Few options for maternity clothes in Sudbury, Ont., say pregnant women
When Sudbury's Jennifer Holub became pregnant during the pandemic she learned it was difficult to find clothes that fit.
It turned out the northeastern Ontario city no longer had a store fully dedicated to maternity wear.
"I was really surprised to find out that they didn't exist at all," Holub said.
"So online shopping was an option, but I didn't want to waste money and gamble on something that ultimately wasn't going to fit and go into places like thrift stores."
Holub thought other pregnant people probably had many of the same issues finding clothes that fit, so she started an online swap group for maternity and breastfeeding items.
In a short time, the group grew to 580 members from Greater Sudbury.
"So basically in the group, people can post things that they no longer need and someone will commit to stopping by their house and picking it up from them," Holub said.
As a teacher, she said it was important for her to still look professional during her pregnancy, and the swap group helped.
It was also a way to give clothes someone might just wear for a short period of time, some new life.
"I think there's a move towards people buying secondhand things in general or previously loved items in general because more and more, I think collectively we're becoming aware of the tremendous toll that new clothing has on our planet environmentally," Holub said.
Lora Wahamaa, also of Sudbury, said she ended up wearing some of her husband's clothes, that were four or five sizes too big for her, when she was pregnant in 2020.
Wahamaa said that as a tall woman, she is 5'11, her clothing options are limited at the best of times.
"I'm built like a linebacker, so buying clothes online for me is next to impossible." she said.
While she said clothing swaps like the one Holub started are great for average-sized women, there are fewer options available for taller or plus-size women.
Limited retail options
While chains like H&M, Walmart and Old Navy have maternity wear sections, the options can be limited.
Sudbury also has a small consignment store called Sweet Cheeks Maternity and Children's Store, which has been around for 12 years.
Beth Coth, the store's owner, said she remembers it was difficult to find maternity clothing when she was pregnant with her daughter in 2007.
Three years later she opened her small shop.
"It's extremely hard," she said about finding maternity clothing in Sudbury.
"We don't have any brick and mortar stores at all in northern Ontario, as far as I know. Some of the big box stores have a couple of items here and there. But other than that, I've had people as far as Kingston come up to buy some maternity clothes."
Because she operates a consignment store, Coth said her stock can vary daily.
Sudbury had two dedicated maternity stores in the past: Motherhood Maternity and Thyme Maternity. Thyme Maternity was a chain under the Montreal-based retailer Reitmans, but they shuttered the stores in 2020.
Coth said a lot of expecting mothers today choose stretchier clothing, like yoga pants, instead of purpose-designed maternity clothing.
She said a lot of retailers are moving to online shopping because it saves them costs on rent, insurance and overhead costs.
With files from Sam Juric