I love to plan ahead, so for years I had my goal of becoming a mama in the back of my mind no matter what I was up to, even when I went shopping. I remember thinking, “Oh, this will be great for when I’m pregnant too!”, silently patting myself on the back from taking such versatility and longevity into account when adding to my wardrobe.
The only problem? I had NO idea what I was talking about.
When you think pregnant you think belly – this dress could fit a basketball in it, so it must be pregnancy-friendly, right? Wrong. I like to think I was pretty educated and prepared going into my pregnancy, but the biggest knowledge gap I found was surrounding my body and all of the different, unexpected ways it would change shape. Everyone’s story is unique of course, but personally I found myself totally thrown, with no idea how to dress my newfound curves! Instead of carrying the cute belly I had expected while I was expecting, my hips and thighs grew too big for most of my pants and shorts just 2 months in, and my new curvier figure made half of those “pregnancy friendly” dresses I’d collected over the years way too short for public. My butt and my boobs were popping buttons long before a belly was! I went from having a whole closet full of clothing to a couple of pieces I could squeeze into within a matter of weeks.
It’s so easy with all things baby and pregnancy to over spend because everything is all so new – it’s like suddenly shopping exclusively in a marketplace that you’ve never even glanced at before. With time I’ve realized that shopping for pregnancy is actually a lot like shopping for a new baby, and I now have the same set of rules in place for both: splurge on a few key basics but otherwise don’t spend a lot, thrift or borrow when you can, and plan for more rapid growth than you think is possible! Even my arms felt thicker!
Mistakes were made and lessons learned, but I felt it was only right to share my “research findings” here for all those mama-to-be types out there!
Key Maternity Pieces //
- One good pair of great jeans with the elastic panels, NOT the belly cover. Everyone has a different preference on this but I found the elastic belt that goes over the belly kept sliding down all the time, and I actually ended up ripping two pairs of maternity jeans from pulling them up so often! My favourite were J Brand Maternity Jeans, and I rented (more on that below) a bunch of pairs in different washes before I bought my own so I definitely stand behind them! Sadly the pair I bought had a faulty elastic and had to be sent back – they would have been REALLY good to have postpartum when everything was shifting back into place and I deeply regret asking for a refund instead of a replacement pair. I’ve also heard great things about the HATCH x Current Elliot collab jeans and will definitely order a pair if I’m pregnant again one day!
- Some form of cute overalls/jumper/onesie. I lived in my Hatch chord overalls (similar ones here) and they fit all the way through my 9 months. I also had a cute pair from Pink Blush and at home I lived in my Smash Tess romper (a size small lasted me all the way through and it has also been amazing postpartum)
- Belly support leggings! I wish I had invested in a pair of these early on because they really helped me feel more comfortable in my day to day. I went for these leggings by Blanqi and my only tip would be hang dry them to avoid pilling! Mine snuck into the dryer one day and never quite got their original stretchy texture back. They also make shorts for summertime pregnancies.
- A nice maternity/nursing bra and underwear set. Go a bit bigger sizing-wise because if you choose to breast feed your boobs will swell larger than you ever imagined every morning after your milk comes in! I really love this set from Lonely Label – it was amazing for my maternity photoshoot and I love how the lace peeks out from lower cut dresses.
Tips and Tricks //
Aside from the above, you don’t really need to spend a bunch on maternity-specific pieces that might never be worn again.
- Rent and borrow what you can. I used Sprout Collection my entire pregnancy and it was a really great way to incorporate more fun, exciting maternity pieces into my wardrobe without breaking the bank.
- Opt for button down tops and dresses – they come in handy later if you’re nursing! I have SO many high-neck dresses that I can’t wear right now and it’s so hard to have so little I can wear in my closet. V-necks are also better than round, even with t-shirts, as it’s easier to pull a boob out the top then pull your shirt up from the bottom (tank top layering recommended for this route unless you want to be half naked in the coffee shop/grocery store/restaurant/park bench)
- Pay attention to seams. Just because something is empire waist, it doesn’t mean it will work – the larger hip and belly width means everything is going to get a LOT shorter even if it still theoretically fits. In general it’s best to go larger and longer. Wrap dresses were amazing as long as they were long enough to be tied above the belly… anything that cuts across the belly (ie. anything high waisted) is not going to work for very long. The more tent-like, the better.
- Leak-proof underwear went a long way for me (let’s just say I had a lot more dampness happening downstairs and normal underwear got uncomfortable quick!) I love Knix, forever and always. I also wore their super stretchy, comfortable bras all through pregnancy, and they work great for nursing too because you can easily just pull them down to free a boob.
Best Maternity Brands //
BOOB design – all their pieces are great for both pregnancy and nursing afterwards.
HATCH – the most stylish of maternity, I miss shopping their collection already.
Nom Maternity – lots of cute, simple pieces.
Hatch Mama – I swear by their belly oil!
Some Other Favourites (just because) //
Mothers are Magic t-shirt – I love me some cute mama stuff
Nursing tank top – the support section on this one really helped my belly feel supported post-birth as things shifted back into place