Maternity Wear 101
Do I really need maternity wear?
Some first time moms are able to wear a lot of their regular clothes with the help of normal wear fixes such as belly bands and maternity belt extenders. Often loose fitting items and some dresses can be worn during pregnancy.
Other moms find it harder to put together a pregnancy look that they feel confident in and they might find their non-maternity wear items do not offer them options to still look and feel good during pregnancy.
Ultimately, your deciding factors are your comfort and preference. If you stare at your closet for what seems like hours and you still end up looking disjointed and feeling uncomfortable, then it might be a wise decision to invest into some maternity wear items. A couple of key items will enable you to mix and match what normal clothes you can still wear during pregnancy to give you a great look and provide you with comfort. It should enable you to focus on your most important task of growing a tiny human inside of you.
Do remember though that wearing tight clothing during pregnancy is generally not recommended as it may cause discomfort for mom, create pain for baby or suppress blood flow which is super essential for the health of both mom and baby.
Ultimately, if you feel physically uncomfortable wearing what you have, if your clothes feel too tight or if your day to day options are becoming limited, then it may be time to shop for some maternity clothes.
Should I buy Maternity Clothes or just bigger sizes?
Think of it like this. Larger sizes or even plus size clothing is just a size up from your normal clothing. A larger size takes into account that everything is as normal, just a little bigger everywhere.
When you are pregnant this is not the case. Yes, your breasts may become larger and your belly too, but the rest of you stays mostly the same.
Clothing items in a size larger doesn’t take into account that your baby bump will still be larger in proportion to the rest of your body. Thus the fit will most likely not be flattering at all and you will still end up looking and feeling as uncomfortable as before.
Maternity wear has stretch and fit in all the right places whilst understanding that your body will grow and change over time. It is designed to give comfort first and foremost and promote health for mom and baby throughout pregnancy.
When to buy Maternity Clothes?
No two bodies experience pregnancy in just the same way. So the short story means that it is up to you, let your comfort level be your guide. Most moms start to show visibly at around 20 weeks, but you may feel noticeable long before that. When you start showing depends on your age, height, body type, weight gain and previous pregnancies. Typically first pregnancies show much later than later pregnancies where it seems visible from nearly the start.
So the short story means that it is up to your comfort and if you are possibly planning on future pregnancies; let your comfort level be your guide.
Here are some indicators that it might be time to invest into your comfort:
- You need to unbutton your pants to make room for your emerging baby bump
- There doesn’t seem to be enough stretchy items in your closet that complements your baby bump just right
- Your normal clothes fit uncomfortably tight and you look and feel disjointed and uncomfortable
- Your shirts are riding up on your bump and don’t reach your bottoms anymore and they seem to peek out from underneath
What if I am not yet sure what to get?
There are a couple of maternity “hacks” that you can try. Ultimately they will hold well during the beginning stages of pregnancy and may not work toward the end, but again, this all depends on how your unique body adapts to pregnancy.
Here are 2 pregnancy wear “hacks” you could try to simply bridge the timing:
- Fasten your bottoms with a hair band. Insert a fabric piece to ensure that you are not flashing anyone with your Sunday Best undies.
- Cover bottoms with an old oversized boob tube or Belly Band.
How do I buy Maternity Wear? What do I need to look out for in pregnancy clothes?
As you shop around and look at various options on maternity clothing, remember these top tips to make the most of your budget. If you purchase clever now these garments could last you well beyond this pregnancy.
- Look for stretch in the fabric/material because your baby bump growth is unpredictable and might even surprise you. You want the item to last for the entire duration of your pregnancy.
- Test the motion of the garment for sheerness. You know how you bend over and you can see someone’s undies through leggings? So test the garments by sitting, walking and bending and see how it behaves in motion. Beware of clothing that is too sheer when stretched as this also speaks to the life and quality of the fabric and how it will age with laundering.
- Look out for ruching, that is the bunching of fabric with an elastic on the sides of the garment. This ruching flatters any figure and expands with your shape all through pregnancy.
- Think life expectancy of the item. Will you be able to wear it for future pregnancies or even wear it post pregnancy? Does the item offer breastfeeding capabilities?
- Look for items that will complement your existing wardrobe and extend the life of what you currently own to simply enhance it. That might mean some pants so that you have something to wear to work or some dresses for summer heat.
- Comfort is your ultimate guide. Maternity wear needs to be comfortable and enable you to go about your day without tugging or fidgeting with your clothes or feeling trapped by it.
- Choose quality fabrics that will last through the pregnancy without it looking like it had a hard life when you only wore it a couple of times. Quality fabrics will keep you warm when you need it to or allow cool air to breathe in the heat of summer.
- If you are planning on breastfeeding, it is worth investing into items that are not only functional, but make you feel beautiful and comfortable whilst nursing baby.
- Ensure that it fits your natural style and that you don’t buy something for the idea of what you saw someone else looking like. Style is a personal choice and any purchase, maternity wear or normal clothing, will sit in your closet unworn if it isn’t something you love. Besides, if it complements your style it will extend your wardrobe, not inhibit it. What we are saying is don’t buy bows and ribbons if that is not who you are.
- On style, buy items that can be repurposed e.g. adding boots and a jacket to a trendy maternity dress in winter or perhaps flops to pants for a casual look on weekends.
- Whilst we are all about being able to use it over and over, some occasions do call for an extra special maternity wear splurge to make you feel gorgeous. Occasions like baby showers, maternity shoots, end of year functions, formal occasions and weddings are all worth the splurge. If you feel uncomfortable, chances are your occasion will be affected by your mood which is affected by what you wear. So if you need to splurge, make sure the reason is pretty darn good.
- Don’t buy something you will only wear once. We think it needs to be practical e.g. a jumpsuit that needs to be removed over bump and all every time you need to use the bathroom isn’t practical. Or buying a nursing item that you need to get nearly naked just in order to nurse baby, not just the bits you need. Justsaying…
How do I know my maternity wear size?
If it is your first pregnancy, it might be more difficult than subsequent pregnancies to figure out just how your body will be changing. Remember, each body is unique and no two pregnancies are alike. With that in mind, most first timers show around 20 weeks and if you have been pregnant before it might be as early as 10 weeks.
In saying that, pregnancy wear should move with how your body may change and garment designs and fabrics take into account that parts of your body may change at different rates.
So generally speaking you would be the same size as you were before pregnancy unless you are expanding at a larger rate or if you are carrying multiples.
Many women may go up many bra cup sizes without a bump even being visible. Ultimately buy whatever makes you feel comfortable. Use maternity wear size guides as a guide and listen to your body and how it has changed to make a decision based on your unique circumstances.
What items do you really need?
This depends on a couple of factors. Consider the season you are due and how your body has been adapting to pregnancy. Also have a critical look at your cupboard to see what you can still use and where you will fall short.
A couple of staples is a good place to start and will take you far.
How much you invest depends on what you have and what you need to be able to enhance your wardrobe.
It all depends on your need, but here are a couple of suggestions:
- If you need to be dressed up for work, consider buying in about 2 sets of pants that you can pair with a mix of what you have in your cupboard and new purchases to stretch your current wardrobe
- If you don’t own a couple of longer shirts or own any that will stretch over the bump, then perhaps consider buying 3-5 items with colours and styles that complement your existing wardrobe and where you will wear it most.
- If you don’t have dresses that will go the extra mile, it might be a good idea to invest into 2-3 versatile dresses that can be dressed up or down, for work and play.
- Depending on what you have planned you might want something special. It might be a maternity photoshoot or your baby shower or perhaps a wedding that you need to attend and you may want something a little fancier or something a little extra special to make it a memorable occasion.
- Don’t forget underwear. Your breasts are going throughs lot of change. Ensure that your underwear supports you all through your pregnancy. If you are planning un breastfeeding baby, invest into some maternity bra’s that will be an overall investment into your breastfeeding journey. 3-4 bra’s might make all the difference you need to be more comfortable.