This article is full of tips for Maternity Wear – whether it’s tops, pants or underwear you’re after, for work or home, for formal or casual, small or plus size, short or tall, this guide to maternity wear will prove invaluable.
Gone are the days when maternity clothing meant tent-like dresses and oversized tees. Nowadays maternity clothes are stylish and practical – and with so many designers and stockists there is something to suit everyone’s taste.
Like your pre-pregnancy wardrobe, how much you spend and what labels you choose to buy is up to you. There are plenty of New Zealand based maternity stores online and these are easy to find by checking out our Clothing category in our directory, or via a Google search. Most of our designer babywear stores also have a maternity range and pregnancy boutiques are popping up all over the place. You can also find local stockists of both new and second hand maternity clothes by looking up ‘Maternity Wear’ in the Yellow Pages of your phone book.
So whether you’re buying second hand or new, there are plenty of places to find great looking maternity clothes and with a few basic pieces you can create a maternity wardrobe that really works. Make the most of your new body and buy something special that celebrates you, but remember to consider the following practicalities when choosing your maternity clothes.
A few basic tops are a useful addition to your maternity wardrobe, but they don’t have to be tent-like shirts which are 3 sizes too big. There are plenty of maternity tops available with flattering necklines and pleats and tucks which grow with your belly. Many also have double layers or discreet openings for easy breast feeding once baby is born.
When looking for maternity tops to wear, consider the following:
- What type of fabric is the top made of? The fabric should obviously be stretchy so that it grows with you, but it also needs to be breathable and quick drying. Like it or not, when you’re pregnant your body acts like a hot water bottle so you can often get sticky and sweaty.
- If you’re planning on wearing the top after baby is born, look for fabric that will absorb breast milk quickly and without leaving a mark. Even with the best laid plans, you’re likely to have a few leaks over your breastfeeding months and if you’re in public it’s great if they disappear as fast as possible.
- Is the top ‘feeding friendly’? If you are buying maternity clothes, it is good to be able to use them after baby is born, so look out for tops which are feeding friendly. While it’s possible to breast feed in any top, it’s nice to be able to do so discreetly when you need to. There are some great feeding friendly tops on the market which allow you to feed your baby without baring your belly, back and boobs to the world.
- What sort of neckline / bust line does the top have? It’s not only your belly that grows when you’re pregnant it’s your bust as well! Look out for tops with a flattering neckline and make sure there is ample room across the bust and back for you to grow.
- If you can still fit your pre-pregnancy tops, but have your growing belly showing as mid-drift, you can use a belly tube to disguise your tummy and give the effect of a layered top. Belly tubes can be bought from various fashion stores for around $30.
Maternity pants and skirts
Like it or not, you won’t still be wearing your favourite jeans when you’re 9 months pregnant and unless you’re one of the lucky few, you won’t be wearing them for a few months after baby is born either. A couple of pairs of plain cotton pants and a versatile skirt are essential items for a maternity wardrobe. You can dress them up with a pair of sparkly kitten heels and a beaded belt, or dress them down with a pair of sandals and a plain tee.
When looking for maternity pants & skirts, consider the following:
- The key thing to consider when buying pants or skirts is what type of waistband they have. Obviously the waistband needs to be expandable, but it also needs to be comfortable. Wide Lycra bands are great and can be positioned over or under the belly, and drawstring waistbands also rate highly in the comfort stakes. Elastic bands may be expandable, but they can get uncomfortable, especially in the later months.
- Belly belts are a great way to make the most of your pre-pregnancy buttoned waistbands. They button onto your existing button to extend the waistband, and come with fabric panels which insert into the gap. They won’t make your pre-pregnancy clothes last all 9 months, but they are great for using with your favourite clothes in early to mid pregnancy.You can find belly belts in specialist maternity stores for around $35-$40.
One nice dress is good to have in your maternity wardrobe, especially over summer. On the days when you feel like a beached whale, dresses have a way of making you feeling beautiful, so it’s definitely worth the investment. There are plenty of styles to choose from depending on whether you want to disguise your bump or enhance it, so don’t be tempted to buy an ordinary dress which is simply 3 sizes too big.
The key things to consider when buying a maternity dress are the same as when you are buying a top:
- Room to grow across the bust, back and belly
- Breathable fabric
- Feeding friendly
If you’re only planning on buying one or two ‘going out’ outfits for your wardrobe, you will want to make sure they are versatile. Choose a dress that can be worn with or without a top, or one that has changeable straps. The classic 6-way dress has been around for years and is still rated as one of the ‘must haves’ by many pregnancy magazines.
Maternity bras for those special 9 months
As soon as you are pregnant your breast size will increase, so you must make sure that you are wearing an appropriate bra.
There are two main bra choices during pregnancy:
Some maternity bras are suitable for both pregnancy and breastfeeding. Maternity bras are different to ordinary bras in that they have detachable flaps for easy feeding and extra support for a rapidly changing bust. Buying a maternity bra is a really personal experience – like normal bras you need to find one that is comfortable for you.
As maternity bras are designed to cater for a rapidly changing bust, if fitted correctly one size should see you through pregnancy and breastfeeding. Usually women wait until at least 20 weeks to move into maternity bras.
You will need at least 2 maternity bras, and maybe an extra special one for when you want to feel sexy!
Supportive, Sports Style Bra
Alternatively you can wear a sports style supportive bra in pregnancy- get it fitted correctly, to allow your breasts to grow and your milk ducts to develop. Ensure that you never wear an under wired bra in pregnancy (at any stage) as these can affect the development of the ducts and glands that are vital for breast feeding.
Then at around 36 weeks of pregnancy get fitted for your maternity bra, which will be suitable after the birth for feeding your baby.
While there are lots of online stores which sell maternity bras, I suggest you get properly fitted before making any purchase. Any store which stocks standard lingerie will also stock maternity bras. Maternity bras range from $40, right up to the ‘mortgage your house diamond encrusted’ version.
Our Babies section has a great range of articles on baby products as well as information on Breast Feeding Tips. For more information on the changes that are occurring in you and your baby during these exciting 9 months, check out Pregnancy the Three Trimesters.