The test was positive. You patiently waited your first trimester to tell all your friends and family. Now, amidst all the excitement and congratulations, you begin to notice your pants are becoming uncomfortably snug. Not only that, your boobs are spilling out of your bras. Nothing seems to be fitting quite right. The time has come for maternity clothes!
Since this is baby #3 for me, I don’t have to do any (or much :)) shopping – I just had to recall all my loaned out clothes from the ‘sisterhood of the traveling maternity wardrobe.’ It’s great: all your friends start to have kids, and if you’re similar in size and height, you can share a maternity wardrobe. Saves everyone a ton of money on clothes that you wear for 6 months at a time 2-3 times in your life.
That being said, since this is my third pregnancy, I also know what maternity clothes I actually get decent wear out of and which are totally unnecessary. And better still – I know what regular clothes in my wardrobe I can get away with wearing during pregnancy and nursing too! Confession – in the picture above – there’s only one piece of clothing that is officially, maternity wear. The rest are all regular clothes in my wardrobe, or clothes I bought one size up for wear during pregnancy and nursing.
What to Buy
If you have been to visit a Destination Maternity or Pea in the Pod, you will figure out one thing very quickly – maternity clothes are expensive! And given how little use you will get out of them, you need to be savvy about the pieces you invest in. Assess your need. What is your lifestyle and what clothes can you wear to work? I was super lucky – while pregnant with my first, I was working for a small hedge fund. Our dress code was casual, and unless I was meeting with investors, I could wear jeans to work… which I did, every single day.
Assess Your Need
Whatever you are going to be wearing daily – be it jeans or dress pants for work – and spend your money on those. I bought several pairs of designer maternity jeans over the course of my first two pregnancies, and they are worth every penny. I wear one of them almost every single day, have loaned them out to multiple friends in between, and they still look and fit like new. I don’t spend all day pulling them up, they don’t sag, and they are uber comfortable! (I also bought a maternity suit, which I needed for investor meetings, but was a total waste and should have bought second-hand!) Other than jeans, I would also recommend a great pair of maternity leggings – these pair well with tunics, long cardigans, and even shorter dresses (that get shorter as your belly grows!). Everything else, you can cheap out on!
During pregnancy, layers are your best friend. You can wear long cardigans, over either maternity tees or tanks or even your normal tees and tanks (you may need to buy one size up from your regular size to make it the duration of your pregnancy). Open front cardigans are great for pregnancy, and most others, you can just button one button at your empire waist-line and let the rest drape open.
If you do opt to buy maternity tees or tanks, and are buying them early in your pregnancy, make sure they are roomy enough to grow with you throughout your pregnancy. Length is key as well – as your belly grows out, the shirts pull up and seem shorter. As a typical rule of thumb, maternity clothes are designed to fit based on your regular size. So if you are typically a medium, buy a medium. It may seem roomy at 3-4 months preggo, but don’t worry – it will be fully filled out by 8-9 months!
Embrace Tunics and Maxi Dresses
The nice thing about current trends is they are pregnancy friendly. And summer is much easier to dress for when pregnant. Long, flowing or draped tunics pair easily with leggings or jeans and even in your normal size, will likely fit throughout your pregnancy. Maxi dresses are amazing for pregnancy – they are comfortable, and often, you can just buy a dress in your normal size and it will work all the way through your 9th month. Pair it with a cardigan or jacket to dress it up for the office or a date night!
Where to Buy
For the pieces you are going to be wearing every day and are willing to invest in, it is definitely helpful to go to a store to try things on. Destination Maternity and Pea in the Pod carry great designer maternity denim, as well as nice dress pants for work. Once you are certain of your size, definitely shop around online (including their online stores) as there may be greater variety offered.
I am a huge fan of Citizens for Humanity maternity jeans. Given the ‘sisterhood of the traveling maternity wardrobe’, I have tried several other brands (Gap, Old Navy, Lucky), and by far, they fit the best, are the most comfortable and have held up extremely well through multiple pregnancies. I prefer the over the belly panel, as I feel like it is more comfortable and stays put better than the under belly band. I also love that everyone is always shocked that they are maternity jeans – that’s how great they look! They run true to your pre-pregnancy size (if you are a 29 normally, then order a 29 maternity size – if in between, order up). Fair warning – they are not inexpensive, but I have definitely worn my money’s worth out of them.
Everything Else… Tees, Tanks, Shorts, Etc.
Are you going to a wedding or other dressy event during your pregnancy? Depending on when it falls, you may be able to get away with normal clothing by just ordering up a size or wearing a fancier maxi-style dress, dressed up with nice accessories. For other dressy options, check out Isabella Oliver Maternity. It’s a favorite maternity brand of Hollywood’s A-listers (aka not inexpensive), but if it’s your sister’s wedding or a black tie event, they have some stellar options. There’s also a great re-sale market for maternity clothes, so you will likely be able to get some money back, or shop for options in second-hand shops.
For summer, or tropical vacations, you will likely need a swimsuit. I rocked a two piece while pregnant, but had to get a bigger top to accommodate my hormone inflated chest. For more modest maternity options, this season, I think Target has the best assortment (i.e. everything isn’t a black tankini) and price.
What Not to Buy
There are definitely things you can skip buying, namely underwear. You do not need maternity underwear. Your normal underwear will fit just fine, resting below your belly throughout your pregnancy. Bras may be a different story. You may need to buy a larger cup-size for pregnancy, but DO NOT invest in nursing bras until your milk actually comes in. I made this mistake with my first pregnancy. I go up one cup-size while pregnancy, and another 2-3 from that when nursing. I let a sales girl convince me the largest size they had in the store would be big enough – it definitely wasn’t.
It is extremely important to buy nursing bras that fit well, as ill-fitting ones can lead to blocked ducts and mastitis, as well as reducing production. I would also recommend avoiding under-wires. When the time does come to purchase nursing bras, these are by far my favorite, and comfortable enough to even sleep in! And they are not fitted by cup-size, so you can buy and wear them during pregnancy and they will (likely) still fit when you are nursing.
Maternity clothes are short-lived as it is… do not waste your money on clothes that are only good for your second trimester. It’s a waste – buy things that will fit for the full 6 months you need them.
Maybe it’s just me, but I found the need for nursing clothes, other than a proper nursing bra, to be completely unnecessary. If you wear layers, a shirt that lifts or unbuttons easily, nursing clothes are more trouble and expense than they are worth. If you are a modest or concerned about nursing in public (NIP), invest in a single nursing cover – it’s probably cheaper than a single nursing shirt and you will get more use out of it.
Last, but Not Least…
The only other thing I found to be a lifesaver during pregnancy was my Snoogle Body Pillow. You will reach a stage where it is uncomfortable to sleep at night. You aren’t supposed to sleep flat on your back, if you are a stomach sleeper, you definitely can’t do that anymore. Between peeing in the middle of the night, and being uncomfortable, I was tossing and turning half the night.
For Valentine’s Day, when I was pregnant with my first, my husband bought me the Snoogle. He told me he noticed I wasn’t sleeping well, and he did some research online and read these help pregnant women sleep. It might be the nicest, most thoughtful gift he has ever gotten me. It is amazing and helps you rest comfortably as your body grows another tiny human.
Congratulations on your new addition to the family! I hope you found some helpful tips to build your maternity wardrobe. If you’ve already done some shopping, what is your favorite maternity piece or place to shop? Anything else you couldn’t live without while pregnant (other than chocolate, of course!)?
If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out all our helpful posts for when you are expecting, and our favorites from around the web on our What to Expect board on Pinterest.