Pregnancy is a wonderful time, full of many not-so-wonderful things — morning sickness, an aching back, and nerves about becoming a mama are all totally normal (and totally not fun) parts of pregnancy. But one of the undeniable perks of expecting (even better than nightly foot massages from your partner) is the built-in excuse to revamp your whole wardrobe. Hello, maternity shopping!
If this is your first time expecting, you might be unsure when to start building your maternity wardrobe, how the sizing works, and if maternity clothes are even necessary in the first place. (Spoiler: they are.) Lucky for you, we have all the info you need to rock your pregnancy in style.
Keep reading for answers to all your questions about maternity fashion.
When Should I Buy Maternity Clothes?
The short answer to this question is: whenever the heck you want.
Most maternity brands offer fits designed for your first trimester all the way through postpartum. While you likely won’t need to accommodate your growing bump until the second or third trimester, every woman carries her pregnancy differently. You might find that your fave sports bra or yoga pants aren’t cutting it even just a few months into your pregnancy.
The key to successful maternity shopping is finding clothes that make you feel comfortable and happy. Whether that needs to happen one month into your pregnancy or eight is entirely up to you.
Experts say that most pregnant women gain between 25 and 35 pounds while growing a baby, and it’s normal for that extra weight to change the way you look and feel about yourself. Finding maternity clothes that flatter your new curves and are comfortable for your growing belly is an important (and fun!) part of pregnancy.
If you’ve been pregnant before, you probably have a good idea of when and how your body will start changing (although many women start showing earlier during their second pregnancy, thanks to stretched-out tummy muscles). However, pregnancy number two might not be like pregnancy number one — you might need to do some things differently.
If this is your first rodeo, expect to start developing a bump between 12 and 16 weeks into pregnancy, and your wardrobe needs to start changing around then as well.
Are Maternity Clothes Really Necessary?
You might be tempted to just suffer with ill-fitting clothes for a few months or stick to your usual clothes in a size or two up. But trust us, maternity clothes are a thing for a reason.
During pregnancy, proportions change in ways that pre-pregnancy regular clothes aren’t sized for. Your belly seems to take up the entire room, yet your thighs and calves might be the same size they’ve always been. If you simply size up your jeans, you could swimming in them.
Maternity clothes are designed with these proportion changes in mind. They ensure that your pregnancy fits are comfortable AND flattering.
And while mamas-to-be used to be stuck with tent-like dresses and unflattering maxi skirts, these days, pregnancy is ALL about style. From comfy maternity jeans in every cut to the perfect fall/winter maternity dress, you’ll have no shortage of flattering and comfy clothing options while preggo.
In fact, shopping for maternity clothes might be one of our favorite parts of pregnancy. After all, you’re doing the hard work of growing a new human – you deserve to have the wardrobe of your dreams!
How Does Maternity Sizing Work?
If this is your first time being pregnant, you might have some questions about maternity sizing. When some parts of your body size up and others remain exactly the same, how do you know what size you are?
Luckily, the answer is pretty simple – for the most part, the size you are right now is the same size you’ll be even nine months into pregnancy. Maternity styles are sized by trimester and designed to reflect pregnancy growth. So, if you’re usually a size six, you’ll probably be a size six in maternity clothes.
Of course, there are exceptions: Every woman carries her pregnancy in a 100% unique way, and you certainly might go up a size during pregnancy, even in maternity clothes. It’s most important to pay attention to how your body looks and feels rather than any preconceived notions you may have about pregnancy sizing.
Don’t Forget the Footwear
If shoes are a girl’s best friend, then that’s doubly true when she’s pregnant. Alongside morning sickness and your growing belly, swollen ankles and feet are one of the hallmarks of pregnancy.
During pregnancy, all of your ligaments and joints are relaxing and stretching out to prepare for giving birth, including ligaments in your feet. This can cause your arches to flatten and lead to pain after walking or standing for a long time.
Plus, thanks to your little one, moms-to-be have a higher blood volume, contributing to swollen ankles and feet. It’s not uncommon to go up a shoe size while preggo.
All of this is to say that during your nine months, comfortable and supportive shoes will save your life on a regular basis. Don’t invest in a whole new wardrobe just to skip out on possibly the most essential part — quality footwear.
How Can I Stay Comfortable While Pregnant?
All of this growing and stretching can make pregnancy pretty uncomfortable. Buttons popping off your pants and stretch marks popping up might drive you nuts, but there are a lot of steps you can take to take care of your physical and mental well-being.
Buying maternity clothes that actually fit is one step. Another is investing in the right self-care items, such as compression socks, to soothe your swollen calves and ankles. Or, try belly oil to smooth away any unwanted stretch marks or simply nourish your skin.
Once your belly starts taking up so much real estate it practically needs its own zip code, sleep can be elusive. Consider buying a pregnancy pillow to help you get comfortable at night. Or you might investigate pregnancy-safe sleeping aids or take up prenatal yoga (in your maternity leggings) to help you wind down.
Everything in your life might be gearing up to the due date on the fridge, but you still have needs, too. There’s no need for them to get thrown to the wayside in your preparation for a baby. Take care of yourself first.
Body Image During Pregnancy
It’s no secret that weight gain is a part of pregnancy. Gaining 30 pounds might be a totally healthy part of being pregnant, but in a world where celebrities practically race each other to bounce back after baby, it’s easy to find yourself struggling with the body image issues that can accompany it.
Trust us: We’ve all been there.
It can sometimes help to remember that the changes you’re experiencing are all a part of your body getting ready to have a baby. During pregnancy, your hormones are in overdrive, and this can cause a ton of unwanted side effects: mood swings, stretch marks, and hormonal acne. Combined with sudden weight gain, you might feel a tad out of control or not at all like yourself during pregnancy.
If this sounds familiar, know that you’re not alone and that there are steps you can take to improve your body image during pregnancy. Try expressing your feelings, whether with your partner, a friend, a therapist, or in a journal.
Regular prenatal exercise, such as walking or practicing prenatal yoga, is a great way to refocus on how your body feels and all the good it does for you rather than how it looks. Learning about pregnancy and all of the crazy and amazing ways your body is preparing for baby can help you appreciate your pregnancy shape rather than wishing for your pre-baby body.
And, of course, there’s always our favorite way to deal with problems: Finding clothes that flatter your new shape can work wonders for your sense of confidence and self-esteem and make a dedicated maternity wardrobe well worth the investment.
Don’t underestimate the power of a seriously stylish maternity jumpsuit to turn your whole mood around!
The Best Maternity Wear Is 100% You
Whether you start stocking your closet with maternity staples right away or wait until your jeans are about to pop off, finding maternity clothes that you like is an important (and fun) part of pregnancy. Being pregnant is a special experience like no other — and you deserve to look and feel your absolute best for it!