When should you start buying Maternity clothes?

by Martina Minarik

If you’re wondering when your clothes will get too tight during pregnancy, or what trimester you should buy maternity clothes, the honest answer is, there is no right answer. It’s totally up to you!

Wearing tight clothes won’t hurt your baby. They’re just likely to make you uncomfortable and perhaps less excited on the outside than you feel on the inside because non-maternity clothes, even when loose-fitted and oversized, have a tendency to droop at the shoulders and pull in all the wrong places once the bump reaches a certain size.

When Do You Start Buying Maternity Wear
Wearing tight clothes won’t hurt your baby. They’re just likely to make you uncomfortable.

Most women find pregnancy an exhilarating and exciting time of their life and want to look beautiful, healthy, strong, glowing and feminine as they show off their growing bump (even when - or perhaps, because - the love, excitement and exhilaration is mixed with tiredness, discomfort, aches, pains, fear and emotional instability...). Wearing clothes that I liked and that flattered my new body helped me embrace those changes.

Most women start buying maternity clothes a few weeks into the second trimester, i.e. from week 13 onwards, mainly due to the fact that:

  1. A lot of women and couples choose to wait to announce their pregnancy to friends and family until after the first scan, which takes place around week 12. This is because the risk of miscarriage drops after the first trimester and because many people experience the pregnancy as more “real” after they’ve seen the baby and heard the heartbeat.
  2. Few women show a bump during the first trimester. Most first-timers experience a “pop” somewhere around 14 to 16 weeks. That’s because at 12 weeks the uterus can no longer hide inside the pelvis behind the pubic bone, so it starts protruding into the abdomen.
  3. Most women can make do with their existing wardrobe until they experience that “pop” by choosing clothes that are wider, looser, longer, stretchier and low waisted, like oversized t-shirts and sweaters, casual shirts, tunics, wrap around dresses, leggings, low-cut jeans and yoga pants.

So although some women go out and buy maternity clothes straight away because they feel exhilarated and want to share their news with the world, few actually start wearing maternity clothes in the first trimester.

When Should You Start Buying Maternity Wear

Many women experience that the bump "pops" sooner in subsequent pregnancies.

Subsequent pregnancies, however, tend to show sooner. That’s because the uterine and abdominal muscles have already been stretched so there is less “resistance” to your growing bump. Many repeat mums also start wearing maternity clothes sooner because they have already discovered the benefits of maternity clothes.

When I was expecting with my first, I felt a sort of pride and financial savviness in being able to wear my regular tops halfway into my pregnancy and my low-waisted stretchy jeans almost throughout. With my second, I jumped into my maternity clothes as soon as I’d had my 12-week scan.

So the answer to the questions “when do clothes get too tight during pregnancy?’” or “what trimester you should buy maternity clothes?” or “when is too soon to start buying maternity wear?” is basically: “It’s entirely up to you”.

If you’re still unsure, here are a few simple tips you can follow:

Use comfort to guide you

Because they’re tailored to accommodate your changing body, many women feel maternity clothes are more comfortable. If you choose a maternity brand that focuses on good quality, natural fabrics, the clothes should also feel softer and more gentle on your skin. That’s because natural fabrics, such as bamboo, organic cotton and organic french terry (sweatshirt material), are free of harsh synthetic agricultural chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides.

Maternity clothes tend to be more comfortable because they’re tailored to accommodate your changing body. 

So if you’re struggling to button up your trousers, your clothes leave red indents where the elastic bands or seams have dug into your skin, you’re struggling to sit comfortably or breath freely or your clothes are pulling around your neck, underarms, breasts or below your bump and you’re frequently pulling to adjusting your clothes, it’s probably high time to try on some maternity wear.

“How do I look?”

Now this is just my personal opinion but, as well as feeling comfortable, I believe clothes should also make you feel good. Pregnancy is an exhilarating and exciting time of life and I’d like to think that you feel as excited on the outside as you feel on the inside.

Whilst regular clothes have a tendency to droop at the shoulders, pull in all the wrong places or make you feel like a sack of potatoes, maternity clothes are tailored to flatter your changing shape. Ask yourself “How do I look?”. If you’re feeling anything but excited, maybe it’s worth giving maternity clothes a go.

At NINE+QUARTER we aim to design maternity clothes that make you feel confident and excited.  

Try before you buy

If in doubt, order a few styles and try them on at home to see how they look and feel. Many online brands and retailers operate a free delivery and returns policy so it won’t cost you a penny to “try before you buy”. It will also allow you to mix and match your maternity items with your regular wardrobe to see what works for you.

If it’s still early in the pregnancy you might find that a few maternity tops worn with your existing leggings (folded under the bump) or low-cut jeans work quite well, or that a pair of maternity leggings or trousers, worn with some of your regular tops and shirts, is all you need to feel more comfortable. As you progress through your pregnancy, you’ll probably find that maternity tops are infinitely more comfortable and flattering than your regular options.

In summary, some women get by with just purchasing a bigger bra and unbuttoning their trousers (top tip: one way to keep your trousers up is by looping an elastic band through the buttonhole and wrapping it around the button) and stay clear of maternity clothes altogether, whilst others start shopping for them as soon as the pregnancy is confirmed. Maternity clothes are not a MUST but they are there to make you feel good, so do what’s best for you!

More on the same topic? Read “Are maternity clothes really necessary?” 

Martina is the founder of NINE+QUARTER - organic, mindfully-made and easy-to-rock maternity and breastfeeding tops.

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