Maternity Clothes: What to Buy, When to Wear, and How Not to Go Broke

Maternity Clothes: What to Buy, When to Wear, and How Not to Go Broke

Here's what to buy and the necessities for each trimester!

Updated February 10, 2024
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Pregnancy is filled with so many new adventures — especially as a first-time mom. Think about it! From learning what you can and cannot eat to boldly exploring baby stores and creating a registry amongst the dozens upon dozens of products, there’s a lot to take on. One new adventure that every pregnant woman takes on is finding the right maternity clothes to wear while growing a tiny human — and belly — for nine whole months. So where do you begin, what should you buy, and how can you do it without going broke? Let us explain.

What Maternity Clothes to Buy

In a dream world, you find roomy and baggy staples in your pre-pregnancy closet that will stylishly get you through pregnancy without visiting the maternity section of a clothing store. However, for most women, this dream world does not exist.

I learned this lesson myself. As a first-time mama, I did what I could to stay in my pre-pregnancy clothes as long as possible. After all, it shouldn’t be too hard to do, right? Boy, was I wrong. I hit the point, at about four months, where my once flowy tops began to look like belly shirts. So, I reluctantly started looking for maternity clothes, but let me tell you, I’m so glad that I did. The second I put on my first pair of full-panel workout pants, I never went back — and possibly never will!

Maternity clothing has been more flattering on that cute, growing baby bump. It has allowed me to be more comfortable in everything I do, from working all day in an office to enjoying a prenatal yoga class.

Necessities for Each Trimester

Here’s what I have found as the must-haves for each trimester of pregnancy:

First Trimester

Belly Band

Maternity Clothes: What to Buy, When to Wear, and How Not to Go Broke
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I purchased two belly bands, one black and one nude, early on in my pregnancy and have not regretted it. In fact, in my third trimester, I still use these bands. They look the best with flowy tops, allowing you to be comfortable while wearing your favorite pre-pregnancy pants. It took me from that “too tight” feeling of buttoned jeans to being able to breathe.

Second Trimester

Maternity Workout Pants

Maternity Clothes: What to Buy, When to Wear, and How Not to Go Broke | Baby Chick
GapFit Maternity Full Panel Capris $26.99
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Like pre-pregnancy jeans, my workout leggings started becoming more uncomfortable as I teetered the first and second trimesters. I knew I needed something that would be sweat-resistant and let my growing stomach, well, grow. In all honesty, I had a hard time finding leggings that were truly workout leggings. The first few pairs I ordered online ended up being those you would wear with regular clothes despite being advertised as athletic leggings. This is an item that I splurged on, and I am so glad I did, as they have been worn constantly throughout my pregnancy.

Maternity Leggings

Maternity Clothes: What to Buy, When to Wear, and How Not to Go Broke
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Remember how I explained I had difficulty finding authentic athletic workout leggings? That, in part, led me to my favorite maternity leggings. I was never one to wear leggings as pants before I got pregnant. However, comfort is key, especially as you near the end of the second trimester. These leggings have become my best friend and pair well with a long tank and cardigan.

Third Trimester

Maternity Clothes: What to Buy, When to Wear, and How Not to Go Broke

I finally went “all out” in the third trimester with my maternity wardrobe. I added full-panel jeans, a few maternity tops, a couple of maternity dresses I could wear to showers and weddings, and a new maternity bra that fit my growing body and doubled as a nursing bra for when the baby arrived.

How Not to Go Broke with Maternity Clothes

1. Choose your staples!

Invest in maternity staples and make them work for you as long as possible. These staples included belly bands, workout leggings, and regular leggings. I could pair all of these items with flowy pre-pregnancy tops and sweaters. Once I started to grow out of these, I could add maternity tops into the mix.

2. Look for deals!

This is especially helpful if you’re early in your pregnancy, as you have a longer time to spot a good deal, but keep an eye out for discounts and affordable maternity clothing. Another trick is to do your shopping online. Many online maternity websites have special offers for first-time purchases, including maternity clothes on Amazon.

See also: Best Places to Shop for Maternity Clothes

3. Borrow from a friend — or service!

As my belly began really growing in the second trimester, a friend offered to let me borrow a few tops she wore during her pregnancy. If you don’t live in the same city as your fellow mom friends, consider one of the services that allows you to “rent” maternity clothing, such as Le Tote or Stitch Fix Maternity.

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Colleen is a wife and mom of two under two based in Kansas City. She has a passion for researching and writing about anything and everything pregnancy, parenting, and kiddos.… Read more

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