You know that you will experience a lot of physical changes when you get pregnant. Some of those changes will affect how your clothes fit or don’t fit. It can be so frustrating to feel like you don’t fit into anything in your closet. Thankfully, there are maternity clothes made just for pregnancy. On top of your emotions and feelings about your changing body, you may love shopping and have an unlimited budget, or you may not like going to the mall and not have much, if anything, to spend on maternity clothes. The good news is that we cover all the basic things you need to know about maternity clothes to feel comfortable and stylish no matter how you think about fashion and regardless of your budget. In this episode, we will get into how you can raid your closet for pieces you can wear throughout your pregnancy, what are some must-haves, where to shop for great deals, and how you can feel both comfortable and stylish.
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Body Image and Comfort
All of the physical changes you go through during pregnancy can positively and negatively affect your body image and confidence. Having clothes that are comfortable and that you feel good in can go a long way in giving you confidence and feeling good about your body image. If there is one thing you take away from today’s episode, it is to be comfortable. It is just not worth it to suffer in uncomfortable clothes. Wearing clothing that is too tight or small will not make you feel good physically or emotionally.
Your Maternity Wardrobe Doesn’t Have to Last Forever
Keep in mind that you do not need to wear this stuff forever. You are only pregnant for a short season. After you have your baby, you will not immediately go back to the same size you were pre-pregnancy. Immediately after birth, expect to look like you are about five months pregnant. The clothes you wore during your pregnancy will still have some use in the months after you have your baby.
While it would be nice to have a huge walk-in closet full of stuff, you do not need much. You would be surprised how just a few things can get you through your pregnancy. If you have a small budget or no budget, don’t stress. While it would be nice to buy high quality or designer clothes, you only need maternity clothes for a short period. Don’t feel like you need to make a significant financial investment or buy expensive brands. We will cover the spectrum of where to get the high-end designer stuff and score maternity clothes for little to no cost.
When You Will Need Maternity Clothes
If this is your first pregnancy, you will probably fit in your regular clothes until around the start of the second trimester. Week 12 or 13 is about when you will start showing and find that your clothes are getting tight and less comfortable. If this is not your first pregnancy, or you are pregnant with twins or multiples, you will likely show sooner.
Raiding Your Closet
The first thing you should do before you go out and shop for maternity clothes is to comb through your closet. I guarantee you have some pieces that you will be able to wear throughout your pregnancy. Some great items are longer-fitting or stretchy t-shirts and tanks. These are especially great for layering. You can wear button-down shirts, cardigans, and blazers over a tank or a tee without buttoning them. Low rise pants can be worn below your belly and may fit you for a while. Leggings are great and can be dressed up or dressed down. Raid your closet and see what you already have.
Second Hand Maternity Clothing
If you have a friend who has already had a baby, ask them if they have maternity clothes they don’t need. I am willing to bet that they still have some in their closet, and if they are done having kids, it would be great to get rid of it. If you can get hand me downs from friends or family, you don’t have to love everything you get from them. Even one shirt or a cute dress would make a difference in your new wardrobe. You can always pass along the clothing that isn’t right for you to someone else. Another way to get clothes for no cost is to check if you have a local Buy Nothing group on Facebook or a site like FreeCycle.
Another option to save a lot of money is to shop second hand at a thrift or consignment store. Even if you don’t typically shop second-hand, I urge you to give it a shot. You can get clothes for a fraction of the cost. Buying used clothing is more environmentally friendly because fewer things end up in landfills. Plus, it can decrease the demand for new clothing, which manufacturers often make in countries with have poor working conditions and very low wages. If you are not into the idea of going to a local thrift shop, you can shop second-hand online through websites like ThredUp or Poshmark.
Hacks for Making Pants fit Longer
After raiding your closet, getting hand-me-downs from friends, or shopping second-hand, you should have at least a few things that you will be able to wear throughout your pregnancy, spending little to no money. To save you some more cash, there is a great trick to sport your favorite pair of jeans a little longer. You can take a hair tie or a rubber band, and you loop it through the buttonhole once or twice, then wrap the end of the hair tie or rubber band around the button. This hack keeps your jeans up, but they don’t have to be buttoned all the way, and you will be more comfortable. It is handy to have a longer shirt just to cover this so no one can tell that your jeans are not buttoned all the way.
There is also something called a Bella Band that can modify pants or shorts to fit longer. This is a knit elastic band you can wear over unbuttoned pants. You don’t even have to zip your pants. You can just put the band on. A Bella Band hides everything and helps keep your pants up. You can hide the band entirely with a long shirt, or it can peek through, and it just looks like you have layered a long tank or tee. You can use this band with any pants or shorts, jeans, or dress pants. In my experience, I was constantly adjusting it. It worked great early on, but as my belly grew, I opted for maternity pants, and I was glad I did.
Shopping for Maternity Clothes
Let’s talk about shopping. First, think about what you need. Chances are that right now, you only wear a fraction of the clothes in your closet. What will the weather be like during your pregnancy? Will it be winter or summer? Do you have a job that you have to wear a suit every day? Think about what you already have and what you truly need before going shopping. Ideally, you can find clothes that do double duty for home and work. All of these considerations and pre-planning can prevent you from spending unnecessary money on clothing you don’t need.
Maternity Clothes Sizing
Sizes of maternity clothes work the same way as regular sizes. If you usually wear a medium shirt, you would be a medium in a maternity shirt. The same goes for pants. If you wear size 28 jeans, your maternity jeans would be in size 28. Of course, sizes for every brand can differ, and do keep in mind that your breasts will grow a lot. If you try a top on that is tight early on, you probably won’t fit into it later in your pregnancy.
What makes maternity clothes different from just larger regular clothes is that they are made for a big belly without being big everywhere else. Maternity pants look like regular pants, but they don’t have zippers or buttons. They have a spandex waistline that goes over your belly. They are super comfortable.
Where to Shop
We have so many more options for maternity clothes than our mothers did. Online shopping also adds a ton of additional resources, plus we now have specialty boutique maternity shops. These smaller shops are probably on the expensive side. If they are out of your budget, you could always peek at a clearance rack and see if they have something you like in your price range.
There are maternity-specific stores like Motherhood Maternity. The nice thing about stores specifically for pregnant women is that you know everything will fit a growing bump. Also, the people who work there are helpful and understand the challenges of buying clothes for pregnancy. Like Macy’s, Kohl’s, Target, or Walmart, many big retailers carry maternity clothing. Almost any store will have a much bigger selection online. Before you make a trip to a store, you might want to check and make sure they carry maternity clothes at the location you are going to.
Shopping online is nice because you can try clothing on at home without the pressure of being in a dressing room with terrible lighting and warped mirrors. Plus, you may not want to go into stores in a global pandemic if you can stay home. Don’t overlook retailers like Target or Walmart when shopping for maternity clothes online. A bonus of shopping from a retailer with a location nearby is that if you have returns, you can physically take them into a store if you don’t want to pay for shipping and deal with packaging everything up and going to the post office.
Other options for cute and affordable maternity clothing are H&M or Old Navy. The internet gives you many options and the ability to compare prices without physically going to multiple stores. Amazon is also fantastic for maternity clothes and has a huge selection. If you are concerned about it fitting, look for items with free returns, then you can try it on at home and return it if it doesn’t work. I think you will find you can update your wardrobe for less than you think.
Bras and Underwear
Let’s start with the first layer-bras and underwear. Maternity underwear is underwear with a super high waist. If that is something you want and you don’t mind spending the money, go for it. Maternity underwear is not necessary. Generally, underwear sits pretty low, so you shouldn’t have a problem fitting into whatever size you usually wear.
You will probably need at least one new bra because your breasts are going to grow. There are nursing bras with a little hook that you can disconnect and pull the bra cup down for easy breastfeeding. Of course, you don’t need this function during your pregnancy, but it could come in handy once your baby arrives. While it is convenient to have a nursing bra, you can breastfeed without one. If you are in a store where someone can measure you, and help you find the right size, take advantage of it. You would be surprised how much your boobs grow, and it is nice to have someone help you find one that will fit well. Do not stock up on a ton of bras early on. Your breasts grow throughout your pregnancy, so you may end up needing a couple of sizes. If you work out or run, you may need to get a bigger sports bra or try wearing two for more support. That’s right; I said wear two sports bras. There are solutions for any budget when it comes to making clothes work for your pregnancy.
T-shirts, Tanks, Tops
Hopefully, you found some tops in your closet that you can continue to wear during your pregnancy. Remember, you want long shirts, so they cover your growing belly and the spandex part of maternity pants. If you are buying tops, start with a few in some basic colors. Make sure that the maternity clothes you are buying to go with several other things in your closet. This strategy allows you to take a few pieces and make a lot of outfits. Another reason to go with some basic or neutral colors is if you aren’t buying a ton of stuff, people are less likely to realize you are wearing the same shirt you were the last time you hung out if it isn’t a bright, bold, memorable print. If you are into bright and bold-go or it. Have fun dressing up your bump and experimenting with style however you are comfortable. You can also use statement jewelry or a scarf to dress up a basic top.
Pants, Shorts, and Skirts
If you love your designer jeans, you will be happy to know that you can still get most designer brands in maternity sizes. If you want designer jeans, Nordstrom is a great resource. They will have a bigger selection online than in the store, and they have a fantastic return policy.
Maternity clothing has come a long way, and you can get just about any style of pants in a maternity fit. You do not need expensive jeans to look stylish and feel comfortable. Do not be afraid to try on jeans from a store you wouldn’t usually buy jeans from.
Shorts work the same way pants do in how they fit, and any skirt with an elastic waistband should fit fine under your belly. Leggings are also really versatile, and you can dress them up or down. There are maternity leggings, but you may be able to get by with just regular leggings, as long as they are comfortable. Do not feel like just because you are pregnant, you have to buy everything in maternity sizes. You might find non-maternity clothes that fit great.
Dressing for Work
Pants other than jeans are more limited. If you have to dress professionally for work, try to find pants that match the jackets you already have so you aren’t stuck buying new suits. If you do purchase maternity pants for work, you likely cannot tuck in your shirt. Keep this in mind when buying tops for the office, and try to stick to shirts that are long and hide the spandex maternity band of your pants. If you stick to basic colors for work, you can recycle and mix things and get by without a ton of stuff. If that sounds boring, add in some bold accessories for some pops of color. Remember that you are pregnant for a limited time. If you scale down your wardrobe to a few outfits and rotate them, people will likely not notice as much as you will.
Dresses are amazing when you are pregnant. Often a dress can double as a work outfit and something to wear out and about. They are so comfy, can be super cool in the summer months, should fit a growing belly and your growing breasts. There are some super cute maternity dresses, but most maxi dresses or anything with an empire waist should be fine too. Wrap dresses are also great and can be worn out or at the office. Have some fun with dresses and some different styles; you have a lot of options here.
If you plan to buy a particular dress or outfit for a maternity photoshoot or a baby shower, online shopping is likely the best bet. Plan enough time for shipping so you are not stuck paying to expedite something before a specific date.
Layers are your friend when you are pregnant, especially if the weather is cold. It may be worth getting a sweater or two, but layering a tank under a tee and having a jacket may be fine too. If you want to go out and splurge on a maternity coat, you definitely can, but it may not be a necessity. If you live in a cold climate, you can find outerwear in maternity sizes, but you could also just probably get a bigger size, and it should fit fine.
There is maternity swimwear, and it is usually a one-piece or a tankini, which is a bikini bottom and a tank top. You do not have to cover up your belly at the pool or the beach. Some women will want to do this, and that is totally fine. If you want to sport a two-piece or a bikini, go for it. You will most likely need to go up a size, especially in the top, but two pieces on pregnant women are awesome. If you are comfortable in a bikini, sport it.
There is no such thing as maternity shoes, but please do not wear uncomfortable shoes. Those 6-inch stilettos you have maybe fabulous but might be tough to walk in with the extra weight you will be carrying around and swollen feet.
While there are not shoes made specifically for pregnancy, there are insoles specifically for pregnancy that you can put in your shoes. There are many changes your body goes through during pregnancy that can permanently change the structure of your feet. Your priority with shoes while pregnant should be comfort. Having good arch support and wearing insoles can help prevent some of those structural changes, like your arch collapsing, developing bunions, or even your feet going up a shoe size.
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