I have amassed four pregnancies worth of knowledge regarding maternity clothes. I could go on about my strategy for shopping for maternity clothes…the items I spent money on…the items that I got dirt cheap. Yet, I think the best approach to shopping for maternity clothes is to debunk the myths.
Myth 1: I’ll skip buying maternity clothes, I’ll just buy “big”
Women tend to fail to understand that their proportions drastically change. I am 31 weeks. I have 9 weeks to go to make it to 40 weeks which is the average time that women give birth. I measured both my bust and my waist. According to Old Navy, my current bust size makes me a size 12. My waist size is 45.5 inches. According to Avenue, a plus-size retailer, my waist size makes me 26. That is a huge difference and I have 9 weeks to go. Thus, if I wanted a non-maternity top to fit me, I would have to purchase a size 26 which would look ridiculous around my arms and bust. If I did purchase the size 26, it would not fit me in a couple of weeks because my stomach would still continue to grow.
Some women opt to continue to wear some of their more “stretchy” shirts into their pregnancy. This is fine as long as they know that the pregnancy will stretch out the shirt and it will not return to the original size. I do have some workout style pants that are non-maternity. They fit…they just look unattractive and I save them for wearing around the house. These XL pants fit me in the waist, but are far to roomy in the other areas of the pants causing me to look bigger than I actually am.
Myth 2: I will only wear these clothes for nine months
No one can tell you how long you will wear your maternity clothes. Most women do not need to wear maternity clothes until week 15 or 16. Since there are roughly 40 weeks of pregnancy, you will be wearing maternity clothes for 26 weeks. If you average 4.5 weeks in a month then you will be wearing maternity clothes for less than 6 months. However, there is a caveat here. Many women assume that they can wear their regular clothes home from the hospital. This is rare. I took a poll of 39 women. I think all of them are caucasian. I asked how quickly they returned to their “normal” size after giving birth. Out of 39 women, only 5 returned to their normal size in 6 months or less. Only 1 of the 5 women wore normal sized clothes home from the hospital.
This means that over 80% of women do not return to their pre-pregnancy size right away. So…what do you wear when you do not fit into your regular clothes? The easiest option is the “demi-panel” maternity pant. It has about 4 inches of elastic around it. It is the most common maternity pant. It can last through your entire pregnancy. Although for some women like myself who get really big, I do have to move to full panel pants in my third trimester.
The “demi-panel” pants are extremely helpful when your body is “returning back to shape”. Your stomach does not return to your pre-pregnancy size overnight. It does take awhile and for that reason, you might wear these pants for longer than nine months.
Myth 3: I only need pants and tops right?
Not exactly. Shoes might be an issue. For some women, their feet swell and the ligaments in the feet loosen and their feet grow. My feet have grown from being pregnant. They have increased a half size…not a big deal, but something to consider if you are building a maternity clothes budget, you just might need to include a pair of shoes.
“Unmentionables” need to be upgraded as well. Your rib cage will expand during pregnancy and it is likely that your current band size will not be sufficient. Moreover, as a pregnant woman, your body is preparing to supply food for your infant. Thus, your mammaries are changing in order to prepare for this task. Expect increases in this area as well. The best “unmentionable” that I come across is HOTmilk. They create very glamorous “unmentionables” for nursing mothers. Their products look like normal upscale versions — yet, they are designed to cater to the needs of infants. HOTmilk is based in New Zealand. I did not want to order from New Zealand for fear that I would have to send returns back to New Zealand. Hence I opted to order from the company HerRoom. Unfortunately, I did make my initial purchase in the wrong size. Returning the items was very easy and I received the refund very quickly. My replacement items are lovely. I actually have something in navy!
Myth 4: My friend is giving me (or letting me borrow) her stuff so I won’t have to spend any money
It sounds that this is a home run, but you never know how your body will respond to pregnancy. You might gain 60 pounds and not be able to wear any of the clothing your friend has provided. You might have other engagements such as attending a wedding which your friend may not have previously purchased an outfit. Moreover, I doubt your friend is going to give you her “unmentionables” and I already mentioned that you might have to purchase new shoes. It would be odd if you did not have to make some sort of clothing expenditure pertaining to your pregnancy.
Myth 5: I’ll just buy things when I need them…
The problem with maternity clothes is that there is always a limited selection. If you are thinking about having children or have recently discovered that you are pregnant, visit the maternity section of Gap.com. If you do not like any of the clothes online, you probably do not want to wait to purchase clothing because you will not find anything you want to wear. I always shop way ahead regarding maternity clothes because I am particular about what I wear and have a difficult time finding maternity clothes that either I like or that are appropriate. I have struggled in the past to find clothing that is suitable for work.
Have I forgotten any myths? Do you have any tips to add?
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