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Maternity Clothing: Everything You Need to Know

Glowing, beautiful and radiant are just a few words that people commonly use to describe a pregnant woman, but it is easy to feel less than stunning when you are bloated and your waistline increases by the day. Luckily, there are maternity clothes that can show off your favorite assets and play down the parts that you are not as excited to show the world.

Changes in a Pregnant Woman's Body

The average woman gains 25 to 35 pounds throughout a pregnancy. A woman typically only gains two to four pounds during the first trimester and then gains about one pound per week throughout the second and third trimesters. You may gain more or less depending on your pre-pregnancy weight and if you are having twins.

A pregnant woman accumulates most of this weight in her mid-region because much of this weight is from the weight of the baby, the placenta and the uterus. However, a pregnant woman's breasts typically become larger and the rest of her body may get a little bigger due to increased blood supply and stores of fat for delivery and breastfeeding.

When to Buy Maternity Clothes

Most women can wear their pre-pregnancy clothes during the first trimester. The tighter, form-fitting clothes may be uncomfortable, but regular jeans and shirts should fit comfortably. As soon as your clothes start to get tight, you will want to go maternity clothes shopping so that you do not wake up one day without anything that will fit over your belly! Most maternity clothes have stretchy belly panels and other fabric tricks that allow you to wear the same maternity clothes throughout your entire pregnancy. However, you may gain weight in other areas and need to purchase larger sizes throughout your pregnancy.

Maternity Clothing Sizing

Maternity clothing designers usually label the sizes by pre-pregnancy sizes. For example, a pregnant woman whose pre-pregnancy waist size was a size 30 would likely fit comfortably in a pair of size 30 waist maternity pants. The maternity pants' waist size is not actually 30 inches, but they should fit a woman's body whose normal waist size is 30 inches and will accommodate her waist as it expands throughout her pregnancy. This same sizing applies to dresses, tops and other clothing that follow different sizing conventions, such as XS to XL, 0 to 14 or plus sizes.

Types of Maternity Clothes Pregnant Woman.

As your body changes, you will find that you need to replace just about every piece of clothing in your pre-pregnancy wardrobe. Maternity clothing makes know this, and they sell specialty clothing of all types, including:

  • Tees
  • Tank Tops
  • Blouses
  • Sweaters
  • Jeans
  • Pants
  • Skirts
  • Dresses
  • Bras
  • Panties
  • Hosiery
  • Swimwear
  • Active Wear
  • Sleepwear
  • Belly Support Bands and Bra Extenders

Maternity Tops and Dresses

A woman's belly, breasts and arms get larger during pregnancy, so it is essential to purchase maternity tops and dresses to feel as comfortable as possible. Many different styles are available, including tees, tank tops, blouses and sweaters and dresses. There's no need to feel frumpy in over-sized tees or sweatshirts. You can find maternity tops and dresses that are button up, sleeveless, have three-quarter sleeves, various lengths and that have various necklines. Many maternity tops and dresses have empire waistlines and fabric that gives so that you never feel restricted. You can find all different colors and styles to show off your baby bump and look radiant.

Maternity Bottoms

You can find maternity bottoms that are flattering, comfortable and appropriate for all types of situations. Don't squeeze painfully into your pre-pregnancy jeans when you can look great in maternity bottoms, which have stretchy belly panels to allow for your growing belly. Whether you want a nice pair of jeans to wear out to the mall, business slacks to wear to work or a frilly skirt to wear out to dinner, you can find just what you are looking for.

Maternity Lingerie and Hosiery

One of the most important things that you can do to feel as comfortable as possible during your pregnancy is to wear maternity lingerie that fits you without rolling down or squeezing into your skin. Wear maternity bras that have larger band and cup sizes than you normally wear. You will be surprised at the large selection of maternity bras on the market that are designed to make you feel comfortable and beautiful. You should also try out some maternity panties. Yes, you can just purchase larger underwear, but maternity panties are great because they allow for a larger belly without leaving extra fabric bunched up along the backside. If you need to wear hosiery during your pregnancy, you will only want to consider wearing maternity hosiery, which leaves plenty of room for your growing belly.

Active Wear, Swimwear and Sleepwear

Pregnant women still want to stay active and even go swimming, but it can be tough fitting into pre-pregnancy active wear or swimwear. Buying maternity active wear and swimwear is the way to go if you want to feel comfortable while enjoying your workouts and swimming. You may also find that your sleepwear no longer fits comfortably, so switching to maternity sleepwear may help you get all the restful sleep that you can before you have an infant to care to throughout the night.

Belly Bands and Bra Extenders

Belly bands and bra extenders are great ways to extend the use of your clothing as your body changes. You can use a belly band, also known as a belly sleeve or a belly belt, to smooth the lines of your unbuttoned pants, provide extra support for your pants or to hold up your maternity pants after delivery as you transition back to your pre-pregnancy size. You can use bra extenders to extend your bra bands if you feel your bra bands getting tight. Bras can be expensive, so it's a good idea to get as much use as possible out of your bras.

Maternity Clothing Stores

You can find maternity clothes at specialty maternity stores in person or online or in regular clothing stores' maternity sections. Today, many stores have maternity sections. You can give your local store a call or stop by to see if they have maternity clothes. Here are some popular stores for maternity clothes that you may want to consider.

Dedicated Maternity Stores

  • Motherhood.com: This site has it all. You can purchase all of your maternity tops, bottoms, lingerie, sleepwear, swimwear, nursing clothing, diaper bags, motherhood books, skin care products and more at Motherhood.com. They offer standard shipping for $6 throughout the United States. Motherhood also has stores throughout the United States, and they even some international stores. Look for their stores under the names Motherhood, A Pea in the Pod, Edamame Spa and Destination Maternity.
  • DueMaternity.com: When you are looking for designer maternity wear, DueMaternity.com is the site to visit. Browse the site's large selection of stylish maternity wear, from funny maternity shirts to formal dresses to find just what you are looking for to stay chic while you are pregnant.
  • Seraphine.com: Another popular option for stylish maternity wear is Seraphine.com. Seraphine.com offers expecting mothers fashionable options to show off their pregnancy curves in comfortable clothing. This shop stocks maternity clothes of all sorts, and they even have a celebrity style section so that you can dress like the pregnant stars. Seraphine.com ships worldwide, and they offer free returns in the United States.

Stores with Maternity Sections

  • Amazon.com: Amazon.com, the online superstore, has everything you need when it comes to maternity clothes. When you want a tremendous selection, quick shipping and simple returns, Amazon.com is the place to go. You can also benefit from the hundreds of reviews that many products get from happy and dissatisfied customers to help you choose the best maternity clothes for you.
  • Target: Target carries a large selection of affordable maternity clothes that are sure to meet your needs. Visit a Target store to try on Liz Lange Merona and Ma Cherie brand jeans, casual and formal dresses, swimwear, active wear, outerwear, intimates and more. You can also purchase your maternity clothes from Target online at Target.com.
  • JC Penney: JC Penney offers a bounty of options for maternity clothes, from maternity tops, jeans, capri pants and sweaters to nursing bras and maternity underwear. You can find a wide selection of brands, including Duo Maternity, Fancee Free, Leading Lady, Medela, Swat and Weavers at JC Penney stores and on JCPenney.com.
  • Old Navy: If you like the typical relaxed style of Old Navy clothing, you will love Old Navy's maternity clothes. Sport your baby bump in Old Navy's bold colored chambray and cardigans, and enjoy the comfort of Old Navy's flexible maternity denim capri pants and trousers. Try on the clothes at an Old navy store near you or order online at OldNavy.com.
  • Gap: Gap is another great place to shop if you like a simple and easy-going style for your maternity clothes. You will love their maternity V-neck sweaters, scoop-neck dresses, relaxed khakis and flattering tunics. Visit your local Gap to check out their maternity clothing selections, or browse Gap's online store at Gap.com.
  • eMommie.com: eMommie.com calls itself the ultimate maternity bargain boutique, and you will likely agree once you peruse the site a bit. The site makes it easy to find all of their products by dividing them into categories like tops, bottoms, dresses, designer labels, active, nursing, intimates, outerwear, plus size, comfort shoes and baby bear. You can search by the type of clothing item, the size, the brand and the price range. eMommie.com also sells both new and pre-owned maternity clothing, which they describe as lightly used. A great thing about eMommie.com is that all U.S. orders over $100 receive free shipping.

Saving Money on Maternity Clothes

A pregnancy can be expensive, and many mothers would rather use their money to prepare for their babies by stocking up on diapers, baby clothes and other costly items that their babies will need. Luckily, there are several ways that an expecting mother can save money on maternity wear.

  • Hand-Me-Downs: Borrowing clothing from relatives or friends who no longer need their maternity clothes is a great way to reduce the costs of pregnancy.
  • Second-Hand Stores: You can find high quality maternity clothes at second-hand stores like Goodwill or any local thrift stores. Some maternity stores, like eMommie.com, sell pre-owned maternity clothing. Maternity clothes are great to buy used because it's likely that they were only worn for less than nine months.
  • Sales: Just like with regular clothes, maternity clothes go on sale. Unpopular clothes and seasonal clothes have to go to make way for new maternity clothes, so it's a good idea to stop by your local stores regularly and sign online to check for bargains. You can likely find discounts of 50 percent or more on maternity clothes that you love!
  • Coupons: If you are a smart shopper, you can save big on maternity clothes by using coupons. You can find coupons in your local newspapers, in store circulars and online. There are several websites where you can find coupons to use both online and offline. RetailMeNot.com, FatWallet.com, CouponCabin.com, CouponMountain.com and Clothes-Coupons.com are all great sites to find these coupons. If you are planning to shop online, you will want to find online coupons that are redeemed by entering coupon codes or promotional codes. You type or copy and paste these codes into a coupon code bar once you add items to your online cart and start your checkout process. Make sure to do this and check to see if the coupon code worked before you complete the checkout process because sometimes these coupon codes expire. You can also find coupons that you can use offline by simply printing the coupons and presenting them at the registers.