How to avoid buying maternity clothes during pregnancy

CC BY 2.0 Philippe Put

Rather than spending a fortune on specialized clothes that can only be worn for a few months, try some of these tricks for staying in your regular wardrobe (mostly).

The first time I walked into a maternity clothing store, I was shocked by how expensive everything was. I knew the items were specialized to accommodate growing bellies, and I was also beginning to understand firsthand how uncomfortable being pregnant is, which can result in desperate purchases to find something nice to wear, but I still couldn’t justify spending $75 on a shirt that was wearable for only a few months.

Surely there was another way to dress my expanding body that didn’t involve dropping a fortune at the mall? Thus began my quest for maternity clothing hacks. I bought a single pair of new maternity jeans, but the rest of my wardrobe was cobbled together from various sources that I’ll explain here.

The elastic band trick

This is an old favourite of many pregnant women and is a great way to make non-maternity pants last much longer. Insert an elastic band into the button hole of the waistband and loop it around itself to anchor. Pull the elastic over to the button and hook it. The stretchier the elastic, the more extra waistband you’ll create. Just be sure to wear with a long shirt.

The Bella Band

This ingenious invention is a stretchy fabric band, about 12 inches wide. You can leave your pants unzipped completely and position the Bella Band on top to hold them up. You can pull the whole band over your belly to give extra support, or double it over to be a belt. It’s great in the post-partum weeks as well, when clothes still don’t fit properly but maternity wear is too baggy.

Wear normal clothes

There are tons of non-maternity clothes with a relaxed, flowing, or baggy style that can easily accommodate a growing belly and still be worn for years after giving birth. Leggings are great, as long as the waistband isn’t too tight and can be rolled down beneath the belly. Look for loose long tops, or buy fitted ones in a size slightly larger than what you’d normally wear. Dresses are great for pregnancy, especially maxi dresses, either with a high empire-style waist or no waist at all.

Add an elasticized waistband to shirts

The problem with many non-maternity shirts is that, even if they’re long enough, they ride up as the belly grows. You can easily add your own elasticized waistband to ensure they stay in place. Check out this blogger’s instructions for how to do it using a safety pin and piece of elastic.


The waistband on regular underwear can become uncomfortable, so try wearing lower-cut, smaller styles that keep the elastic below the belly. Pregnancy may not be the most obvious time to wear thongs, G-strings, and bikini-cut undies, but it does help – and your partner will love it!

You can also use a bra extender to give your growing bustline a couple extra inches, instead of buying new bras.

Wear a low-cut bikini to avoid buying a huge maternity one-piece bathing suit that you’ll never be able to wear again.

Add some ruching

By adding a piece of elastic to the sides of a long shirt, you can easily create an attractive fitted look that’s comfortable and will stretch as your belly grows. Read this blogger’s directions for a basic sewing project.

Depending on your ability with a sewing machine, you can insert a thin, elastic, high waistband just above the belly to add definition.

Look for stretch jersey fabric

Stretch jersey can be your best friend during pregnancy. It’s so comfortable without an elastic waistband, and yet still flatters your shape. Look for a pencil skirt that you can wear up over your belly or a flowing, irregular hem skirt that you can wear below your belly.

Please share any other suggestions in the comments below.

Tags: Clothing | Do It Yourself


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