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Maternity clothes

5-minute read

Key facts

  • As your baby bump grows, you may be unable to fit into your normal clothes.
  • There are plenty of fashionable maternity clothes available but there's no need to buy a whole new wardrobe.
  • It's best to buy a few key items of clothing — such as maternity bras.

When should I start wearing maternity clothes?

You'll want to stay comfortable while you're pregnant. As your body changes, you may want to consider wearing:

  • a larger bra
  • looser fitting clothes

You're likely to feel warmer during pregnancy, and you may sweat more. These changes may be due to:

  • hormone changes
  • an increase in blood circulation

Lose clothing can help you feel more comfortable.

Try to wear clothing made of natural fibres — these are more breathable than synthetic fibres.

What clothing will I need?

It's best to buy a few key items of clothing that you can mix and match. Consider the weather and changing seasons during your pregnancy. And 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 while pregnant are:

  • maternity bras
  • maternity tops
  • maternity trousers, jeans or leggings
  • a plain skirt or dress
  • a jacket
  • comfortable, flat shoes

You may be able to wear 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.

There are plenty of fashionable maternity clothes available. But it's not essential to invest large sums of money on a full wardrobe. These tips will help you look and feel good without blowing your budget.

Work clothes

If you wear a uniform to work, let your employer know that you are pregnant so that they can supply you with larger sizes.

You may be able to wear your smarter maternity clothes to work. But if your workplace is more formal, you may have to invest in some larger sized office wear.

If you normally wear heels to work, you may want to change to flat shoes.

How do I choose a maternity bra?

Your breasts will change quite early in your pregnancy to prepare for breastfeeding. Most changes to your breasts will finish by about 16 weeks. This is a good time to invest in a maternity bra. Most maternity bras also open so that you can easily feed your baby once they're born.

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

When you're trying on different bras, check out how the bra cup opens. You can buy bras with a clasp either in the centre or on the shoulder. Look for bras where the whole cup folds away, so that you don't put pressure on a full breast while breastfeeding.

You may want to have 2 or 3 maternity bras. This is because you may need to change your bra more often if your breasts leak milk.

Underwire bras

Underwire bras are not recommended during pregnancy or when you are breastfeeding. An underwire may put pressure on your breasts as they change size and shape. This can lead to an increased risk of a blocked milk ducts or mastitis.

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.

Where can I buy maternity clothes?

Many shops 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 can I save money?

Check your wardrobe to see which clothes will fit your growing figure.

You can also try to adapt your existing clothes by:

  • moving buttons
  • replacing elastic with a drawstring
  • using a pregnancy belt

There are also other things you can try:

  • Borrow clothes from friends who have been pregnant.
  • Borrow clothes from your partner.
  • See what you can find at the local op-shop or second-hand store.
  • Hold a clothes-swapping party.
  • Vary outfits by accessorising with bags, jewellery, scarves and shoes.
  • Buy maternity clothes during sales — think ahead to what the weather will be like when you need them.

Speak to a maternal child health nurse

Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.

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

Last reviewed: July 2023

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Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

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