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When to Start Wearing Maternity Clothes

Elizabeth Keefe |28, October 2013


Have you started to notice your pants getting a little snug? Have you started to bulge out of your bra and shirts? Have you noticed that your favorite jeans just don't button, fit or look right anymore? Many newly pregnant women wonder, "When should I start wearing maternity clothes?"

When to Buy Maternity Clothes

First trimester changes can bring on slight weight gain of about 4 lbs, bloating, and mild cramping as your uterus begins to expand to accommodate your baby. You might begin wearing sweatpants or leggings in order to be more comfortable. However, during your second trimester is when pregnancy changes really start happening! Most women start wearing maternity clothes between the 12th and 16th week of pregnancy — when their belly begins to expand. This is your cue that it is time to head to the maternity department and start picking out some new clothes!

What Maternity Clothes Should You Buy?

Nursing Bras

You first purchase should be sturdy, supportive maternity or nursing bras. As early as the 6th week of pregnancy you have probably noticed your breasts have grown — sometimes by as much as a full cup size! Maternity and nursing bras will give you the lift you need, as well as prevent breast pain and discomfort. You may need to buy multiple bras throughout your pregnancy to accommodate your growing breasts. If you are planning to nurse your baby, go ahead and just buy nursing bras. This way, you will not have a bunch of bras sitting around that you won't be wearing after pregnancy!

Maternity Jeans & Tops

It might be a bitter sweet goodbye to your favorite jeans. You know... the comfy ones that you wear almost every day and could almost walk on their own! However, stylish and comfortable maternity jeans are now available that will give you that same "I'm beautiful and sexy" spark when you put them on. They are available in boot cut, skinny, and flare styles that feature spandex that covers and supports your entire belly. The legs are typically made of stretchable jean material that will give you the comfort that you want. Rock these jeans with a maternity baby doll top, a tunic top or sweater along with some knee high boots, and you are ready to hit the town!

Career Maternity Clothes

If you work in an office, you don't really have a choice but to buy a new maternity wardrobe. Long gone are the days when a woman had to settle with oversized clothing to accommodate their growing belly. Working pregnant women are now expected to maintain their professional appearance and look sharp — everyday! There are many options for career Moms in maternity stores as well as department stores. You will need a career wardrobe consisting of pants, tops, sweaters, and stockings. If your office environment is formal, comfortable maternity business suits are available. Be sure to buy some support stockings to prevent swelling — especially if you sit at a desk all day!

If you are on your feet all day, you will want to find some good, supportive shoes that will stretch with your feet. Unfortunately yes, your feet will grow and expand during pregnancy. Mary Janes, ballet type shoes, or wide toed shoes are some better options. Heels are not a good option for pregnant women as they can cause a lot of discomfort and pain as well as foot conditions later on.

What If You Don't Want to Buy Maternity Clothes?

Some women opt to not wear maternity clothes due to preference, or budget constraints. That's OK! It's not easy for most to simply go out and buy a whole new maternity wardrobe. If you are a stay at home Mom, it is not a requirement to go spend hundreds of dollars and buy special clothes that you would only wear for nine months. Here are some other options that are just as stylish as maternity wear:

  • Stretchable leggings or elastic waist pants.
  • Oversized blouses, t-shirts or knit tops.
  • Oversized sweaters, or borrow your husband's sweaters!
  • Tunic Tops.
  • Maxi Dresses.
  • You will still need the maternity or nursing bras though!

When to buy maternity clothes depends on when you begin to notice physical pregnancy changes in your belly and breasts. Some women will begin showing earlier, some later. The decision will depend on your personal preferences, as well as your work requirements and lifestyle. Either way, there are ways to look and feel beautiful, sexy and stylish — with or without maternity clothes.

Elizabeth Keefe is the mother of two children. Since 1998, she has been the editor and owner of Baby Corner, and enjoys sharing information and advice to new and expectant parents about pregnancy and parenting topics. She currently lives in NY with her family.

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