When I was a fetus, I had my first and only opportunity to contribute to the design of the Mormon undergarment. My parents’ neighbor had been commissioned to design maternity garments for the Church. Her goal was to make a garment that would accommodate a pregnant woman’s expanding belly without discomfort. She sought out my mother’s help because she needed a model who was both temple-endowed and enormously pregnant. As she observed to my mom, “Not many women get as big as you.”
My mother tried on the prototype and the designer asked her, “Are you comfortable?” My mother assured her that she was. Swimming around inside my mother’s womb underneath that garment, I honestly can’t remember now whether or not I was comfortable as well.
However, today I am wearing maternity garments again and I can emphatically reply, “No, I am not comfortable.”
My mom was only six months pregnant at the time the garment designer observed that she was so big. She was destined to become much bigger still before I was born. I am my mother’s daughter. I am as short as my mother before me. Since I have hardly any torso to speak of, my baby floats around in an enormous, circular swimming pool in front of me. I am so front-heavy that I have trouble maintaining my balance and I can’t fit my baby-filled belly under a desk.
Nor can I properly fit my belly into the Mormon maternity garment.
The maternity garment has a stretchy, poly/cotton blend panel that is supposed to expand around a pregnant woman’s belly, much like the panel on this pair of maternity jeans:
The panel works reasonably well. It stretches enough to get around even my belly. Unfortunately, church undergarment designers, who apparently haven’t heard of stretch lace, have topped the panel with a thick waistband that painfully squeezes and pinches my already tender, stretched out belly muscles and skin. My baby resents the intrusion of this awful waistband into his space and kicks at it relentlessly, adding to the pain.
What if a genie granted me some wishes to make Mormon maternity underwear slightly less horrible? I can always dream.
Well, actually, I can’t dream. I am much too big and uncomfortable now to get any sleep at night, even when I am not running to the potty for the fifth or sixth time. But if I could dream, this is what I would tell that underwear genie:
No more waistband torture devices! (That goes for the non-maternity garment as well, Genie.) Stretch lace is a beautiful (and practical) thing. Or better yet, you could eliminate the waistband altogether and make the whole panel out of spandex. This solution would support the belly and help me carry this enormous burden around, like this maternity undergarment sold in stores:
Well Genie, if you really are so very attached to that waistband and simply can’t see fit to remove it, couldn’t you make it expandable by adding button holes and a button, like they do with many commercial maternity clothes?
What if we just got rid of the panel altogether and kept our panties away from the baby’s territory? Modern maternity underwear usually sits under the belly, instead of on top of it, like this:
Don’t worry, Genie, we would still be plenty modest because our undershirts are perfectly capable of covering our bellies all by themselves. We don’t need an extra layer.
Of course, without a genie to help me out with the garment design, I guess I could always call on the “reasons of health and cleanliness” exemption to the garment-wearing requirement. Pregnancy is a health reason, and personally, I feel like pregnant women should be allowed to run around naked (or waddle around naked) if that’s what it takes to get comfortable.
But should it take that? Couldn’t the powers that be try a little harder to design garments that make garment-wearing less difficult? If any church garment designers are reading this, I would be happy to volunteer to help out as a model. I am temple-endowed and enormously pregnant and I even have prenatal maternity garment modeling experience.