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My Pregnancy Clothing Must-Haves (Splurge or save?)

I get asked a lot about my favorite maternity clothing. And, it can be hard because I think maternity clothing can be SO personal. We all carry our pregnancies differently and have different aches, pains, and struggles. This can all weigh into what maternity clothing we want.

But, I still wanted to sit down and round up my personal must-haves. At the end of the day, comfort is key for me with any maternity clothing. Sure, it’s fun to dress up the bump, see my tips for styling the bump in every trimester, but at the end of the day, nothing beats comfort.

In this post

Old Navy Maternity Tee + PinkBlush Jeans

On the Top

Maternity Tanks and Tees

Hands down, my most-worn maternity tops are maternity-specific tanks and tees. Can you just get away with wearing all looser tops? Of course, yes. BUT, I find that the number one tip I’ve learned from dressing my bump is that fitted pieces are often best. You want things that accentuate your bump, not hide it. Logic may tell you big and baggy tops are best but they usually make you look frumpy and bigger than you really are. A top that hugs your bump and shows it off actually makes you look smaller than you think.

My favorite spots for maternity tops are Old Navy and Gap, when they are running a 50% off sale which they both typically do online every 4-8 weeks. I’ve been able to buy my go-to maternity tanks under $10 and all my t-shirt/long sleeves under $15. (Make sure to follow along with me on Instagram because I’ll usually shout out their sales when they happen).

PinkBlush Dress

Dresses

I find dresses to be a maternity staple. With my first pregnancy, I spent the majority of my pregnancy in summer and literally just wore dresses the entire time. The reason they are so great is that they are just so much easier than dealing with maternity pants. (I’ll cover maternity jeans a little bit later in this post). Even the BEST maternity pants are still not as comfy as a dress. Pants can hit right at the bump or bottom of the bump and put unwanted pressure on uncomfortable spots. Dresses, on the other hand, just hug the bump or flow over the top of them, for maximum comfort.

A few dress tips:

  1. Look for dresses with ruched siding. It grows with the bump and best accentuates the bump.
  2. Next, dresses with high waistlines like an empire waist are ideal for pregnancy. The smallest section sits right above the bump. What’s great about this style is again you can often find them non-maternity so you don’t have to buy maternity-specific dresses you can’t wear again. 
  3. Consider opting for something with functional buttons or a wrap front, so you can nurse in it as well (double win). I’ve actually found a good handful of my favorite “pregnancy” dresses weren’t actually maternity at all.
  4. Stretchy, fitted dresses sized up are perfect to show off the bump (as covered above)

My favorite places to shop for bump-friendly dresses are Amazon, Target (maternity section or not) and PinkBlush Maternity which is all maternity clothing but has SO MANY amazing dress options. PinkBlush is specifically great if you need a special occasion dress pregnant.

Loose, flowy tops

While I prefer fitted tanks and tops as I find them more flattering, loose flowy tops are always good to have around for lounging, and they transition amazing into postpartum. The Old Navy Luxe Swing tank is my go-to. They are awesome to wear alone, and also layer amazingly under cardigans. I literally own every color.

I also like comfy, oversized sweatshirts. Look for ones with the slitted side, this not only gives plenty of room for the growing bump but works great for breastfeeding. My favorite is the Good Vibes Sweatshirt from Aerie, I own in it multiple colors.

I also think every pregnant momma needs just a few oversized t-shirts for lounging and sleep. Maybe you already have a few in your stash. Otherwise, there are so many cute t-shirt companies on Etsy, I just bought a few and sized up.

Cardigans

Cardigans are awesome for pregnancy because you can just layer on top of maternity tees and tanks instead of buying tons of winter maternity gear. They are also great for postpartum, so a good buy all around. My favorite cardigans are linked here.

On the Bottom

Maternity Leggings

I think the NUMBER ONE maternity clothing question I get is “what are the best maternity leggings.” Unfortunately, I still have yet to try the top ones. However, from a lot of research, and polling you guys, I’ve narrowed down the favorites to be the following (including notes on which I’ve tried).

  • Zella. I’d say these are a top contender every single time. I plan to buy a pair, but since they are pricier I’m going to get myself a pair for postpartum instead of maternity.
  • Blanqi. This legging brand is always a close runner-up to Zella. They are also on the pricier side, but unlike Zella, they often run sales on their website and you can get them at a more reasonable price point like $30-$40.
    • Sportsupport. I own the Sportsupport and really like them. What I enjoy about them most is how the band grows with your belly and then can also be worn postpartum. The material is more of an athletic/quick-dry material with some ribbing, as opposed to a softer, cotton-blend for lounging. I’ve found them super comfortable from my first trimester and now into my 3rd.
    • The Everyday Belly Support is more of a traditional, smooth fabric legging, and has built-in support for your belly and back. They are more designed for pregnancy only, as opposed to pregnancy and postpartum.
  • Lululemon Align Pant. These are another cult favorite, but also pricy. However, a lot of what I read is how AMAZING they are for working out. Honestly, I’m no fitness buff and personally look for lounging leggings over workout leggings, so they just haven’t appealed to me. But if you’re looking for a great pair of workout leggings for pregnancy, they could be a top contender.
  • Old Navy or Gap Full-Panel. In general, these are the best price point you’ll get averaging about $20 since Gap and Old Navy always run sales. I bought my first Old Navy pair with my first pregnancy for like $15 and recently got a Gap pair for about $19 during a 50% off sale. These are more like traditional leggings in the sense that they are just a standard, black, cotton/polyester blend. You’re not getting some of the extra add-ons like belly support or quick-dry material. I also find the full-panel is pretty roomy, so I really can’t start wearing them until I’m well into the 2nd trimester. But, honestly, if you’re just looking for basic black leggings to wear with comfy sweaters and get you through your pregnancy and don’t need fancy bells or whistles, these really do the job.
    • A pretty comparable legging to the Old Navy/Gap ones are the Ingrid & Isabel at Target, it’s a more affordable line of their normal stuff. I’d say they are pretty identical to the Old Navy/Gap ones.
  • Motherhood Maternity Secret Fit- You can actually get these right on Amazon and they have almost a 5-star rating with over 2,000 reviews and only cost about $20. I just recently bought a pair, so TBD on how I like them.

Maternity Jeans

Personally, I haven’t found that there is ONE perfect style or kind when it comes to maternity jeans/shorts. They are hard because there are so many things that need to go right but so many things that can go wrong.

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I’ve found I tend to have early-to-mid pregnancy jeans and then late pregnancy jeans (and then my late late pregnancy jeans…which are leggings… or no pants.) Very rarely does one pair of jeans see you from your first trimester to your third. Early in your pregnancy, the jeans with the full panel are likely going to be too loose and constantly fall down. Later in your pregnancy, these will fit better, but then you do need to deal with things like where the band attaches to the jean, because it can often hit at an uncomfortable spot and put unwanted pressure on your pelvis.  Then there’s the jean itself, sometimes it’s too loose in the thigh sometimes it’s too tight, yadda, yadda, yadda.

So here are my few tips for buying maternity jeans

  • Stick to your normal size. You might think you need to size up to accommodate your growing body but maternity jeans take this into account. 9 times out of 10 going with your normal size is the right option.
  • Trying on is best. With maternity jeans, I really suggest trying them on over buying online if possible. The actual material and where the band meets the jean can make a big difference to how they feel.
  • Know the band styles. Maternity jeans come in multiple belly band styles including over the bump, under the bump, and side panels. One isn’t better than the other, they all have their pros and cons. You’re probably going to realize you prefer a certain band style, so some of it just comes down to trial and error. With my first pregnancy I mostly only liked the over the bump style but with my second I actually find them uncomfortable and itchy. So it can even vary from pregnancy to pregnancy. 
    • Over the bump jeans offer:
      • Feel more secure and offer support
      • Tend to look more smooth under tight-fitting tops.
      • Some women find them uncomfortable and itchy.
    • What under the bump jeans offer:
      • Better for women who develop sensitive skin on their belly
      • Can be worn earlier in pregnancy and often after pregnancy
    • Side Panel
      • Usually ideal for the 1st and 2nd trimester and postpartum. 
  • Comfort is key. Pregnancy can be uncomfortable enough you don’t need bad jeans making it worse. You want them to feel soft and not have any points that are pinching you (standing or sitting). Typically I find maternity jeans made with a jean fabric that’s got stretch is best. When the jean material is too stiff and it connects to the stretchy band it can lead to weird tight spots and pinch points.

I’d say my two favorite brands I’ve tried are PinkBlush and the Indigo Blue from Motherhood Maternity (both linked above). PinkBlush are pricier, but I find the material more comfy, and overall the jean feels more high-quality.

Other Considerations

Maternity Underwear

You certainly don’t HAVE to get maternity underwear, but there’s a good chance your normal stuff will start to get uncomfortable further into pregnancy.

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I own a set of under-the-belly underwear that I LOVE. It’s so comfy for maternity.

I also own a handful of my RIDE OR DIE Aerie undies just sized up one. These seamless super lightweight underwear feel like you’re wearing nothing.

Bralettes

I find bralettes to be the most comfortable in pregnancy, especially as my rib cage expands. This one has been my absolute favorite. The good thing is, I’ve learned a lot of bralettes are nursing-friendly, so they tend to wear well into the postpartum time, as well.

Maternity Winter Jacket

This is my first winter pregnancy, since my first was born in October. I debated for a LONG while if I was going to invest in a maternity winter jacket and finally chose yes.

But, first, let’s chat if you actually need one:

  • Do you live somewhere it gets that cold? Obviously, if winter in your parts only means 1-2 days under freezing, you may be able to get by without one or invest in a lightweight one instead of a pricier winter jacket.
  • Do you spend a lot of time outdoors? If you really only go outside to walk to and from work or the grocery store, investing in a maternity-specific jacket might not be worth it. You could get away with wearing a regular jacket unzipped, or just buying somethings sized-up from a consignment shop to get you through.
  • How much of your pregnancy will be in the winter? If you’re due in, say, mid-December, you may be able to ride it out.

So, all those things being said, I decided I DID need on. In CT winters can be brutal and with a toddler at home, we spend a lot of time outside. Even in the winter, we’ll bundle up to get fresh air. So, I needed something.

I ended up narrowing it down to a 3-in-1 maternity jacket option, these are ones designed for pregnancy, non-pregnancy, and baby-wearing. They typically come with a zipper insert, that can be added for your growing bump, or used to be worn over your little one when baby-wearing. Again, since I have a toddler at home, I know once baby girl is here we’re still going to be going outside for playtime, and I really liked the idea of having something easy to baby-wear in. I remember with Miles, it was hard to layer my jacket over him when I was babywearing. I also loved the idea that these 3-in-1 jackets can be worn non-maternity as well, which just makes it feel like a far more worthwhile purchase.

I found two amazing options after lots of research, and personally splurged the extra for the Seraphine one, just because I liked the look/style a lot more and since I was buying something not JUST for maternity, it made sense to get one I really liked and will wear for years. The fur lining also made me think that overall it’s a warmer jacket. But, this Motherhood Maternity one is about $75 less.

Pajamas

Comfort during sleep is key. You already have enough working against you during pregnancy sleep. I’ve personally found I can get away with non-maternity PJs, but I do think about things I can wear through pregnancy and into postpartum.

I prefer nightshirts, sized up one (and I suggest you just get something nursing friendly so you can use it postpartum, too.)

I also highly suggest a few pairs of standard comfy lounge pants (like my favorite Stars Above) just sized-up one size.

Gripper Socks

Every mom and mom-to-be needs some cozy gripper socks. Especially if you live somewhere that gets cold, get yourself a few pairs of cozy gripper slipper-socks. My favorites are linked here, I like that they are just 1-2 colors, so it makes laundry a breeze.

Shorts

Ok, I feel like I went into FULL DETAIL on jeans, but skipped right over shorts. In general, I feel very similar to maternity jeans as I do to maternity jean shorts, but I don’t find jean shorts AS HARD to shop for. Shorts are easier because it’s OK for them to fit loose. I size up even in my non-maternity shorts. So, my best tip with jean shorts is to choose maternity jean shorts and then just size up from your normal size. It’ll give you plenty of room for the bump and comfort for your legs.