your cart in the cart corral.
The one time you actually need valet parking
This would be a good time to squeeze a quick trip to the bathroom too. Once you’ve gotten back to your car, you may briefly consider abandoning your Kegel exercises this evening, since you’ve been doing nothing but keeping that sphincter shut tight while you were shopping, but don’t do that, due to the close call you had when you got the store in the first place. Your muscles could use more exercise.
Similar to when you were leaving the house, take your time getting into the vehicle, but perhaps take a look around to make sure no one is watching you, in case you have an undignified moment. Once you’ve gotten into your vehicle, you can give yourself a high five. You totally rocked out that shopping trip! It may have taken you over two hours to accomplish this endeavor, but by golly Miss Molly, you did it while rocking that baby bump.
Come on, shopping near the end of your pregnancy is the WORST!
On the drive home, you can congratulate yourself that you’ve beaten the seven circles of hell that is known as shopping while pregnant. At least you did so this time. Next time, you may not be as fortunate to escape without any major mishaps, or maybe you’ll just throw in the towel and sign up for the delivery service from the grocery store and enjoy the comforts of your couch at home.
Or you could send your spouse to do it and demand that you Facetime the whole time, so they don’t pick up the wrong brand of ice cream to go with your pickles and hot sauce for your midnight craving. It’s all about working smarter, not harder, and avoiding the seven circles of hell while shopping.