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You guys, maxi dresses are the best when you're preggers! I got this Island Shop dress (not maternity, mind you) during my first trimester when my bump was barely showing. But I bought the dress in a bigger size, knowing well that it'll be handy later down the road when all other clothing will refuse to fit me! Sure enough, during the final stages of my third trimester, this dress has become a closet staple. It's made of a light fabric which is super breathable and comfy - an important distinction in this humid, tropical weather in Singapore! Island Shop (locations in Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand) has a nice collection of casual and beach wear that embodies the tropical, island style. I've been able to get mileage out of this maxi dress at work by pairing it with a structured denim jacket, for evening dinners with heels and a nice clutch, and for casual weekend wear with cute sandals. The best part? Since it isn't a maternity dress, I can still wear it after the baby arrives! Win-win.

By the way, this dress isn't the only non-maternity item of clothing that I've been making work for me. I have 2 pairs of regular jeans from Zara that I purchased at bigger sizes and I wear them with a belly band (see here and here).  I got a white top from Forever 21 which I wear often for work (paired with a blazer) or casually outside of work (see post here). Then the pink embroidered dress from Mogra Designs is another example (see post here). They are still wearable and comfortable even at this late stage in my pregnancy.

So bottom line for making non-maternity clothes work for you? Pick items that you foresee as being closet staples. Then buy them at a size bigger than your current state. A-line or roomy dresses, blazers, jeans, and loose tops are articles of clothing you will potentially wear throughout your pregnancy...so you don't always need to specifically shop from a maternity store for them. Just make sure they suit your body shape and don't make you appear like you're wearing a tent. Pregnancy is no excuse for looking frumpy! Lastly, these clothes can always be adjusted post-pregnancy with tailoring, as needed.

Thank you Kamana from SocialandStyle for patiently taking these pictures for me! :)

Dress, belt, and bracelet by Island Shop | Shoes by Charles & Keith |
Crossbody purse by Coach | Sunglasses by Emporio Armani | Watch by Kate Spade

When people think of Chinatown, they imagine narrow, bustling streets, crammed stores and people milling about, selling of fake handbags and electronics, street vendors, and hole-in-the-wall Chinese diners, etc. Interestingly, the Chinatown of Singapore is a far cry from that.  Yes, there are some old mom & pop shops, street stalls and vendors for sure. But you'd be surprised to know that a good portion of Chinatown here is actually quite trendy and happening. Walk along certain parts and you will see colorful shophouses that have been converted into cool restaurants and bars while still maintaining their original exteriors. Inner street alleys have funky stores selling TinTin collectibles or varieties of different teas and tea accessories against the backdrop of the Old Buddha Relic Temple. Wander into narrow winding streets, like Keong Saik Road, and you will see an old Hindu temple just a few steps down from a hidden speakeasy called The Library which requires a secret password for entry. It is definitely a mix of old and new, unexpected yet still authentic.

This is me over the weekend walking around Keong Saik Road, sticking to the casual weekend basics: torn jeans (these non-maternity Zara jeans still fit me because I purposely bought them a few months ago at a bigger size), white top, and a fun bomber jacket. And when your hair is greasy like mine, just wear it up in a bun and pretend that was the plan all along. :)

Jacket and top from Forever 21 | Zara jeans | Mules from DMK, Singapore |
Rebecca Minkoff Round Sofia crossbody bag | Sunglasses from RayBan

There are little tips you pick up along the way when you attend prenatal yoga classes and speak to other expecting mums. One neat little trick I learned from my prenatal yoga instructor was the idea of a tennis ball massage. It's something super simple but I hadn't considered it until it was mentioned to me. So in the spirit of sharing knowledge, let me tell you about the use of a tennis ball during pregnancy. There are certain aches and pains that you'll inevitably feel at times during the course of your pregnancy - whether it's neck or shoulder stiffness, upper or lower back pain, gluteal or pelvic soreness...you name it! Often these places are hard to reach by yourself and you can't always stroll into a prenatal yoga massage place (they're expensive and sometimes you just need a quick fix).

Here are some ways to effectively utilize the tennis ball for a quick massage during your pregnancy:

Option 1: Sit on it! Literally sit your body on a yoga mat and lean into the tennis ball under the area that is troubling you. In my case, it's been hip/gluteal soreness. So what do I do? As shown in the picture above, I sit sideways against the ball and sink into the ground. Breathe deeply and hold that posture for a few seconds. It will be painful because the firmness of the tennis ball digs into your trouble spot and gets into the muscle fascia. Then slowly and gently roll over the ball so it massages the area that is affecting you. The ball is effectively working like a mini-foam roller giving you a deep tissue massage. Switch sides and repeat. Do it a couple times and you'll feel a difference!

Option 2: Lean against the wall with the ball and roll your body against it. For example, if your upper back is feeling a bit stiff, position the ball between the wall and your upper back. Then move your body in circles against that area to feel the gentle massaging effects.

Option 3: Have Mr. Husband (or any willing family member or friend) rub the tennis ball against your back while you are sitting on a stability ball or in a cross-legged position. Have them roll the ball against their palm down your upper and lower back or use the motion of making concentric circles over the back using the ball. You can ask them to modify the pressure as you like it. Believe me, it feels yummy!

Lastly, you can't go wrong with gentle yoga stretches to keep your body in a happy condition. Check out the photo and my short videos below showing the downward dog, hip openers, pigeon pose, and side stretches that will benefit your back, hamstrings, hips and thighs!

Downward Dog-Pigeon Pose

Hamstring and Side Stretches
While it may be hard to think about how to look dressy when you're pregnant, sometimes simplicity in style is best. Go for a well-cut and well-tailored dress with one thing that makes a statement. In this case, I had the color RED do the talking. This ASOS maternity dress just pops because of its bright color. I took it to the tailor to get it altered a bit so that it would fit me better across the shoulders. But other than that, it was good to go! Perfect for an evening date, a night out with friends, or any event that requires you to dress up your bump!

I wore this dress during my recent trip to Hawaii for an evening date with my husband. To add a bit of local flair, I threw on the Hawaiian kukui nut black shell necklace but felt it looked kinda hippy...so then I decided to wrap the beaded shell necklace around my hands like a bracelet. I think it works better! So you'll notice in the pictures why the necklace is suddenly missing around my neck!

ASOS Maternity Dress | Fendi embellished leather shoulder bag |
Sunglasses by Persol | Shoes by Charles & Keith

If anyone were to ask me what I've discovered during my second pregnancy which I didn't know about the first time around, I would say: the stability ball (or exercise ball, as some call it). Yes, I'm talking about that large, bouncy ball thingy that you may have seen lying in the corner at gyms. You may even have used one during your workouts, likely when forced to do so by a fitness trainer. Well, during this pregnancy, I've discovered the power of the stability ball! For me, it's been a super handy prop for my workouts as well as a source of relief for my back pain.

No doubt, there is a lot of information you can find online about how stability balls can be a helpful companion to your pregnancy-related workouts. Here, I'm going to talk about how I've been incorporating this innocuous exercise ball into my daily life and how it has worked well for me. (As a disclaimer, please do consult your doctor before doing something you're unsure of! You and your physician will know best your condition.)

Pick the right ball
First things first, stability balls come in different diametrical sizes so it is important to pick the right size. A good rule of thumb to follow is to pick one which allows a 90 degree angle or slightly higher between the hips and knees with feet firmly planted on the floor. For more details, you can refer to websites which outline optimal sizes based on one's height. 

Physical Relief Benefits
The stability ball has proved to be a fun and easy way for me to improve my posture and balance. Sitting on the ball notably relieves the pressure on my back and hips and instantly adjusts my body in a more comfortable and upright spinal position. Whenever I come from a long day of either sitting at work or standing for many hours, I come home and sit on the ball and gently bounce around on it (much to my son's amusement). It's now my go-to chair in the house and I'm even tempted to bring it to the workplace! Besides reducing back pain and pressure, the exercise ball is also said to encourage blood flow to the uterus and to prime your baby to settle into the downward anterior position. 

Fitness Benefits
The exercise ball is a great accompaniment to your prenatal workouts, especially during the later stages of your pregnancy where hardcore workouts, like jogging and heavy cardio, are tougher to pull off. I use the ball to do a variety of workouts such as:
- Sitting on the ball and doing different arm strengthening exercises using light weights
- Wall squat to target thighs and buttocks
- Side leg lifts supported by the ball
- Kegel exercises for strengthening your pelvic floor (many underestimate the importance of doing this exercise. This may be more than you want to know but if you want to avoid loose pelvic floor muscles and incontinence later on, this is crucial!)

There are several more exercises you can do as assisted by the exercise ball but check out my quick video below to get an idea of what I've been doing. Basically, I do 10-15 reps of each exercise (can adjust this number, depending on your comfort and fitness level) in a sequence followed by a break. Then I repeat until I have completed 3 sets. It's a good, light workout to get your heart pumping and to keep you strong and fit. Bottom line: low impact, high return.

Here are some additional links I found helpful when looking for guidance on prenatal fitness using a stability ball:
Bump2Mum Fitness
Youtube videos:
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHbASGHZEAQ
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbvQjrXB2BI