Many mamas fear jumping into the maternity wear too soon (am I really showing yet? Will I look weird?) But what I found was that finding clothes that fit is essential to looking and feeling your best during pregnancy.

When to buy maternity clothes: First trimester bridging the gap

A good strategy for maternity wardrobe building is to take inventory of the things in your closet that you may be able to wear as your belly grows. Stretchy material like yoga pants and casual skirts are a good start but the lower the rise the better. Many women hate the feeling of anything on their stomach as it grows and may become tender. Look at empire waist dresses and shirts that may be able to accommodate a growing bump for a few weeks. Fold over yoga pants, long tank tops, wrap dresses, leggings, and tunics are all possibilities for early maternity wear.

When you can no longer button your jeans you can grab a belly band. These stretchy bands are like a spandex belt that can keep your pants up while unbuttoned. Another great use for them is postpartum when your maternity clothes don’t fit anymore but your regular clothes are still too small or uncomfortable.

You may get away with buying a size up in lounge clothes and legging but with most clothing styles a size or two larger will just make you look like you’re swimming in your clothes!

When to buy maternity clothes? Now!

Even though it may seem too early, chances are it’s not. Maternity clothes are meant to fit from the time your regular clothes don’t anymore straight through delivery (and postpartum).

Most women need maternity clothes around 3-4 months but go by how your regular clothes are fitting. If you wear lower rise pants you may be able to hold out longer than someone who wears a higher rise. Also, keep in mind that in 2nd and subsequent pregnancies you are likely to get bigger sooner than in your first pregnancy.

That being said, it’s a good idea to shop for maternity clothes as soon as you can because you are less likely to get stuck buying something that is expensive or ugly (or both) simply because you need something to wear.

Fun maternity fashion video

Tips for finding fashionable maternity clothes inexpensively

There is a lot of really cute and flattering maternity wear available for expectant mamas, a far cry from what some of our moms had to wear! Here are some tips for saving some cash while building a fashionable maternity wardrobe.

Borrow from a friend – If you have a friend or relative that is around your size you may be able to borrow many or all of the maternity clothes you need. Maternity clothes are a bit more forgiving so even if you don’t wear the exact same pants size you may both where a size M, for example.

Buy used – Used maternity clothes are usually in good condition (since they’re only worn for a few months at a time) and because women give away maternity clothes more frequently than regular clothes, they are more likely to still be in style. Many children’s consignment stores also sell maternity clothes. You can also check out sites like swap.com.

Ebay – You can often find “lots” of maternity clothes at online auction sites like Ebay. These lots will be sold at one price for the entire lot. The seller will usually take pictures of many of the items, though not necessarily all of them. Even if you only like 80% of the maternity clothes in a lot you’re still likely to get a great deal.

Old Navy -You can get some great maternity clothes cheap if you look at Old Navy. You will likely need to buy them online but maternity clothes are easy to size (just get your regular size in S, M, L etc.) and usually fit a variety of body types well.

Motherhood Maternity – Though a little more expensive than Old Navy, Motherhood Maternity carries maternity clothes in store as well as online, so you can try them on before buying if you’d prefer. You can get great deals during their sales too.

Invest in some higher quality clothes

If you think you will have more children you may want to invest in a few higher quality maternity outfits, particularly dresses, which can be dressed up or down and made warmer with a sweater and leggings. After getting two or more maternity seasons out of the clothes you may save more than if you bought cheaper clothes that only lasted a few months.

Also, you can look into buying a few convertible pieces that can be used during pregnancy, nursing, and beyond. The Hipknoties is a one size fits all piece of clothing that can be worn in 30 different ways from tank top to maxi dress. You can also find many maternity tops that double as nursing tops which can extend their use for years!

How about you?

When did you make the jump to maternity clothes?