Enjoy Your Pregnant Shape
• Are Maternity Clothes Necessary? When Do I Need Them?
| Maternity Belly Band
Return To Main Guide
|Are Maternity Clothes Necessary? When Do I Need Them?
Yes, maternity clothes really are necessary, unless you plan to live in over-sized t-shirts for a few months! Although you may not look pregnant until the middle of the second trimester, you'll probably start to have difficulties sitting down and tying your regular pants before this. Some women feel awkward about shopping for maternity wear before looking pregnant, but sometimes it is necessary. Wearing maternity pants after week 6 or 7 is not unusual, although it is more common after week 14. Remember, you will probably experience enough pregnancy symptoms without adding the stress of uncomfortable clothes, so don't be afraid to treat yourself. Alternatively, if you prefer to wait until the second trimester, experiment with pants that close with a draw string or try using a belly band. Bear in mind that maternity wear is not only useful during pregnancy but also for the months following birth when the body needs time to ease back to its former state. So those 6 months of wear could extend to 12 months.
You do not need to spend a fortune on maternity wear; Old Navy, JC Penney and Gap for example (as well as countless online websites) have a perfectly good range of clothes at affordable prices. Also, don't be shy of borrowing from friends who have clothes from their own pregnancies or even raid your partner’s wardrobe for some t-shirts for sleeping in. That said, there are some items of maternity wear which we consider worth investing in:
A belly or bump band (also called maternity sleeve) is a very useful piece of maternity wear. It is an elastic waistband which helps between those stages of pregnancy where regular clothes no longer fit, but maternity wear are still too big. They are useful in fact at most stages of pregnancy including after childbirth where you may still not be comfortable with exposing your tummy (the so called jelly belly!). Made of a stretch material, belly bands cover the gap between top-wear and bottoms and cover unattractive elastic waistbands and unbuttoned pants. Available in a range of colors including black, white, gray, brown and pink, some even come with lace. Average price is $15 to $20. Plus-sizes are also available.
Jeans are an important part of any maternity wardrobe, and they come in various shapes and sizes. The key decision you will need to make when it comes to maternity jeans is related to waistbands. The most popular type of waistband is the under bump style. This sits below a woman's expanding stomach, which means nothing is constricting the stomach. Particularly popular with first time mom's, the main disadvantage is that the stomach may be more exposed than you are comfortable with. This can be resolved with the use of a belly band. Also some women complain of discomfort in the belly area when they sit. The other alternative is an over bump style of waistband (see images). This sits higher on the waist, covering the stomach. Perhaps not as cute, but they do offer maximum coverage and comfort. Considering you may already be struggling with pregnancy symptoms such as morning sickness and tender breasts, anything that makes life easier has to be recommended.
In that period before maternity pants or jeans are absolutely necessary, a waistband expander is a particularly useful garment. A waistband expander allows a pregnant woman to continue wearing regular pants, skirts or jeans by allowing her to keep buttons opened, thus expanding the waist. One example is the B-Buckle, which is like an expanding belt (image). Average cost is $20 to $25. As soon as you find an expander is necessary, it may be worth reading about stretch marks.
These are gowns (image) which are worn during your prenatal visits while being examined by your pregnancy healthcare team. Available in lots of pretty colors, the advantage over hospital issued gowns is that fewer parts of the body are exposed. Snaps and flaps are placed in strategic areas, so that your OB/GYN can access the breasts for example without the necessity to flash all. Prices on average range from $30 to $50. Plus-sizes are also available.
A woman's breasts can change dramatically while breastfeeding. Cup size can increase or decrease by up to 2 sizes between feeds. Good maternity bras will accommodate these changes. Buy your nursing bra as near as possible to your due date or anytime from week 36 onwards. By then your breast size will have reached its maximum growth so what you buy will be a better fit. You may need 2 or 3 bras to cope with leaking. Women with smaller breasts may be tempted to get by with a sports bra, but these tend to reduce bounce movement, restricting milk supply. A soft bra, which can be pulled up for feeding, is a better compromise, as long as it is not the early days of nursing. However women with larger breasts should stick to the correct support in order to prevent sluggish milk drainage and infections. See pregnancy breast changes.
Pregnancy Sleep Bra
These are used to support the breasts at night time. They are different to nursing bras, in that they are woven into one seamless piece, so there are no annoying side seams to aggravate the skin. Also known as a crop top, they are usually made from soft micro fibers which allow growth as your pregnancy develops. They can also be worn by women outside of pregnancy who have a large chest size and would otherwise have difficulties sleeping if their breasts were not supported.
Specially designed for pregnant women, maternity panties are cut to fit both the back and front in a comfortable manner. They are a good option in the first few months after childbirth and delivery, before the body returns to normal. Regular panties in a larger size are not as comfortable as the elastic can still cut across the swollen tummy and the back can bunch causing a visible lumpy panty line. Maternity panties come in various sizes and shapes including brief, bikini, thongs and hipsters.
Generally speaking you should choose maternity wear based on your pre-pregnant size. Fortunately most maternity clothes are also marked according to pre-pregnancy size. Use this chart as a guide to maternity wear sizes:
Larger women, who were a size 24 or more before pregnancy, are less likely to need maternity clothes early in pregnancy as they tend not to gain much weight. Women sized between 16 and 22 are more likely to need maternity wear earlier as they can gain weight like an average sized woman. Body types can also make a difference. Apple body shapes (broad shoulders, narrow hips) tend to need maternity clothes sooner than pears (wide hips) or hourglass shapes (wide hips, large bust). So if you are a size 16 to 22, plan on buying a range of maternity wear. Those over size 24 will be able to combine maternity wear with regular clothes in larger sizes. Leggings, elastic waisted pants and sweats 1-2 sizes larger are particularly useful. For sleep wear, try men’s plus size t-shirts, which tend to be cut for extra belly space. In cold climates, a poncho or cape will work well as a coat. Good suppliers include motherhood.com, justmysize.com, decentexposures.com and pluswoman.com.
For more on experiencing a beautiful pregnancy, see:
Return to Homepage: Womens Health Advice