Maternity Wear: The Ultimate Buying Guide

During pregnancy, as the body undergoes significant changes to accommodate a new life, so does a woman’s wardrobe.

This comprehensive guide covers everything about maternity wear, from its evolution and maternity clothes essentials to insights on how and where to buy, ensuring you stay stylish, comfortable, and confident throughout your journey.

Maternity Wear

What is Maternity clothing?

Maternity wear is clothing specially designed for pregnant women to accommodate their changing body shape and provide comfort.

pregnant women wearing maternity dress

Pregnancy causes significant changes in the body - The belly grows, breasts enlarge, and weight increases. As a result, regular clothes, or pre-pregnancy clothes might not fit or feel comfortable anymore.

Maternity wear is designed to accommodate changes in the body during pregnancy.

On the other hand, Maternity clothes are made with soft, breathable and stretchy fabrics that accommodate a growing belly, breasts, and hips. They are supportive, comfortable, adaptable and functional.

History of Maternity Wear

The Baroque period (roughly around 1600- 1700), the first recorded maternity gown called the ‘Adrienne’ came which featured lots of voluminous folds to cover the pregnant belly. And later a bib around the bust was added to make it nursing friendly.

Portrait of lady in frilly maternity dress

The evolution of maternity wear represents the changes in culture and social values on pregnancy. Before the 20th century, women used to hide their pregnancy.

In the 20th century, pregnant women began to proudly showcase their growing belly.

Influenced by celebrities, maternity fashion gained popularity.

celebrity maternity photoshoot

Explore the best of celebrity maternity style in our detailed post

With rising demand, popularity, and availability, maternity brands began investing in stylish and practical maternity clothes.

Today, a huge range of functional maternity clothes are available, so expectant mothers don't have to compromise on style or comfort.

Are maternity clothes necessary?

Maternity wear are not necessary, but they can certainly provide comfort and support to pregnant moms during pregnancy.

Three pregnant women wearing pregnancy clothes

Maternity wear are designed to accommodate a growing belly and changing body shape and can help alleviate discomfort and provide support.

They are also functional, with easy nursing access for breastfeeding.

Buying maternity clothes or not is a personal decision.

Remember, though, that wearing tight-fitting clothing is not recommended during pregnancy. It can cause pain and discomfort, which is unsuitable for the mom and her baby.

What are the features of maternity clothes?

Maternity clothes are thoughtfully designed for pregnant women to adapt to their changing body shape. They typically have features such as soft natural fabric, stretchy over-belly waistbands, hidden zippers, and adjustable closures.

1. Maternity Lingerie

pregnant women wearing Maternity Lingerie

It includes bras & underwear. Maternity bras have wide straps, wireless style, and stretchy cotton fabric. Learn more on why every pregnant woman needs a maternity bra.

Maternity underwear has an over-belly band to distribute weight and support a growing belly bump.

2. Maternity Bottom Wear

Three pregnant women talking after their workout

It includes maternity pants, jeans, leggings and skirts. Maternity pants often have 4-way stretchy waistbands that can sit under or over the belly and support your lower back. It will expand with you throughout the pregnancy dig-in or extra pressure.

3. Maternity Tops, Kurtas and Dresses

pregnant women sitting comfortably

They are designed with extra fabric or ruching to accommodate a growing belly and typically have easy access to breasts for breastfeeding post-delivery.

Maternity clothes are designed to hug your new curves and provide comfort, support, style, and flexibility.

Maternity Clothes and Regular Clothes

What is the difference between regular and maternity clothes?

Maternity clothes differ from regular clothes in both design and purpose.

Maternity clothes are tailored for pregnant women, accommodating the body's changing shape and the growing belly. The materials used in maternity wear often have some elasticity for comfort and expandability.

Research shows that pregnant women find maternity clothes comfy, trendy, and confidence-boosting.

Maternity tops typically have extra fabric through specialized sewing methods and may include concealed zippers for easy breastfeeding. Conversely, the maternity bottom wear often features a belly band for added support and comfort.

Here are some of the key differences between maternity clothes and regular clothes:

1. Stretchy and breathable fabric

soft fabric for maternity wear 

Maternity wear, made from natural fabric with added stretch, while regular clothes use all sorts of fabric, from natural to synthetic and may have less stretch.

2. Belly band

stretchy belly band

Maternity bottoms feature a 4-way stretchy band for belly support and coverage, unlike regular pants which can pressure the pregnant belly.

3. Sewing technique

A-line maternity dress

Maternity wear use different sewing techniques than regular clothes. Ruching, Smocking, Godet, Placket, etc., create comfortable and functional pregnancy clothing that can adapt to a pregnant woman's changing body throughout the pregnancy.

4. Nursing access

A-line maternity dress

Unlike regular clothes, Maternity clothes offer easy nursing access for discrete breastfeeding post-delivery.

Overall, maternity clothes provide comfort and support to the pregnant mom, while regular clothes are not designed for changing body size.

Can I Buy Regular Clothes in bigger Sizes?

Buying regular clothes in a bigger size could be an easy and cost-effective solution. But, they will not provide the same comfort, support, and flexibility as maternity wear. Also, you'll only end up with ill-fitting and baggy clothes that are uncomfortable and unsupportive.

The importance of maternity wear for expecting mothers

Maternity wear are made for pregnant women to feel good, comfortable and confident. They are designed to adjust to your changing pregnant body, fits well, and let you move around without putting any pressure.

pregnant women talking to each other

Aside from offering comfort, maternity clothes let pregnant women express their personal styles, participate in daily activities, and feel confident and beautiful.

The importance of maternity wear lies in its flexible and functional design.

Why Should You Buy Maternity Clothes?

Maternity clothes give comfort to pregnant women, ensure safety by avoiding tight fits, and boost confidence in one's changing body. They're also versatile, suitable for both during and post-pregnancy.

Clothes for pregnancy are essential for expectant mothers for several reasons:

  • Comfort: Maternity wear are specially designed to adapt to your changing body and keep you comfortable and stylish throughout the pregnancy.
  • Health: As per many researches, wearing tight or restrictive clothing during pregnancy can be uncomfortable and harmful. Maternity wear allow freedom of movement without putting extra pressure on your tender belly and also regulate body temperature.
  • Confidence: During pregnancy, many women struggle with their changing body size. Maternity clothes are designed to fit and flatter the pregnant body and create a positive body image and a sense of maternity.
  • Functional/Versatile: Pregnancy clothes are no longer for 3-4 months. Much research has been done to make adaptable and functional clothes for women to wear during pregnancy and even post-pregnancy. These clothes can adapt to your changing body shape during and after pregnancy and have nursing-friendly access, like hidden zippers, for easy breastfeeding access.

Maternity clothes are comfortable, stylish, and functional. They can make the transition to motherhood a little easier.

Related Post: 7 Things You Need to Know Before Buying Maternity Clothes

Essentials of Maternity Clothing

Opting for a capsule wardrobe during pregnancy is a smart and efficient choice.

It enables expectant mothers to have a curated selection of versatile, complementary clothing essentials that can be mixed and matched to create a variety of different looks from a small selection of clothes.

Capsule wardrobe simplifies dressing decisions and you're focusing on investing in high-quality essentials.

What maternity clothes do I need?

During pregnancy, when your body goes through continuous changes, it's best to start with a few essential maternity clothing pieces that you can mix and match and add more items as required.

Based on feedback from over 300 pregnant moms, essential pieces of maternity wear include-

  1. Maternity Undergarments- Bras and Underwear
  2. Maternity Leggings or Jeggings (stretchy jeans)
  3. Basic T-shirt in neutral colours like black, white, and grey
  4. Top, Shirt or Kurta.
  5. A couple of maternity dresses or maternity kurta set.
  6. Maternity Loungewear or maternity activewear.
  7. Poncho, Scarf, Jacket or Sweater - for layering.

You can select the above clothing items based on your lifestyle, budget, style, and weather.

Related Post: what to wear during pregnancy

Different Types of Maternity Clothes

1. Maternity Dresses & Gowns

maternity dresses

Available in a variety styles from casual wear to party wear to photoshoot gowns and baby shower dresses. Explore our article on The Best Maternity Dresses for All Stages of Pregnancy for more detailed recommendations.

2. Maternity Bottom Wear

maternity bottom wear

Featuring under-the-bump and over-the-bump waistbands, and stretchy fabrics. It includes trousers, pants, shorts, leggings, jeggings, and other styles.

Considering purchasing maternity pants? Dive into our detailed maternity pants buying guide for insights. And if leggings or jeggings are on your list, our maternity leggings guide has got you covered.

3. Maternity Tops & Blouses

maternity tops

Ranging from casual tees to formal tops.

4. Maternity Indian Ethnic Wear

Maternity Indian Ethnic Wear

It includes a range of traditional outfits such as Kurtas, Kurtis, Salwar Suits, Shararas and Sarees.

5. Maternity Lingerie

Maternity Lingerie

Essential for providing necessary support to the belly, back and breasts.

6. Maternity Loungewear & Nightwear

Maternity Loungewear

Comfort-focused outfit to relax and sleep in.

7. Maternity Activewear & Yogawear

Maternity Yogawear

To ensure flexibility and support during workouts and yoga sessions.

8. Outerwear & Layering Options

Maternity Winter Wear

Ranging from poncho, sweatshirts, blazers and coats.

Maternity Clothes Shopping

When to start wearing maternity clothes?

The best time to start wearing maternity clothes is when your regular clothes or pre-pregnancy clothes start to feel tight and uncomfortable. It’s typically around the second trimester (13-14 weeks).

Pregnant women wearing pre-pregnancy clothes

However, every pregnancy is unique, so it's essential to prioritize comfort and adjust based on individual needs. Read more about signs to know when to buy maternity wear.

What size to buy for maternity clothes?

Wearing the right fit during pregnancy ensures optimal comfort for the mother and avoids undue pressure on the growing belly. Properly fitted clothes also support good posture and circulation, essential for both maternal health and fetal development. It also boosts confidence.

how to measure for clothes during pregnancy

Typically, your maternity size matches your pre-pregnancy size. For instance, if you wore a medium before pregnancy, a medium maternity size would fit. However, depending on the brand and your pregnancy shape, you might occasionally need a size up or down.

Maternity brands use pre-pregnancy sizes to simplify the buying process for users.

Read more on how to choose maternity clothes sizes

Which fabrics are best or worst for maternity wear during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, it's advisable to choose soft, breathable, natural fabrics like cotton and bamboo, with some stretch to adapt to your growing body. Conversely, avoid synthetic materials like polyester, which can trap heat and moisture, leading to discomfort and potential rashes.

How to Save Money on Maternity Clothes

To save money on maternity clothes, invest in versatile basics that can be mixed and matched for multiple outfits.

Opt for stretchy, adjustable designs that can grow with you throughout the pregnancy.

Discounted maternity clothes rack

Consider options like renting, getting second-hand or borrowing from family and friends.

Also, consider resale or donation post-pregnancy, allowing other expectant moms to use it.

Where to buy maternity clothes?

You can buy pregnancy clothes from specialized maternity brands, online stores, and borrow or swap them with friends and family.

Here is the list of places to buy maternity clothes:

  1. Maternity-specific Clothing brands: Buy from specialized maternity brands such as Wobbly Walk, a Direct-to-consumer company, so you will get high-quality clothes at fair prices.
  2. Department stores: Many department stores have maternity sections, including Shoppers Stop.
  3. Online retailers: Many online retailers offer a wide selection of maternity clothes, including Amazon and FirstCry.
  4. Second-hand stores: Consignment shops and thrift stores such as eBay.

Rent Maternity Wear

Can you rent maternity clothes?

Yes, you can rent maternity clothes. Some websites and companies offer this service. When renting maternity wear, it's important to read the rental policies carefully regarding the rental period, quality and brand of the products, damaged or stained policy, and shipping/return process.

Renting vs. buying clothes during pregnancy

When deciding between renting or buying maternity clothes, consider the frequency of wear, future pregnancy plans, breastfeeding intentions, cost differences, the type of attire needed, and the availability of comfortable sizes. Renting may be suitable for occasional clothing items, while buying is an investment in one's comfort and style during a unique life phase.

What can you wear if you don't have maternity clothes?

If you don't have maternity clothes, choose relaxed-fit clothes in stretchy and breathable fabric. Specific sewing techniques such as runching, empire waist, and pleated can also help to adapt to a pregnant body.

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