Maternity clothing is a billion-dollar industry, and with approximately 10,000 babies born daily in the U.S. alone, one doesn’t have to wonder why! Before pregnancy, you may have daydreamed about cute pregnancy outfits and ways to show off your bump. But now that you’re pregnant, you may be wondering, when do I actually need to start wearing maternity clothes, and what do I need?
The good news is that a few quality maternity basics can go a long way, and it’s easy to find affordable, stylish maternity clothes that match your personality. This article covers everything you need to know about maternity clothing, from when you’ll need to start wearing them, what you’ll need, and where to purchase the best maternity pieces. So read on to find out everything you need to know about maternity clothing!
When to Start Wearing Maternity Clothes
The decision to switch from your regular clothes to maternity fashions will have a lot to do with your growing bump and related changes to your body. The switch usually happens around the end of the first trimester or the beginning of the second trimester for many pregnant women.
While your clothes may not change to maternity wear until weeks 12-14, you may find it more comfortable to wear a nursing bra or maternity bra earlier. Since your breasts are one of the first parts of your body that will enlarge and become tender during pregnancy, a nursing bra can provide some extra needed support.
Your need to switch to maternity clothes will also be determined by whether or not this is your first pregnancy. Second or third pregnancies tend to show earlier than first pregnancies because your uterus doesn’t shrink back to its original size postpartum.
As your pregnancy progresses, your body will change sizes, and it’s more than likely that you will need to purchase more than one set of maternity clothes. So, try not to splurge on a lot of trendy maternity clothing when you first show because those clothes may only fit you for a few months.
If you know you have a special occasion or vacation planned during your pregnancy, wait until closer to the event to buy your outfit or swimwear because your baby bump can quickly change in size.
You can also check out sites like Rent the Runway for maternity dresses for significant events like weddings or reunions, especially if you don’t want to shell out the money to purchase something for a one-time occasion.
During the first trimester, most women can get by with some comfy leggings, oversized t-shirts or blouses, and a wrap dress or two without having to spend big bucks for an entire maternity wardrobe just yet.
What to Look for in Maternity Clothes
If you’ve ever peeked at the maternity section at your favorite store, you know that a brand new maternity wardrobe can be expensive. Therefore, it is best to decide your budget and ideal price points for various items before heading into the store; otherwise, you could quickly become overwhelmed.
Look for soft, comfortable clothes you can wear repeatedly and that you can easily mix and match together. Chances are that your maternity wardrobe will be about half a size bigger than your normal one, so you’ll need to multipurpose maternity styles.
Purchase some new accessories to jazz up and change your wardrobe. Scarves, shawls, chunky statement necklaces, and headbands are all ways to alter your look effortlessly.
Pointers for choosing maternity basics
- Choose tees, cardigans, dresses, etc., in solid colors so that you can mix-match: red, navy, grey, black, etc.
- A good pair (or two) of maternity jeans is worth the investment.
- Choose pants with stretchy or adjustable waists so they can grow with you through your pregnancy.
- Maxi dresses with high waistlines or wrap dresses that are adjustable give you room to grow and are great pieces to own (they can be worn postpartum as well).
- Shop off-season for basics to hit sales and discounts.
- Purchase maternity clothes second hand.
- Maternity leggings are a must and can be used for everyday wear or loungewear.
- A belly band can extend your wardrobe and provide back and front support to your expanding bump.
- A body-con dress is a good investment because you can make it look dressy or casual.
Think through the seasons of your pregnancy - for example, if you’re due in March, then you’ll be the most pregnant and biggest in February, which is the peak of winter. You probably don’t need too many maternity dresses and swimsuits as you’ll be bundled up when you’re eight to nine months pregnant.
Essential Maternity Pieces
Even if you aim to purchase as few maternity-specific pieces as possible, there are a few basics you need to have in your wardrobe. Wearing maternity clothes shouldn’t mean giving up your sense of style or comfort, and while you may be able to get away with leggings and oversize tees most of your pregnancy, here are the must-have items:
- 2 or 3 pairs of maternity jeans or trousers
- Maternity bras and underwear
- Joggers or activewear
- A belly band
- A swimsuit
- A sweater or cardigan
- A handful of ruched maternity tees and tops.
If you want to avoid unnecessary purchases or stuffing your closet full of clothing you may never wear again, remember that renting clothing is always an option. Purchasing your maternity clothes second-hand, especially the basics, is another cost-saving method. Plus, you can always turn around and donate the clothing back post-pregnancy!
Keep in mind that you will likely be wearing maternity clothes postpartum for several weeks and possibly months, so choosing clothes you like and that are comfortable is essential: look for pieces that will transition well post-baby.
The Best Maternity Brands
Whether you are a fashionista or simply want quality and comfort, this section breaks down the top maternity brands and what they have to offer. Here is a list of brands that sell the best options to help you dress comfortably and in style.
Boohoo’s maternity line is cute, stylish, and affordable, so you won’t spend a fortune on clothes you will only wear for a few months. In addition to trendy, cost-effective clothes, their maternity sizing chart is detailed and easy to use, which guarantees a great fit even when ordering online. Of course, your clothing size pre-pregnancy should be the same size as maternity; however, we all know that each clothing store seems to vary.
Gap & Old Navy
The same company, Gap Inc., owns Gap and Old Navy clothing brands, and their maternity clothes are perfect to stock your basics at an affordable price. Gap.com offers adorable, cozy rompers and jumpsuits perfect for lounging around, but they can also be dressed up for a night out. Old Navy is an excellent store to check out during Black Friday sales, and you could also stock up on affordable baby clothes at the same time!
Envie De Fraise
Envie De Fraise is known for its trendy maternity wear, and they offer a huge selection of clothing, lingerie, nursing bras, and accessories. Their adorable line of affordable dresses are designed for all body types and silhouettes and are perfect for your baby shower or another special dressy event.
If you’re looking to channel Kate Middleton’s elegant and straightforward maternity style, Seraphine must be on your list. In addition to being a shop favored by the duchess during her pregnancies, the clothing is affordable and practical. Their designs feature a lot of solid colors, stripes, and ruched sides, and their denim maternity overalls are adorable!
ASOS maternity clothing is hip, youthful, and affordable, and most importantly, they are a one-stop shop for everything from your basic tee to swimwear and lingerie. ASOS sells its own line of maternity clothing along with other retailers like Mamalicious Maternity, Hope & Ivy Maternity, Urban Bliss Maternity, and many more.
ASOS Maternity was another fashion line Kate Middleton was often seen sporting during her pregnancies. The duchess was spotted wearing this adorable navy dress when pregnant with Prince George. While ASOS no longer sells the dress on their site, it can be found at times on eBay, along with many of their other adorable designs.
A Pea in the Pod
A Pea in the Pod is your one-stop-shop for maternity clothing. They sell an extensive range of designer and well-known brands such as Hatch, Splendid, Beyond the Bump, and more. Currently, their only retail stores are located in Chicago and New York City, but if you’re planning a babymoon, why not head to the city that never sleeps? While you’re there, you can also hit up Macy’s, Nordstrom, and Saks Fifth Ave.
Motherhood Maternity is one of the oldest and well-known maternity stores with retailers nationwide. In addition to their own clothing brand, they sell several other maternity lines, including A Pea in the Pod, Articles of Society, Paige, Citizens of Humanity, and more.
Motherhood Maternity also has the option to rent maternity clothing, making it possible to swap out sizes and styles as needed and at no extra cost.
Since Motherhood Maternity is a nationwide store, there are always sales, deals, and coupons to be found! Black Friday sales are a great time to stock up on needed maternity essentials. Motherhood Maternity also sells its line on Amazon.
PinkBlush maternity is a boho-chic brand and has dresses for all shapes, occasions, and sizes. So whether you’re planning a night on the town or a casual coffee date with a friend, they’ll have something that works!
In addition, they sell swimwear, jeans, sleepwear, delivery robes, and nursing bras and accessories. PinkBlush sells sizes from petite to tall to plus, so there is something for everyone!
Many of their pieces are what they call “Post-Bump Friendly,” meaning you can wear them after the baby arrives as well without looking like you’re wearing maternity clothes.
Isabella Oliver Maternity is groundbreaking for being one of the only sustainable maternity clothing lines available. In addition, it is the #1 maternity shop in the UK.
The brand uses sustainable and organic materials to create its chic looks, and their simple, casual designs will have you looking your best no matter the occasion. Isabella Oliver is the perfect shop to stock up on your essentials like jeans, leggings, and t-shirts.
Cake Maternity is a designer line of maternity clothing that primarily sells undergarments, swimwear, and sleepwear. Their products are priced higher than many other brands but are considered comfortable and well made.
They sell a wide range of bras, camis, and underwear for women of all shapes and sizes and have an entire line of products designed specifically for fuller-breasted women. In addition, they have an easy-to-use side guide that includes U.S., U.K., Australian, New Zealand, Canadian and European sizes. So, no matter where you are shopping from or what size maternity clothes you need, you are guaranteed to find the correct fit.
One of their adorable camis or sleep sets is the perfect choice to wear while pregnant and after the baby arrives as you snuggle together in a cozy spot like one of our Nurture& chairs.
Target sells just about everything a mom could need for house and home, and maternity clothing is no exception. Target has the exclusive rights to two maternity lines: Isabel Maternity and The Nines by Hatch.
They sell their adorable line of basics both in stores and online, although you’re likely to find a broader selection online. In addition, they sell both regular and plus-size maternity clothing. So if you’re creating a baby registry at Target, consider throwing on a few items for yourself, such as nursing camis, a cute graphic tee, or belly bands.
No matter how big or small you decide to make your maternity wardrobe, at some point, you will need to switch over to maternity clothes: this makes it important to have comfortable, quality clothing. A few good pairs of maternity jeans and leggings can go a long way and be paired with most things. Simple wrap dresses not only can grow with you, but are easy to dress up or down with accessories.
In addition, it is essential to have comfortable, supportive nursing bras and maternity underwear that match your growing bump. Maternity clothing has come a long way, and with so many incredible designers and brands available, you can stay true to yourself and your fashion style during your pregnancy!