Q&A: postpartum bridesmaiding

Ria writes:

"I am expecting my first baby in late June or early July, and my brother is getting married in mid-August. It's all very wonderful and exciting, especially as I am to be a bridesmaid (bridesmatron?) at the wedding.  My question is not related to parenting as such, but I'm hoping you and/or your readers can give me some advice on a few specific things.

First, I have to get measured for and order this dress now, almost into my third trimester.  Luckily, I have a set of measurements taken last August before I got pregnant. My instinct is to order a dress one or two sizes above what those measurements would indicate and have it altered at the last minute. I also thought about getting some measurements taken now and shooting for a size halfway in between those sets of measurements.  Does either of those sound reasonable, or one better than the other?

Second, the chosen dress is strapless. Even if they sold strapless nursing bras, I'm not sure I would want to invest in one just for one use.  Any wisdom or thoughts on the best way to be a newly-nursing mother *and* wear a strapless dress? Perhaps some kind of underwire or support sewn into the dress? A normal strapless bra with breast pads inside? (I know you're going to suggest Lilypadz, but they alone don't solve the support garment issue; I was a D cup before I got pregnant, and who knows where I'll end up by next August.)

Third and lastly, dress alterations take time, and time is one thing we're not going to have a lot of.  My chest and belly will probably still be actively changing size six weeks postpartum. Having never gone through this process, I have no idea whether to go see a seamstress two weeks after the birth, or four, or when at all. If I wait long enough to get the best fit, there'll be very little time to get the alterations done. On the other hand, at a fancy wedding with eight bridesmaids and a dress that costs more than the baby's crib, I don't want to look like my dress doesn't fit me. Any insight into this? And while we're at it, any recommendations of places in the Boston metro area that specialize in working with pregnant/barely unpregnant bridal parties?

Someone out there has to have gone through a similar experience. All thoughts and advice will be gratefully accepted!"

I think that with dresses, as with the rest of life, it's all about the boobs. If the dress fits the ladies correctly, the tailors can always alter the waist and hips etc. to fit you a week or two before the wedding. Since you'll be fewer than 8 weeks postpartum for the wedding, it's highly likely that your breasts will be the same size they are in the third trimester. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that you'll be two cup sizes and one band size up from your prepregnancy size. You probably will have lost a lot of the swelling and water weight around your midsection, but it's likely that you'll still be at the same band size you were at the end of pregnancy at that point. Most women go up a cup size when they become engorged in the first week postpartum, but the engorgement will have gone down by the time of the wedding and you'll be back down to the cup size you were in the third trimester. (For more data points on sizes postpartum, read the comments to my nursing bra post.)

So I'd go get measured right now and figure your breasts will be the same size then, and they can just alter down the rest of the dress for you.

A strapless bra is, by nature, a nursing bra, no?, because you can just pull it down when you need to nurse. I'm assuming that since your baby will still be so small you won't be ready to nurse in front of a reception hall full of people anyway, so if you're sitting in some ladies' lounge on another floor somewhere you might as well just pull down the dress and strapless bra and nurse. So I'd go for a good, supportive strapless bra (maybe a long-line to give you a little extra support and slimming effect) in the size you are in your third trimester. But if you do your reconnaissance work now and find out the styles available to you, you can get sized closer to the actual wedding. OTOH, if you do want to find out if strapless nursing bras exist, I'd give the women at your local nursing supply store or Upper Breast Side in New York City a call at 212-873-2653 to see what they have to say.

(And I am going to suggest Lilypadz, but just so you don't soak through the beautiful teal or burgundy taffeta of your dress, not for support, which they don't provide.)

As for the timing of all of this, I'm going to hope that someone can suggest an awesome seamstress in the Boston metro area. When you get this info, you're going to call and tell her your dilemma and ask how much time she needs to do alterations. She'll tell you exactly when to come in for alterations, and you'll feel better and it'll all work out.

Congratulations to your brother, and good luck to you. If you find a good seamstress, it'll all be fine and you'll be able to enjoy the wedding with your little baby.