maternity clothes

After spending the morning with my non-maternity tights hanging off my ass as I walked to work, I thought I would share a little of what I have learned about maternity clothes shopping, now that I am halfway through my second trimester.  I was somewhat surprised by what worked and what didn’t, so perhaps I can save you a few dollars if you are still in the early stages of pregnancy, especially if you work an office/desk job like me.  Other pregnant ladies or moms, feel free to chime in.

Non-maternity clothes and belly bands

There are all these tips for expanding your ordinary wardrobe — hair tie around the button of your jeans, belly bands, etc.  These worked for exactly three days for me, then I found actual maternity clothes to be much more comfortable. The truth is that most of my early pregnancy belly expansion was due to bloat, not baby. This meant that expanding my ordinary clothes via hair-tie or leaving pants unbuttoned made me look sort of…. lumpy.  And muffin-top-ish.  Not a good look for anyone.  I also found that with the belly band, while it was nice when I hadn’t yet had a chance to get to the store for maternity clothes, it made the unhooked clasp or button of my pants dig into my skin when I sat for long periods.  Which I do every day.

However, wrap dresses and long non-maternity shirts have been lifesavers, and I am actually sitting here as I write this wearing a non-maternity pseudo-wrap dress from Ann Taylor. It’s from a few seasons ago so I definitely got lots of non-maternity use out of it before it became a maternity dress.  Here I am in it at about 19 weeks:

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It looks basically the same now, although the belly is bigger.  Stretchy material = straight hemlines.  This is something I have become obsessed with. I hate how maternity shirts and dresses are too long in the front if you aren’t yet big enough in the belly, and I hate how ordinary shirts and dresses are too short in the front.

Below-the-belly pants

One purchase I was super-pleased with early in pregnancy was this pair of pants from the Gap.  They weren’t very expensive for work pants (I got them on sale, so they definitely weren’t $55 — more like $30) and they were really comfy during the late first trimester and early second trimester.  Plus they are cute!

BUT.  Now that I have a much bigger belly, I have found any of the “demi-panel” or below-the-belly pants to be super uncomfortable.  If you sit for a long period of time, which is pretty much guaranteed at an office job, they tend to dig in right at your hips/low belly.  Which, you will realize, is exactly where your baby sits.  This makes the baby super pissed-off.  My particular little one shows its irritation by first kicking and jabbing at the offending waistband, which isn’t very comfortable in the first place. Then, when this is ineffective, baby turns its aggression and frustration toward my cervix and bladder, which is decidedly less comfortable.  Once I actually peed my pants a little because of this bladder kickboxing.  Maybe that was baby’s goal, to get me to pee myself so I would go change out of those horrible pants.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved these type of pants early in pregnancy and will probably wear them postpartum as well (perhaps for a long time, because who doesn’t love an elastic waistband on otherwise really cute pants).  But I would say limit these to one or two pairs so you don’t waste a bunch of cash on things that are only comfortable for a month or two. {side note: I also have this skirt, which sits below the belly. Because it doesn’t have the super-intense waistband a lot of the below-the-belly pants have, it’s still comfy. I paid full price for it and am really happy with the purchase, even though around $50 for a jersey cotton skirt is crazy. This could also be worn post-pregnancy.}

Over-the-belly pants, maternity shirts, and maternity swimsuits

Although I was initially dismayed at the number of shirts with butterflies on them, there are actually a fair number of pretty cute clothes out there.  I generally find one or two things every time I am out shopping, and avoid the urge to “stock up” — partly because the belly size changes fast, and the weather changes faster, and partly because the odds of finding more than one thing I love at the same store at the same time seem to be small.  I have liked best Gap, Target, Old Navy and Motherhood Maternity.  I haven’t made it over to Pea in the Pod, though I hear good things about their leggings. I even got this cute swimsuit from Motherhood for our upcoming babymoons (yes, we are taking two – one as a family, and one as a couple).

Cross Back Maternity One Piece Swimsuit

For swimsuits, I generally just wear my normal two piece, but the kids are a little self-conscious about the belly hanging out there for public view, so I decided to get a one-piece maternity suit too.  I am not sure why they think pregnant ladies want to wear swimsuits with skirts, because it’s actually not my thighs that are pregnant. But, whatever, there are still cute one- and two-piece suits to be had, and now is a good time to get them on sale. The red one pictured above came in at around $20 with a great sale price and a coupon code.

The truth is, I have 2 or 3 favorite things that I just wear over and over again, and hope that if I wear a red necklace this time and a black scarf another time, it counts as different outfits.  I wear a lot of t-shirts to work with a cardigan or blazer, and am just happy to be comfortable, if not totally professional.  Over-the-belly pants are definitely the best (although they can be a tad itchy after a while), and real, legit maternity shirts are more flattering in terms of looking pregnant rather than just heavy.  Also, buy the maternity stockings. They are apparently worth it, if my walk to work this morning is any indication.

One thing I have appreciated about maternity clothes is that they are, for the most part, machine washable. I guess this is because they know you don’t have 2 weeks to lose while that shirt hangs out at the dry cleaner. Or maybe because of the high polyester content, not sure. It’s a lifesaver though, when you have 2 workable pairs of pants, one dress, and 4 shirts.

A quick note on underwear

I could not figure out why underwear was one of the first things I outgrew as my belly got bigger. My ass generally seemed to be the same size, yet my old underwear was cutting off the circulation. I went up a size and that didn’t do it either.  Then, I took a good hard look at my naked self from the side.  The thing about the baby belly is that it does not actually start at your belly. It basically starts curving outward right at your pubic bone. There is a lot more girth in your nether regions from this outward curving low belly area.  This is why the underwear doesn’t fit — you are bigger in the front than you were before, even down low.  Just go out and buy big-ass low-rise bikini style underwear. You will be so glad you did.  As my mom has always said, “Nothing goes right when your underwear’s tight.”  I never actually understood what the hell she was talking about until now.

One last bit of advice — people generally won’t notice (or care) if you wear the same 5 things over and over, but they will apparently notice if you wear the same shirt every Friday!