Everything You Need to Know About Maternity Clothes

Back when your grandmother was shopping for maternity clothes, there weren't a lot of options or designers. Instead, she was forced to wear large tent-like dresses, muumuus, and other unflattering designs when her regular clothes would no longer fit. Fortunately, for today's modern mother, there are a number of designers who have embraced maternity clothing and are putting out some really cute stuff.

But, if you're a first-time mom, you may have a lot of questions about maternity clothes, like "Do I really need them?" or "How do I find something to wear without breaking the bank?" Here are some tips on everything from dressing the bump to coming to terms with your changing pregnancy body.

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How Will Pregnancy Change My Body?

Do You Really Need Maternity Clothing?

Some first-time moms are able to wear a lot of their regular clothes, especially maxi dresses and other loose-fitting items and never have to invest in maternity clothing. Meanwhile, other moms find that it's hard to look put together—or feel comfortable—in anything but maternity clothes.

Ultimately, it comes down to a matter of personal preference and comfort. If you can find something comfortable in your closet, or your partner's closet, then go for it. But don't feel bad about picking up a few things in order to have something to wear.

Just remember that wearing tight clothing during pregnancy is generally not recommended. Aside from feeling restricted, tight clothing also can lead to a host of issues. For instance, wearing something tight while pregnant can cause pain in different parts of the body. It also can reduce blood circulation and may even lead to yeast infections.

As a result, if your clothes are starting to feel uncomfortable and cause you discomfort, it may be time to either raid your partner's closet or shop for some maternity clothes.

Coming to Terms with Your Changing Body

For some women, the thought of gaining weight and becoming curvier as their pregnancy progresses is a difficult concept to deal with. Combine this with the fact that many people feel it's OK to make insensitive comments like "wow, you are getting big," and it becomes clear why many women would 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. Here are some tips on how to come to terms with your changing body.

Give Yourself a Break

Remember, you are growing a baby inside of you! That is an amazing, wonderful gift, and your protruding belly is just a reminder of the miracle that is growing 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

Too many times, women 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.

Instead of worrying about getting something back, think about what you're getting in return. You should be in awe of what your body is doing. Having a baby is no simple task and you're doing something incredible.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Too many times women worry about how their body looks in comparison to other women. The comparison game is cruel and doesn't do you any favors. In fact, comparing yourself to others not only leads to insecurities but an overall dissatisfaction with your body. And that is the last place you want your mind going.

Instead, remind yourself that this is a season in your life — one that you won't be able to repeat when you're older. So, don't spend your time comparing yourself to others. 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 feel more confident and secure in the changes that are taking place. As a result, be sure you are resting when you need to. Get your nails done. Schedule a massage, or attend a water aerobics class. You also should focus on eating nutritious food that makes you feel balanced and healthy. Do things that make you feel good and keep your body healthy.

Finding Maternity Clothes Without Breaking the Bank

Once you have come to terms with the fact that you may need to invest in some maternity clothing, especially when it comes to comfort, it can be hard to know where exactly to find things to wear. Aside from running out to Nordstrom's, Macy's, or Motherhood Maternity, here are a few ideas on building your pregnancy wardrobe without breaking the bank.

Shop Your Own Closet

Before you run out and buy 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 friend who was recently pregnant, ask if she has anything that she can loan you or that you can purchase from her. You can save a lot of money (and time) by wearing things that a friend wore during her pregnancy. You can always make these items your own by pairing them with things you already have.

Look for Deals

Keep an eye out for sales, consignment stores, and online items. Many times, you will happen across 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 calculate 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 a pair of jeans, leggings, and basic tops that can be both professional or casual. Consider the things you have at home and buy pieces that will complement those items.

For instance, a nice pair of jeans with an elastic waist, a pair of black pants, and a button-down shirt can be used interchangeably. You could pair the jeans with a colorful cotton tank from home and wear the button-down over it like a sweater or a cardigan. For a more professional setting, wear the black pants with the button down and add a cardigan and some cute jewelry from home.

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 don't go 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. So, make sure if you're going to purchase something that you select an item that will grow with your changing body. 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.

Tips for Dressing the Bump

The thought of dressing in maternity clothes can leave many women feeling 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. Here are a few tips on how to dress that bump and still feel good about the way you look.

Accentuate Your Features

One thing fashion experts recommend is to choose clothing that will elongate your silhouette like v-necks, button-down shirts, and dresses. The goal is to make yourself look taller. It's also a good idea to accentuate your legs. They can 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. It's the one time in your life where people will not think twice about the fact that your stomach sticks out. So, enjoy it while you can. 

Pick Something Comfortable

As mentioned earlier, tight-fitting and uncomfortable clothing comes with a few risks. Aside from causing pain and discomfort, tight-fitting clothes also can reduce your circulation and lead to yeast infections.

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 uncomfortable?

Stick With Your Pre-Pregnancy Style

If you're not someone who normally wears floral print dresses, there is no need to start now while 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 pair or two of maternity jeans and a couple of fun T-shirts. And, 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 the tent dresses and muumuus are over.

Don't Neglect the Footwear

Choosing the right shoes to complement your outfits is a must. When you're pregnant, your feet may swell and your balance may not be quite what it was. After all, you do have a few pounds protruding from the front of your body. So, 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 unstable.

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 want to cobble together outfits from what you already own, or you want to carefully select your maternity pieces at a clothing store nearby, the choice is yours.

For the first time in your life, you don't have to worry about breaking any fashion rules. Most people are very forgiving when it comes to what a mom-to-be is wearing. They would rather talk about baby names. So relax, have a little fun, and get creative.

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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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