The Case for the Pregnancy Muumuu

By Estelle Sobel Erasmus

Five months pregnant
Me, five months or so pregnant.

I was about five months pregnant with my daughter and in between my regular bouts of vomiting, when my mom came over for a visit with a small package in her hand.

“Estelle,  I got you something to wear,” my mom said handing me the package. “Maybe not for now, but later when you’re bigger.”

“What is this,” I asked as I opened up the package and pulled out  a ginormous navy blue garment, that Mama Cass would have been proud to own.

“It’s a caftan,-or what used to be called a house dress,” my mom said with delight. I thought you might like it.”

Type of Mumus
This is what a house dress looks like. Who knew?

“That’s not a caftan, mom,  it’s a muumuu–a huge one,” I said, full of righteous indignation.

“Mom, that’s so rude,” I continued. “Look at how small I am; I’m barely showing. I’ll NEVER get that big. Please take it back, I don’t ever want to see that again and for the record, I’m extremely insulted.”

“Ok. Ok. Calm down. I thought it might have been helpful, but I’ll take it back,” my mom said.

Nonplussed my mom put away the muumuu, and I didn’t think too much about it. I was busy becoming a microexpert on all things pregnancy, childbirth and early motherhood.

Flash forward,  a few months later from the “muumuu incident” and I was so big that going from the bed to the bathroom to vomit each night (yes, I enjoyed that particular side effect of pregnancy up till my 32nd week) was such an ordeal, that I pulled the “royalty” card of yore, and told friends and family alike that I was going into “seclusion” until after the birth.

I’m surprised I didn’t send out an engraved announcement about my “seclusion”  although I hardly felt like a Queen, but  more like a vomiting, flatulent, Prairie woman. Still, one day, I called my mom up. I had come to an desperate important decision.

“Hi mom. Listen, I can’t fit into any of my maternity clothes anymore, and besides the heartburn makes anything that is constricting in any way too uncomfortable. You don’t by any chance still have that muumuu?

Her answer brought tears to my eyes.

“Estelle, I saved the muumuu for you. I had a feeling you’d want it one day.”

Type of Mumu I wore while pregnant
My muumuu  sort of looked like this, but it was navy blue with buttons down the front.


Do you know, I wore that muumuu every day until the day I left to give birth in the hospital, seventy pounds heavier than my original weight. By that time the muumuu was a pale replica of its former self, what with the missing buttons down the front and faint vomit stains by the hem that washing couldn’t eradicate .

Somehow, none of that mattered. My mom had been there for me when I needed her, and now I had someone who might need me to give her a muumuu one day.

You bet I will.

Me and my newborn daughter

What’s a story from your pregnancy?

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63 thoughts on “The Case for the Pregnancy Muumuu”

  1. What would we do without our mothers, Estelle? They are so wise. My son was born on my mother’s birthday. It was always fun celebrating with them together.

  2. I LOVE that you embraced the Mumu! I can not believe the young women at work who barely change a size when pregnant. It is nice to hear from a ‘real woman’!! (This from someone who gained 10 pounds every month for the first 5 months of a pregnancy!!!!)

  3. What a sweet story. Even as a midlifer, I think we have those mumu days when nothing would feel nicer than to curl up in a non confining, free flowing housedress.

  4. I love mumus! My mom called them “shifts” and loved to say “It hides a multitude of sins.”

  5. We were stationed in Hawaii when I was pregnant with baby #2. Between the weight gain and the heat, I loved my MuuMuu! It was a souvenir that was used!!!

  6. such a sweet story! it took me so long to embrace bigger clothes during my pregnancy. After I did, I wish I would have sooner!

    1. Caitlin,
      It makes such a difference doesn’t it. I think it took me to pop at around 6 1/2 months for me to start looking at larger sizes.

  7. When you’re busy growing a human, you have full permission to wear whatever you want. So glad your mom knew you needed a Mumu and held on to it for you. =)

  8. My grandmother always called it a house dress, too! Well, you look adorable at any weight and in any kind of clothes. You rock the mumu!

  9. Oh my gosh, you are hilarious! I love that she bought you this and you wore it like a champ! My MIL bought me a nightgown for after my third baby was born. My hubby thought it was hideous and I was non-plussed. But I wore that thing until it fell apart. It was perfect for nursing in the middle of the night and was so comfy. I just got rid of it (months after I finished nursing).

    1. Hi Carrie,
      That’s funny. Too bad, those end-of-pregnancy garments are so hideous–and definitely need to be thrown out afterwards. I think there might be a great business there for someone.

  10. I snorted coffee at your mention of Mama Cass.

    I remember when muumuus were all the rage (caftan sounds nicer, though) and was sad when they began to get such a bad rap.

    1. Lori,
      I’m so glad I was responsible for you snorting coffee. What a nice start to the morning:) I agree that caftan sounds nicer than Mumu or Muumuu.

  11. What a great mother! I think I would have reacted the same as you if my mom had graciously given me a MuMu 😉
    My third pregnancy was the hardest, though none of them were incredibly difficult. It was hard because the other two were so young (2 and 3) and needed me so much – I *almost* wish I had thought of a mumu – instead I just wore my husband’s extra large shirts and bought myself some giant sweat pants! I was so stylin’! ha

  12. I think every pregnant woman needs a Mumu! I never had one, but definitely could have used one! I was always pregnant in the winter, but always thought it would be nice to be preg in the summer so I could wear a big loose dress… a mumu! Loved your story.. thanks for sharing!

  13. My mother also gave me a Mumu from the Chadwicks of Boston catalog.

    I loved it and wore it in secret shame, never admitting to her it was perfect! (And saved it for my girls. )

    It is now the family mumu, I mean the “heirloom caftan”

  14. As a plus sized gal I’m totally pro mumu! Obviously the pattern needs to be awesome, but at the end of the day it’s all about attitude. 😉

    1. Absolutely. It is definitely all about the attitude. Wish that they did come in better patterns. Mine was solid color so it was a bit more subtle.

  15. It’s funny how moms always come to the rescue! I had to idea that there was a post-baby tummy as well, so that part was a bit of a shock. I wore more maternity jeans for a long time!

  16. What a great story and lovely tribute to your mother. Isn’t it wonderful to think you can do the same? I had a gear aunt who wore those. She called them her “tents.”

  17. Estelle, Loved your post. Having met your mom on a couple of occasions, it doesn’t surprise me that she offered you the mumu and she quietly kept it knowing that you would need it some day..So sweet….

    1. Hi Josephine,
      Thanks. Yes, it was really thoughtful of her, despite my initial rejection of the “offensive” garment.

  18. Had my first baby at 40, spent several months in the hospital with warnings that either the baby or I might not make it — but my daughter was born 6 weeks premature, 6 pounds, 6 ounces and a 10 on the Apgar score. I gained 80 pounds but most of it was ……ready for this…..tumors — and yes, gave birth to all of those at the same time 🙂 LOL

  19. Mothers know best, I suppose. Cute mumu! Like youl, I was pretty sick with my first pregnancy and gained a whopping 40 pounds. I could have used a mumu for the six months it took for the weight to budge.

    1. Thanks Sheryl. I could have dealt with 40 pounds-the 70 pounds I gained definitely required a Mumu! But I’m all for the post pregnancy house dress, lounger or Mumu:)

  20. I have no doubt you rocked the mumu as you do everything else you wear (and do). Proof again that Mom does always know best. 😀

    That is a truly beautiful photo of you and your babe. So sweet.

    I made a lot of my maternity clothes. I was far more crafty back in the day.

    1. Lisa,
      That’s so impressive that you made your maternity clothes. I think that would have taken too much of my energy what with all of the vomiting, etc. However, I’m not “crafty” that way, so kudos to you. Thanks re the picture. It is one of my favorite ones from that time.

  21. That’s adorable, Estelle. (Not the vomiting part, of course.)

    I only gained 18 pounds during pregnancy, but that’s because I was very careful of everything I ate. Well, almost everything.

    In my family I’m predisposed to being overweight. You know, with all of our Great Aunt Sadie’s and Sophie’s I didn’t want to look like them. Scary stuff.

    1. Thanks Cathy. Wow! Only 18 pounds. That’s amazing. I couldn’t believe how much I gained despite how much I vomited. I think it was all the watermelon that my baby in my belly craved. Watermelon is still her favorite food today!

  22. Such a lovely post. I always saw my grandmother wearing mumu’s and being on my 3rd pregnancy and all I’d have to say I wouldn’t mind wearing one, they’re pretty comfortable aren’t they haha it’s so glad to see that you and your mother are so close, I wish I had a relationship like that with my mom!! 🙂

    1. Hi Teddy,
      Wow, your third pregnancy! My hat is off to you. Yes, you should get yourself a Mumu. It’s the best. Thanks so much for visiting and best of luck with your pregnancy.

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