Navigating through the world of maternity clothes has been a difficult journey. I wish that I could say that I have enjoyed buying new clothes and discovering new styles...but I can't. I have gotten discouraged, emotionally wreaked, and made many returns. I hate to spend more money then I need to and this is one situation in which I hate spending money and not being completely happy with what I have bought. On top of the expense, I have never been pregnant before so picking the right clothing has been full of trial and error. Here are some things that I have learned along the way...I hope they help you out too.
Note: When shopping for clothes learned maternity clothing stores have special pillows in them so that you can see what the clothing is going to look like when you are bigger, be sure to give these a try, it is fun to see what you are going to look like when you are bigger but it can also save you some money if there isn't enough room in the out fit you are trying on.
There are three kinds pants that I have found. Each one has it's up side and each has a down side.
1) Elastic in the Waist Band to extend them: This was the first type of pant that I bought. They fit below the waist and at the time (week 8) they were very comfortable. As I grew bigger I noticed that they made the baby belly look rather awkward and because I am carrying low by week 16 they were uncomfortable and cutting me off at the waist. This sent me on the hunt for new pants. They were great for the transition but not so great once my belly came in. They were great after my C-section when the all spandex topped pants were too big and my pre-maternity pants were too small.
2) The Belly Band with your Non-Maternity Pants: This is a spandex band that you up on over the top of your non-maternity pants. You can leave the the button undone or even the zipper. The band smooths out the button and zipper so that no one knows that they are undone and your pants are held up. The cost on these is about the same as you would pay for a pair of maternity pants ($16-20). The upside to the cost is that you can use them with almost all your regular pants. I personally don't like the belly band. I don't like the way it feels on my stomach and it is hot and itchy. However, if you are on a budget and can't afford to buy a lot of maternity clothes, this may be a great option to buy you more time and keep using the clothes you already have. It was also helpful to have these when I was recovering after the baby arrived.
3) Cotton Waist Band with Elastic and a Draw String: This is my favorite kind of pants but they are very hard to find especially in jeans. These pants resemble the "Granny Pants" you see in the petites section. They fit under the belly and not only have the elastic to gently hold them up but also a draw string. Although I find these to be the most comfortable the bigger the belly gets the harder it is to keep the pants up. The belly just pushes the pant down. I prefer this type of pants to the belly band type (talked about below) and would rather pull my pants up all day verse having the band on my belly.
4) Spandex Band that Covers the Belly: These pants were very intimidating to me in the very beginning. They are still my least favorite type of pants. These pants have an elastic belly band that completely covers your stomach. Since I didn't like the pressure of the belly band with my non-maternity pants, I really didn't like these pants. In the third trimester had to suck it up and wear these because my options will be very limited. They tended to slip down and have to be pulled up often. As soon as the baby arrived they didn't fit anymore.
5) Maternity Overalls: This is my favorite option!!! They are very comfortable, they have plenty of room, and they do not put any pressure on my belly. Unfortunately, they are not the most stylish and they are not very nice. I am also looking forward to having these around after the baby is born because I will not want any pressure on my stomach after the birth. Note: I was able to find Maternity Overalls at Walmarts online store for $10 each. Shipping was only $2.95. This was a great bargain and the best deal I have found one maternity clothes!!!
6) A Note Anout Maternity Jeans: The hardest piece of maternity clothing for me find has been maternity jeans. A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine from church gave me a bag of maternity clothes and in that bag were two pairs of jeans. At first I was apprehensive but soon found that this bag of clothes was a great gift! What I discovered was Old Navy Maternity Jeans!!! The Full Panel jeans cover your belly but are made from a soft cotton Jersey material that I find to be very comfortable and not as restrictive as the spandex belly covers. You can also order these jeans in short or long at their online store. The best part is that they are reasonably priced at $34.95, with a purchase of $50 you get free shipping. Personally, a good pair of jeans can go a long way and if you are on a budget and have a lifestyle that allows you to wear jeans regularly investing a couple of pairs is very worth it!!!
Bras or Over the Shoulder Boulder Holders
For me my breast were the first thing to change. Within the first month of being pregnant my breast grew a cup size and remained painful and sensitive until week 13-14. In week 17-18 they became sensitive again and become even more swollen. I am not looking forward to the change in my breasts in the third trimester although my husband is rather excited about the changes.
Note of Caution: Whichever bra choice you choose, make sure that it is providing you with adequate support. The less movement your sore breasts get the less they will hurt. Make sure that the bra you get is not too confining though.
1) Regular Bra just a size bigger: This was a comfortable solution for me in terms of out of the house wear during the first trimester and I continues to wear these larger sizes through the rest of my pregnancy. I did not buy super expensive bras but looked for the ones that provided the best support. The downside to this is that if your breast grow again you may not be able to use these for long.
2) Wireless: This was a hard adjustment for me but it was a source of relief for me in my first trimester and every time there after when my breast began to grow again. I never felt comfortable wearing this type of bra out of the house but I did change into one of these as soon as I got home. This type of bra didn't provide the type of look that I prefer in my bras which was part of my uncertainty in public. To me they were worth the cost for the relief they provided at home and they were comfortable enough to sleep in, which also helped to ease the discomfort. In my second trimester I found a wonderful wireless bra at Soma Intimates. It is flexible enough to double a nursing bra when the time comes (although they are not advertised for that purpose). You can also buy inserts called Comfy Cups to put into your wireless bra if it is not padded to give you a bit more modesty.
3) Nursing Bra: In my first trimester I was not ready to buy a nursing bra. This felt like I was jumping the gun a little bit, but I did change my mind about this toward the end of the second trimester. I only bought one to start just in case my breast size changed again in the third trimester. These bras come with a clip at the top of the strap so that when you are nursing baby it is "easy access". They also have a pocket for the nursing pads that you will need when you are nursing. It is very important to get a quality nursing bra. Your breast will be heavier because they are holding milk, this added weight can give gravity help in pulling your girls down. At the store that I buy my bras regularly Soma Intimates, I found a great nursing bra. They have a both an underwire and wireless nursing bra. Not all locations carry the nursing bra but you can order online.
4) Sports Bra: I already owned a few of these because I work out but I found that some days when I was very uncomfortable that they were too tight. The only one that really worked well is the one that was adjustable straps and back. This gave me the most flexibility and comfort. They offer great support but are not good for everyday, all day use. I think these worked the best for sleeping.
I was told by a friend at church that I should not open maternity underwear in the store. That I should take them home and open them when I was in a good mood and feeling strong. Her experience with maternity underwear must have been very different then mine. I broke down and bought maternity underwear on the same day I found myself in the Macy's dressing room crying. I picked my favorite style of underwear and bit the bullet. I took my friends advice and opened the underwear in the privacy of my bedroom while my husband watched...the package said they were going to give me added support during pregnancy and after birth. This encouraged me...until I opend the package....They looked exactly the same as my regular underwear...held up against my current underwear they were the exact same size and cut...the only difference...I paid twice as much for them!!! I took them back the next day for a full refund!!!
I went back to the Internet to see what others had to say about maternity underwear. One site that I found (which I can't find now) mentioned that you should just buy bargain brand underwear at Target or Walmart but buy a size bigger and a style such as bikini or briefs (I like the hipsters personally) which give you more coverage. Not only is this a cheaper solution to the need for more comfortable underwear but they are a much more practical way to approach the need for new undies...You aren't going to feel so bad throwing or giving them away when you are back to your smaller size. Note: make sure that you buy 100% cotton. This is important because you need the right ventilation in your lady parts especially considering the increased moisture in the area.
Shirts and Tops
1) T-Shirts: I had always thought that if I purchased a larger version of a regular shirt that it would work just fine and I wouldn't need to buy "maternity" shirts....boy was I wrong. I also read that you could barrow clothes from friends or family that were larger than you and even shirts from your husband....Since I am petite to begin with I ran into the same problems with that were too big before I was pregnant and my husband although 8 inches taller than I am is a skinny guy. Larger shirts may have given me the room for my belly but when I lifted my arms you could see through the sleeve to get a great view of my bra! The upside with maternity t-shirts is the room is there where I need it but it fits where I need it to fit! You can find maternity t-shirts rather cheaply at places like Target and Walmart. They also have sales on them at Macy's and Motherhood Maternity.
2) Tops: There are several different types of tops that you can buy. There are tops that hug your body and show off the belly, there are tops that act like tents that hide the belly, and there are peasant style tops that tie in the back which fit loosely over the belly but still show it off too. This is completely a personal preference. When my belly wasn't looking like a baby belly just yet I was all about the tent style tops. I have never been into wearing skin hugging clothes but that doesn't mean you can't wear them. Now that everyone can tell I am pregnant I prefer the peasant style tops which just feel the most comfortable to me.
So What Does It Matter What I Wear...?
I personally feel that it is very important for a woman to feel confident and beautiful as much as possible. When you feel good in your skin and you like the way you look, you will approach the world with confidence and a positive attitude. When you are pregnant there are plenty of things to feel uncertain about. When you feel good about how you look on the outside it is easier to approach the world, regardless of how your insides may be feeling. Do what you need to so that you can feel confident and strong as a woman.
The Best Places to Buy Maternity Clothes
Macy's, Babies R'Us, and Target all had great return policies. Macy's carries the fashionable maternity clothes and you can return them at any time. Babies R' Us and Target have 90 day return policies.