Everything You Need to Know About Maternity Clothes

Many people dread shopping for maternity clothes. One of the top worries is that there won't be a lot of comfortable—and attractive—options to choose from. However, the stereotype of tent-like dresses or otherwise unflattering designs is just no longer true. Today, there is a huge range of pregnancy clothing choices and many designers have taken maternity wear to the next level.

In addition to finding out where to source easy-to-wear, nice-looking pregnancy outfits, you may also wonder when to start wearing maternity clothes, how to feel good about your wardrobe (and body) as your shape changes, where to shop, and how much you'll need to spend.

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How Will Pregnancy Change My Body?

Do You Really Need Maternity Clothing?

If and when you need maternity clothing comes down to personal preference and comfort. Some people can wear their regular clothes for much of their pregnancies. This is especially true if they are pregnant for the first time and already have a closet full of maxi dresses and other loose-fitting or stretchy items.

Others may not have to invest in maternity clothing until the third trimester. Meanwhile, some find that it's hard to look put-together—or feel comfortable—in anything but maternity clothes almost from the get-go.

Ultimately, there is no right or wrong. Every body, how it changes during pregnancy, and each person's clothing needs and tastes are unique. If you can find something that fits and feels good in your closet or your partner's closet, then go for it. But it's also always an option to buy some maternity clothes so that you'll have something to wear that fits well, feels good, and looks good.

Remember that wearing tight clothing during pregnancy is generally not recommended. Aside from feeling uncomfortable, constricting garments also can lead to a host of health issues, such as pain, reduced blood circulation, and even yeast infections. If your clothes are starting to feel tight, it may be time to raid your partner's or friends' closets or shop for some maternity clothes.

Embracing Your Changing Body

For some people, the thought of gaining weight and becoming curvier as their pregnancy progresses is exciting. For others, putting on the needed pounds and experiencing the many other changes in their bodies that occur during pregnancy is difficult.

Some pregnant people feel unsettled by the way their growing bodies feel on display. Combine this with the fact that many people feel free to make insensitive comments like, "Wow, you are getting big," and it becomes clear why some people feel uncomfortable in their pregnant bodies. Some people even try to hide their pregnancy for as long as possible.

But you shouldn't let the fear of getting bigger keep you from embracing your pregnancy and your beautiful body. It may help to make a conscious effort to change your mindset.

Celebrate What Your Body Is Doing

Remember, you are growing a baby inside of you. Focus on the remarkable work your body is doing. That is an amazing, wonderful gift, and your protruding belly is a reminder of the miracle that is developing inside of you.

Remind yourself that being pregnant isn't always easy and that you deserve to be celebrated. Don't let fears about your size or weight gain keep you from enjoying the fact that you're giving life to another person.

Stay in the Moment

Sometimes, pregnant people lament about how hard it's going to be to get back to their "pre-pregnancy body." But this kind of thinking keeps you stuck in the past.

Pregnancy changes you. Yes, it changes you physically. But it also changes you mentally and emotionally. And that is a good thing. Embrace what you are experiencing right now. And, focus on taking care of your pregnant body. So, instead of worrying about getting something back, think about what you're getting in return—your very own baby.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

It can be easy to worry about how your body looks in comparison to other pregnant bodies. However, every body is unique and beautiful and you don't need to look like anyone else. Comparing yourself to others often leads to insecurities or overall dissatisfaction with your body. Research shows that negative body image during pregnancy can adversely impact psychological well-being.

Instead, remind yourself that this is a season in your life—one that you won't be able to repeat. So, don't spend your time comparing yourself to others or lamenting the size or shape of your physical self. Live in the moment and appreciate how your body is changing to accommodate the little life that is growing inside of you.

Practice Self-Care

When you're loving and caring toward your body, you'll likely feel more enthusiastic about the changes that are taking place. So, in addition to getting enough rest, exercise, and nutritious food, do the things that make you feel relaxed and happy.

For example, go on a walk, call a friend, take a bath, do yoga, get your nails done, schedule a massage, or attend a water aerobics class. Additionally, buying some maternity clothes you love can also be a great form of self-care.

Where to Buy Maternity Clothing

You can find quality maternity clothing from a huge variety of retailers, large and small, in-store and online. Consider your budget, taste, wardrobe needs, and lifestyle when picking where to shop. Many department stores now offer maternity sections. There are also numerous practical and fashionable stand-alone maternity specialty brands, such as A Pea in the Pod, Seraphine, PinkBlush Maternity, Baby Be Mine, and Sweet Mommy Maternity.

Hatch, Filly Boo, and ASOS Maternity are great brands for unique, quality, trendy looks. If you're looking for inexpensive basics, try Motherhood Maternity and Boohoo Maternity. Some other great options are well-known, reasonably priced large retailers that also offer maternity wear like The Gap, Old Navy, Target, and H&M.

Another option is to rent your maternity clothing rather than buy it, or try a subscription service. Le Tote can outfit you with whatever you need. Then, simply return it once it no longer fits—or you've had the baby.

Sourcing Inexpensive Maternity Clothes

You'll likely need to invest in some maternity clothing, especially when it comes to ensuring comfort and fit. But there are other ways to source some of the items you'll need to fill out your pregnancy wardrobe.

Shop Your Own Closet

Before you stock up on an entire maternity wardrobe, look through your own closet and see what might work. For instance, loose-fitting maxi dresses, flowing skirts and tops, oversized button-down shirts, large sweaters and cardigans, and jersey-style shirts and dresses that are soft and stretchy all work well on pregnant bodies. Move these items to the front of your closet and build on them by adding pieces that complement them.

Borrow From Friends

If you have a similarly sized friend who was recently pregnant, consider asking if they have anything that they can loan you or that you can purchase from them. You can save a lot of money (and time) by wearing things that a stylish friend wore during their pregnancy. You can make these items your own by pairing them with pieces you already have.

Look for Deals

Keep an eye out for sales, consignment stores, and online items. Many times, you can find some great bargains. You just have to be willing to shop around. It's also a good idea not to wait until the last minute to purchase things.

For instance, if you know you have a wedding coming up in June and it's April, start thinking about what you might like to wear and try to buy something in advance. Waiting until the last minute often means you have to spend more than you wanted. Just be sure to factor in how much bigger you will be when you need to wear it.

Keep It Simple

When you do shop for maternity clothes, stick to the basics like jeans, leggings, and versatile tops that can be both professional or casual. Consider the things you have at home and buy pieces that will complement those pieces.

For instance, a pair of jeans, a pair of black pants, and a button-down shirt can be used interchangeably with many other items. Pair the jeans with a colorful cotton tank you already own and wear the button-down over it like a cardigan. For a more professional setting, wear the black pants with the button-down and add a cardigan and some cute jewelry.

By purchasing items that can be mixed and matched with what you already have, you can expand your wardrobe. Try to avoid purchasing one-dimensional items that will be difficult to pair with anything else.

Buy Items That Grow With You

When shopping, keep in mind that the size you are now is not the size you will be at 34 weeks or later. So, make sure if you're going to purchase something that you select an item that will grow with your changing body or that you can grow into. You don't want to buy several pairs of jeans at 20 weeks and have to turn around and buy more at 30 weeks. Try to pick items that will expand or stretch as you expand and stretch.

Dressing the Bump

The thought of dressing in maternity clothes may leave you feeling excited—or frustrated and overwhelmed. With so many changes going on in your body, it can be hard to know what to wear and what to buy.

Accentuate Your Features

Fashion experts recommend choosing clothing that will elongate your silhouette, like v-necks, button-down shirts, and dresses. The idea is to make yourself look taller. Many people also like to accentuate their legs. They tend to look longer and leaner under a growing belly with the right choice of skirts or pants.

Don't Hide Your Bump

Remember you're growing a baby inside of you. So, be proud of those curves. Now is the time to wear those soft, form-fitting shirts and jersey-like dresses that show off your growing curves. Enjoy showing off your belly—other people tend to love seeing your bump, too.

Pick Something Comfortable

Tight-fitting and uncomfortable clothing comes with a few risks. Aside from causing pain and discomfort, tight-fitting clothes also can reduce circulation, make you feel overheated, and lead to infections. Instead, pick something breathable, stretchy, soft, and/or loose-fitting.

Your number one goal in selecting maternity clothes should be comfort, especially later into the pregnancy. As your body grows and you get closer to delivery, you'll already be feeling a little uncomfortable. Why make it worse by selecting clothes that are tight or don't feel good?

Stick With Your Pre-Pregnancy Style

If you're not someone who normally wears floral print dresses, there is no need to start just because you are pregnant. In fact, you should be able to find maternity clothes that match your style. For instance, if you normally wear jeans and T-shirts, then invest in a few pairs of maternity jeans and a couple of fun T-shirts.

If you normally wear leggings, then, by all means, purchase some leggings for your growing body. Or, if you need a more professional style at work, you can mimic that with maternity clothes just as easily. Remember, the days of being relegated to tent dresses and frumpy blouses is over.

Don't Neglect the Footwear

Choosing the right shoes to complement your outfits is a must. When you're pregnant, your feet may grow or swell and your balance may not be quite what it was. Choose shoes that are not only comfortable but stable enough for you to walk in. This doesn't mean that heels are off limits. Just be sure that they're comfortable and that you can walk in them without feeling off-balance.

A Word from Verywell

When it comes to maternity clothing, it certainly isn't a one-size-fits-all endeavor. In fact, there are plenty of ways to approach dressing your pregnant body. Whether you cobble together outfits from what you already own or carefully select your maternity pieces at a specialty clothing store, the choice is yours. The most important thing is that you feel comfortable and like yourself in what you're wearing, so you can focus on enjoying growing the baby inside you.

5 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Sherri Gordon
Sherri Gordon, CLC is a published author, certified professional life coach, and bullying prevention expert.