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Maternity clothes

3-minute read

As your baby bump grows, you may find yourself unable to fit into all your normal clothes. But there’s no need to buy a whole new wardrobe of maternity wear. These tips will help you look and feel good without blowing your budget.

When to start wearing maternity clothes

Most women can wear their normal clothes for most of the first trimester (3 months).

But you might need to consider a larger bra or looser fitting clothes for comfort during this time.

When you are around 4 or 5 months pregnant, you may have to start wearing larger clothes. Most women switch to maternity wear when they are about 6 months pregnant.

What you need

There are plenty of fashionable maternity clothes available. But it is not essential to invest large sums on money in a full wardrobe.

It is best to buy a few key items of clothing that you can mix and match. Consider the weather and changing seasons during your pregnancy. Remember that you will still be wearing some of your maternity clothes for a while after the birth.

Key items of clothing you may want to consider include:

  • maternity bra
  • comfortable cotton underwear
  • two pairs of well-cut maternity trousers, such as maternity leggings or jeans
  • a plain skirt or dress, such as a stretch jersey wrap dress
  • a maxi dress
  • a jacket
  • two maternity tops (empire line tops are more flattering)
  • one smart outfit
  • comfortable, flat shoes

It is possible to adapt some of your normal clothes through your pregnancy, such as longer tops, sweaters and cardigans. You can also buy a pregnancy belt to extend your regular jeans and pants.

Where to buy maternity clothes

Many large stores in Australia carry a maternity range. There are also plenty of specialist maternity shops. Shopping online or hiring clothes for a special occasion can help you save money.

How to choose a maternity bra

You do not have to wear a maternity bra during pregnancy. But for some women, especially those with larger breasts, a maternity bra can be more comfortable.

Breasts prepare for lactation (making breast milk) quite early in pregnancy and most changes to the breasts have finished by about 16 weeks. This is a good time to invest in a maternity bra, if you want to.

It is a good idea to be professionally fitted. A correctly fitted bra will support your breasts and make you more comfortable.

Underwire bras are not recommended during pregnancy or when you are breastfeeding. Your breasts will change in size and shape and the underwire may put pressure on your breasts. This can lead to an increased risk of a blocked milk ducts or mastitis. However, some maternity bras do have flexible low-gauge wire support that is less likely to cause problems. Some women find a sports bra is all they need.

Tips to save money

  • Buy large, cheap, stretchy t-shirts and vest tops.
  • Buy maternity clothes during the sales — think ahead to what the weather will be like when you need them.
  • Vary a basic outfit by accessorising with bags, jewellery, scarves and shoes.
  • Adapt your existing clothes by moving buttons, replacing elastic with a drawstring, or using a pregnancy belt.
  • Borrow clothes from your partner or from friends who have been pregnant.
  • Hold a clothes-swapping party.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: August 2019


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The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

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