Maternity stores would like you to believe you need at least one of everything they sell, but that’s just not true. Here’s a seasoned mom’s list of what you really need to make it through nine months of pregnancy.
Maternity Clothes: What to Get & What to Skip
What to Get
I bought my belly band when I first got pregnant with G and it continues to be one of the best maternity purchases I’ve made. I first begin using it around 10 to 12 weeks when my pants will no longer button. The band sits around my waist and holds the pants up so I don’t have to worry about them falling down. When I transition to maternity pants, the band is helpful to hold them up when the built-in elastic is still a little loose.
Best of all, I wear the band for at least a few weeks- okay, fine, it’s more like a couple months- after baby arrives as I wait for my pre-pregnancy pants to fit again. These bands are miracle-working lifesavers. I can’t explain how much easier it makes the transition from regular pants to maternity pants and back again.
Mix and Match Pieces
Buying maternity clothes can be a fine line between trying to be frugal and wanting to look good at a time you often feel less-than-good. It’s so tempting to splurge on cute patterned pants or that wild top. I don’t have anything against pieces like that, and I even have a few in my own closet. When we’re talking maternity wear on a budget, though, it’s important to purchase every piece with the intention of wearing it with nearly every other piece you have.
If you buy patterned pants that really only look good with one top, you aren’t maximizing your money. Consider using your existing accessories, like brightly-colored scarves or funky jewelry, to liven up your maternity wardrobe.
Okay, first of all, when you’re pregnant, most anything is going to be “fitted”. Even so, there are still some dressy, flowing options available. I find I get much more use out of fitted tees than I do anything fancier, though. Even though I was working at a bank during my first two pregnancies, and I’ve been a teacher during my most recent two, I love that plain fitted tees can double as work wear and casual wear.
I can wear a tee like this, or this, or this, to work with a cardigan, a blazer, or just on its own and be perfectly in dress code (side note: I don’t think many bosses are going to question the hormonal pregnant lady if she happens to be pushing the dress code boundaries a little). I can wear the same tees with jeans and be casual. As someone who dresses up for work four out of seven days in a week, I appreciate clothes that pull double duty.
Something That Makes You Feel Good
Like I mentioned before, it can be so hard to feel attractive while you’re pregnant. Growing a human is tiring work, and you often feel like that fatigue is all that shows on your face. While you’re keeping track of your maternity wear budget, eek out a little cash for something that makes you feel good. It doesn’t have to be impractical; it can be a piece that you were planning to add to your wardrobe anyway. What’s important is that you buy it not just because you need it, but because it makes you feel damn good.
Unless you don’t swim, or your pregnancy falls not during any warm months, go ahead and invest in a swimsuit. Here’s the thing about being pregnant: you’d most likely prefer to skip being seen in a swimsuit, but you’re so hot all the time. The best way to give yourself the confidence to cool off in the water is to buy a bathing suit that was made for your new shape. Don’t settle for a T-shirt and shorts for this; take the plunge and buy a real swimsuit.
What to Skip
When I was pregnant with G, it was important to me to get the best value for my maternity clothes dollar. When I realized maternity underwear and bras were a real thing, I asked my mom if I really needed them. She assured me I’d be fine without them and, what do you know, I have been.
Fact: your boobs will grow during pregnancy. Maybe a little, maybe a lot, but don’t waste your money buying expensive maternity underthings. If you need a bigger size bra, buy the cheapest one you’ll be comfortable in. Better yet, if you’re planning to breastfeed, go ahead and buy nursing bras; you’ll definitely be able to fill those out once your milk comes in.
Sure, it’s nice to have pretty pajamas when you feel as big as a house. They’re far from a necessity, though. Instead of spending money on stuff to sleep in, I borrowed J’s big T-shirts and invested in a pair of yoga pants that I could also wear out of the house. If you do want a pair of pajama pants or sleep shorts, skip the pricey maternity options and just buy a larger size in the women’s section.
I’m still not sure how maternity cardigans are even a thing. If it’s really important to you that your cardigans button, I can see why buying a maternity version would matter, but I don’t think I know to whom that’s a big deal. And even if you do feel that way, I think you can make it through your pregnancy without a sweater that buttons in front, especially if it means saving money.
As far as regular pullover sweaters, I think those are unnecessary, too. If you’re anything like most pregnant women, those raging hormones are going to result in hot flashes. You’ll either be constantly putting on and removing the sweater, or you’ll decide it’s too much of a hassle and forego it altogether. Better to stick to your regular non-maternity cardigans, blazers, and hoodies instead.
I don’t think most women even wear pantyhose anymore. I know in the professional world they aren’t the necessity they used to be. With that being said, even if you occasionally wear them, you can totally get away without buying any during your pregnancy. They just aren’t needed, plus the fit is wonky. You won’t be comfortable in maternity pantyhose.
Anything That’s the Wrong Season
Before you make any maternity purchases, think long and hard about the seasons during which you’ll be pregnant. Then, think about what seasons will fall during which trimester. Don’t buy anything that you won’t get a chance to wear.
For example, you may think you need a warm maternity coat because you’ll be pregnant during winter. Before you buy one, though, think about just how pregnant you’ll be during those cold months. You’ll likely be able to wear your regular coat until well into your second trimester, maybe even up to 20 weeks. If the weather is going to warm up by them, skip that extra purchase.
Where to Buy
I bought the majority of my maternity clothes from Target and Old Navy. I like their selection and their prices, and I was very please with how the clothes held up. I skipped stores like Motherhood because I couldn’t justify paying so much for clothes I would only be wearing for a few months.
I also made some great secondhand purchases. ThredUp is one of my favorite websites for quality used clothing and they have a good-sized maternity selection. They carry stuff from Target and Old Navy as well as higher-end brands like The Gap, Motherhood, and LOFT. If you sign up for ThredUp through this link and get $20 off your first purchase.
What do you consider must-haves for maternity clothes? What items are overrated?
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