What if I told you shopping for maternity clothes isn’t nearly as terrifying as it seems? I know, cue the uproar. If you’re anything like me, shopping feels like an absolute nightmare when you’re pregnant.
You don’t want to choose something frumpy and you don’t want to squeeze your belly into something too tight.
That’s why we’re going to have a crash course on understanding maternity sizing. I’m going to go over everything you need to know about maternity sizes and how to determine the right size. Spoiler alert: It’s not difficult.
Importance of a Proper Fit
I don’t think I need to go into extensive detail about why a proper fit is important, we all know that. Nobody wants to look in a mirror and feel awkward or uncomfortable in their clothing. These are, however, prominent issues with many pregnant women.
During pregnancy, your body goes through some major changes. This can take a while after birth to go away and in some cases, your body is never the same. One’s body image and self-esteem may, unfortunately, take a temporary hit (1).
Between weight gain and hormones, the fact that your regular clothes may not fit anymore adds icing to an already-tumultuous cake. With properly fitting maternity clothing, you’ll feel more comfortable and walk with confidence.
How to Size Maternity Clothing
If you wore a size medium before, you stick to the maternity medium now. The same idea goes for pants. A woman who was a size 10 pre-pregnancy would still be a size 10 during pregnancy.
There may be some cases where you’ll need to buy a different maternity size than your regular clothing size, though. Honestly, it all depends on a brand’s sizing and the way you’re carrying your baby.
This is where fitting rooms can seriously come in handy. I suggest gathering a few sizes of the same garment. One in your pre-pregnancy size, as well as one size bigger and smaller.
Then, you can head to the fitting room and try them on. Whichever one you think is most comfortable will be the clear winner.
In my experience, the only issue I had was with pants. I was a size 8 pre-pregnancy, but my size 8 maternity jeans were constantly falling down. By going down a size, I found pants that fit well.
Most maternity shirts and dresses are stretchier as well, so you could potentially go one size lower with those.
Depending on the design of the item, you may also buy a size or two up in non-maternity clothing as well. This is where you’ll need to be mindful, though. If you do this, be sure to try on the garment before purchasing, or become familiar with an online store’s return policy.
When to Look for Maternity Clothes
Every woman experiences pregnancy differently. While some women feel the stretching and weight gain almost immediately, others are lucky enough to wear their regular clothes for longer.
There isn’t any set time in your pregnancy to break out the maternity clothing. It’s when you start feeling uncomfortable in your regular clothes that you need to start looking. If you still aren’t sure, here are a few helpful things to look out for:
- Your pants won’t button and it isn’t Thanksgiving: Although, there is a handy trick with a hair tie if you aren’t ready to retire your regular pants yet. Just take the hair tie and put it through the buttonhole. Then take both sides and loop them around the button.
- Your belly is peeking out from under your shirt: If your tummy is starting to poke out from under your shirt, it’s probably time to invest in some maternity clothes.
- Your bra feels tight: A properly-fitted bra is essential for comfort and breast health. If your bras feel tight, consider getting a few maternity or nursing bras.
- You can’t button your button-down shirts anymore: You could potentially get away with wearing these longer if you wore another shirt underneath and left it open.
- You’re starting to feel bloated: This happened for me early on, that’s when I would do the hair-tie trick with my pants.
Tried and True Maternity Garments
Is shopping your Achilles heel? If you dread the idea of shopping for clothing you’ll end up packing away in a few months, don’t fret. I have a few suggestions for you.
These pieces are extremely versatile and may be worn far beyond pregnancy. And to be honest, you’ll probably be wearing your maternity clothes for the first few months after baby arrives anyhow.
- Maxi skirts and dresses: These are stretchier and roomier than most other styles and typically provide a good level of coverage. They’re usually flowy and adjustable, better for the warmer months. Some may even come with a breastfeeding-friendly top portion to suit you when your baby arrives.
- Flowy tops: You’ll find most maternity tops are on the loose side around the belly, anyway. If you invest in a few plain pieces, like black, white, and grey, they can pair well with many outfit choices. Often, they’ll have an empire waist to add shape and accentuate your growing bump.
- Leggings: We love leggings because they’re oh-so-comfortable. You can throw them on under a long, flowy T-shirt or with a dress and be cozy in no time. Most maternity leggings will have a high-waist feature for added support.
- Maternity jeans or overalls: There are two main style options here. Some come with a belly band and others have elastic panels incorporated on the sides. Both are effective, but I personally like the elastic sides better — they’re more subtle and can be easily used after your baby is born.