When to Buy Maternity Clothes: Tips for Dressing Your Bump

Wondering when to buy maternity clothes? Discover when I choose to make the jump to maternity wear plus some tips for getting fashionable clothes for less.

Maternity fashion show by Mama Natural

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.

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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?

Genevieve Howland

About the Author

Genevieve Howland is a childbirth educator and breastfeeding advocate. She is the bestselling author of The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth and creator of the Mama Natural Birth Course. A mother of three, graduate of the University of Colorado, and YouTuber with over 85,000,000 views, she helps mothers and moms-to-be lead healthier and more natural lives.

16 Comments

  1. I am pregnant with baby #1 and this was super helpful because jeans are starting to be ill fitting yet I’m only six weeks along. Should I start building my maternity wear now or wait a few weeks yet?

    • I’m in the same boat. Baby #1 at 9 weeks tomorrow but since I wear high waisted jeans and pants, they just are not comfortable any more and haven’t been since about 6-7 weeks! Especially getting shoved into an already slightly nauseous belly. Just bought a few maternity bottoms online so we’ll see if they fit. Such a weird experience though, never bought maternity clothes before! (Okay not true, I bought a maternity t shirt once on a sale rack by accident! 🙂 )

  2. This was very helpful, thank you!

  3. thank you so much it really helped me a lot I look forward to more information.

  4. good one

  5. It’s a very helpful and useful maternity fashion post.

  6. Great…

  7. I’m pregnant with #3 and just now found you which is crazy! Loving your blog, thanks so much. And I just ordered several dresses and a couple more shirts from Zulily this time around! I’m at 14 weeks and still feel small for my maternity clothes but definitely too big for my regular ones. It’s such an awkward stage! You are right, though, buying bigger clothes doesn’t really work. I’ve also found great things at Goodwill and Clothes Mentor, second had really is nice because then you can try things on and get an idea for what style maternity clothes you like without dropping $100 like at some maternity shops. Granted, they have adorable at maternity shops, too. Thanks for this post!

  8. Thanks for sharing such a use full information. it’s really helpful for everyone .being a working women style and the comfortable outfit is very important. thank you so much it really helped me a lot I look forward to more information.

  9. Hi Genevieve, You are looking cute in maternity dresses. I am 8 weeks today and just purchased my first maternity shirt my stomach is growing fast.

  10. Thanks a lot for sharing your experience during pregnancy this could help others to know what to wear and where to buy.

  11. Wonderful post and some great tips! I did the first thing you did the first time around and hid in over-sized clothing. I want to be the cute Pinterest mom who looks put together all the time and I think you did an excellent job on telling others how to get there! Great post!

  12. Thanks for sharing the Post! It’s really a very helpful Information, useful for all. I really appreciate your post. I Look forward to read more on this. Nice post. thanks once again for sharing.

  13. Pregnancy is beautiful and along with your changing body, everything else around you begins to change too. Your style is of crucial essence. When your body is changing, your style needs to adapt to it but it does not need to go silent. You can still steal the glamour with your baby bump with amazing maternity wears available in stores. You might wanna check out this website https://themommycollective.in/ They have beautiful collections

  14. I know this is an old video, but I’m 21 weeks pregnant now and looking through all your pregnancy videos (you look fantastic btw, the whole way through) but at this post I felt I had to leave a comment, and it is this; BellaBand!! I am still wearing my pre-pregnancy pants and it is all thanks to this genius invention. All it is is a spandex band that you wear over the waistband of you pre-pregnancy pants, unbuttoned. I found it looks best if you tuck the corners of your pants (the button and button hole parts) inside the pants before you put on the band. This leaves less bulk. So for all you soon-to-be mammas out there, be sure to check it out! It’s great if your not yet ready to spring for maternity wear or you just have that one favorite pair of jeans. Thanks for posting such great videos!!!

    • Thanks Meghan for sharing!!! Congrats on your pregnancy! Woo hoo!


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