This post is sponsored by The Breastfeeding Shop.
I get one night every year when I get to play Cinderella. I slip into something gorgeous, sweep my hair into a glamorous up-do, and put on enough makeup for a few Disney Princesses.
Except last year, when I was seven months pregnant and large as a house. Then it was a struggle to make the night feel special. Somehow, I still pulled it off!
And this wasn’t even the first time I’ve pulled off a mostly flawless ball with a baby on board.
Dress for Success
Whether you are in the first trimester or minutes away from giving birth, comfort is your main goal for the ball. May I suggest a flowy or stretchy gown?
A few years ago, I used Mine for Nine to find a perfect rental gown. It was glamorous, stretchy, and flattering. At the more recent ball, I purchased a formal gown from Pink Blush Maternity. It has an empire waist and a flowy bottom.
Mamas-to-be have tons of options online. A simple search for “maternity formal gowns” brings up dozens of results. Often social retailers, like Zulily, feature maternity lines frequently.
As you are selecting your outfit, consider your shoes. While heels might have been your go-to in years past, I can tell you from experience that your feet will swell. Those cute shoes will become spike-heeled torture chambers, doling out blisters and squished toes. My choice both times? Flat fancy sandals in metallic hues. My toes had wiggle room and I could still dance the night away comfortably.
Finally, think about your undergarments. In the early stages, you might still be able to handle smoothing shapewear. Later on, it gets a little harder to handle anything super tight. Pick your comfiest underwear. Trust me on this one.
Food for Thought
If you’re like me, during pregnancy you are hungry as a horse and everything looks delicious. Especially yummy cake at the ball.
Or maybe you’re fighting back nausea for nine months like Princess Kate.
Either way, you need a plan.
First, bring snacks that you enjoy. I brought peanut butter crackers, a granola bar, and roasted cashews. When I got super hungry during the never-ending sit/stand and speakers portion, I was able to stop my hangriness in its tracks. For someone with all-day sickness, having small snacks frequently is one of the most recommended methods to keep your tummy troubles in check. And if the mass-produced rubbery chicken on your plate is unappetizing or smells off, you still have something to hold you over until cake time.
I also brought a water bottle with me to the ball. Yes, I was the only person there toting a large hot pink half gallon water bottle. But you know what? I was hydrated and felt pretty okay about life. Bonus: No one will give a pregnant lady a side-eye when you need to leave during the speech to use the restroom. Use this to your advantage.
Recon the Location
When you arrive, do a quick perimeter sweep.
You will want to locate the closest bar that will serve you mocktails all night long. This is vital to keeping your blood sugar in balance and staying hydrated. If you are still in the super secret no-one-knows phase of pregnancy, making the bartender your friend and accomplice is key to maintaining the facade. Tip generously for someone willing to make you nonalcoholic look-alike drinks all night long.
Next, scout the bathrooms. Find the one closest to your actual table, the coat check, and the parking lot. After hydrating all night, you will need to use all of these locations at least once. (Unless you have a bladder of steel or your mini isn’t in the heavy kicking stage yet. If this is you, be very thankful.)
Finally, connect with the servers for your table. If you have food sensitivities or would prefer to just have a big plate of mashed potatoes, let them know ASAP. I was able to grab completely dairy-free dinners at both balls, plus bonus rolls for the table. If you are a coffee drinker, alert them in advance to your preference for decaf or regular. Having decaf coffee available to me mid-ball was key to maintaining my energy all night long.
Prep for a Late Night
Military balls seem to be designed for everyone but Cinderella. When we went to the fancy ball in D.C., we were up into the wee hours of the morning. This didn’t jive with my very pregnant self.
About halfway through the ball, have a cup of coffee. I opted for decaf so that could still fall asleep later on.
Continue to hydrate generously throughout the evening. I found that alternating a juice- or soda-based “drink” with lots of water kept me very hydrated and boosted my energy levels with sugary goodness.
If you have eaten all your purse snacks, go for your back-ups. I suggest hiding them in your coat. Dried fruits, nuts, granola bars, and crackers are all great choices that will fuel you and keep you going.
If you are out super late, totally request a second dinner or round of heavy appetizers. At one ball, we swung through a drive through for burgers and fries. For the other ball, I packed a PB & J for the ride home.
Did you wear fancy shoes that are now uncomfortable? Good thing you stashed a pair of flip flops in your coat or car! If you think there will be an after party or the night is really going long, swap your shoes out or, worst case, go barefoot. Chances are good that you are the designated driver. In that case, a comfy pair of shoes for driving will be a lifesaver after a night of dancing.
Own the Belly
Everyone loves a pregnant gal having a great time, so totally rock it! Embrace being glamorous and fancy for the ball. In a few short months, it will be spit up city, sister. You will want these memories from your pre-baby life.
Do what makes you happy. Go crazy on the dance floor with your best friends or take it slow with just your spouse. Head home early if you want to. I mean, you’re balling it up for two!
And absolutely try to snag a second (or third, or fourth. . . maybe even fifth) piece of cake.
The Breastfeeding Shop provides name-brand, high-quality breast pumps and breastfeeding supplies. Catering to the military community, the Breastfeeding Shop’s quick and easy service ensures that TRICARE beneficiaries can receive breast pumps and supplies at no-cost to them.
By Meg Flanagan