There’s nothing quite like the excitement of shopping for those first few maternity clothes. It’s so fun to put on the pretend pillow belly at the maternity store, try on that large blouse and imagine what you’ll look like in just a few months.
But all fun aside, once you get down to the day-to-day business of wearing those new clothes, there are a few practical things you should know that will hopefully save you a few bucks and help you make the most of your maternity clothes budget. Here are 9 things I discovered about the world of maternity clothes during my first pregnancy that I think every new mom should know.
1. A rubber band can work wonders.
In those early days when maternity clothes look silly but your regular clothes (mostly pants and shorts) no longer fit, instead of buying a bunch of “in between” clothes in larger sizes, grab a rubber band. Simply loop it through the buttonhole of your pants, making a slipknot, and hook it over the button. Ta da! Instantly larger pants. (Just remember to wear a long shirt so you don’t reveal your clever trick to everyone else!)
There’s also a product you can buy – the Belly Belt – that is a piece of fabric (available in several colors) that hooks onto your pant button and increases the girth of your pants. Not a bad investment compared to buying all new clothes – but remember that a rubber band works almost as well and costs practically nothing.
2. Resist that early urge to buy tons of maternity clothes.
Don’t let the newfound excitement of your pregnancy blind you into purchasing a bunch of stuff you won’t ever wear. Instead, take a more measured approach, and buy items as you need them. I ended up with a number of things I never used because they were “cute” and found that many of my regular clothes worked just fine throughout my pregnancy.
3. You CAN find inexpensive maternity clothes that look good.
I promise. Sure, by shopping at those high-priced stores you can wear the same things Gwyneth Paltrow or Madonna wore during their pregnancies. But do you really need to look like a movie star? These stores can cost you a pretty penny for clothes you’ll only need for a period of months at most.
Instead, I found some great buys at a specialty maternity store in my local mall – clothes that were still cute (OK, not celebrity cute, but cute nonetheless) and very reasonably priced, especially during the store’s seasonal sales. Several discount stores now offer maternity sections as well, though I did not find their selections to be quite as fashionable.
Don’t forget to shop online, too. Sites such as OldNavy.com and Gap.com both offer stylish fashions at good prices.
4. You don’t need to buy maternity underwear.
I found that wearing my regular bikini briefs – a size larger during the last few months – under my belly worked just fine. However, if you’re more comfortable with the kind of underwear that goes up over your growing tummy, you’ll need to splurge for the maternity underwear. I, personally, found those to be uncomfortable, as the elastic was always too tight around the top of my belly.
5. Sweatshirts, long sweaters and large T-shirts work great.
I was truly surprised that I was able to wear some of my larger sweatshirts and T-shirts all throughout my pregnancy. Long sweaters also work well. I even have a photo of myself walking out the door on my way to the hospital in my college alumni sweatshirt! If you find yours are a little too tight, steal a couple from your hubby’s drawer.
6. You must have one pair each of khakis and denim shorts or pants.
Of course, you can’t get away with no maternity clothes at all, and two things that are absolutely essential for your casual wardrobe are a pair each of khaki and denim shorts or pants, depending on the season. These go a long way because you can wear anything with them, such as your sweatshirts and sweaters or those cute empire waist maternity tops you purchased. Plus, they look good and are inexpensive.
7. Buy or wear regular pants/pajamas that stretch or have a drawstring.
Along the same lines as wearing panties that rest under your belly are pajamas or sweat pants (or even yoga pants) that stretch or have a drawstring you can wear in the same manner. Instead of buying these in maternity sizes, buy a size or two larger then you normally wear (you may even be able to wear your regular size). Then just wear them with a long shirt that will cover up your bare tummy. They are really comfortable for just hanging out or even exercising.
8. All about bras.
All right. One of the many things besides your tummy that really grows during pregnancy is your breasts. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can no longer wear your regular bras and will need to buy a bigger size.
Do you really need a maternity bra? No. Just buy a larger size (let someone help you get the right fit) with more support than you usually wear. It’s also a good idea to get a bra that has a vertical line of several hooks in the back for added support.
Another money saver is a bra extender, which essentially hooks into the bra’s hooks, giving you another couple of inches. This really does add to the life of your bra because you’ll find your breasts and girth grow steadily bigger and bigger throughout your pregnancy.
If you plan to breastfeed, one specialty bra you will need is a nursing bra. You’ll actually need several of these unless you want to do laundry every day (because it will inevitably get soaked with milk either coming from you or Baby).
My favorite nursing bra came from a discount store and has a plastic fastener to allow you to open the bra for breastfeeding. Zippers also are easy to use. I don’t recommend bras with hooks, as they are not easy to undo with one hand. Nursing bras can be expensive, but shop your local discount store, which usually offers good products at reasonable prices.
9. Buy a pants suit or two for dressing up.
I picked two comfortable stretchy cotton pants suits (one long sleeved, one short sleeved), which served many purposes when I needed to dress up. These work great for work, parties, your baby shower, whatever – and they’re comfortable!
So now that your wardrobe for the next nine months is all set, it’s time to start working on Baby’s – and that’s even more fun (I promise)!