My Story: Maternity Wear

contributed by Debra

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Maternity Clothing

The Maternity Wardrobe

I am currently almost seven months pregnant with my fourth son. I have spent "very" little on maternity clothes over these four pregnancies (well, I spent a bit the first time). I have always accepted anything given to me, regardless of the season. Short sleeved maternity shirts and dresses are great under a regular cardigan, for instance, or under my husband's unbuttoned denim shirt.

I have gone through and given away a lot of those donated maternity clothes, too. Just because I'm pregnant for such a short time does not mean I should be stuck wearing clothing I don't like.

Anyway, I don't rely on larger women's clothing (though I do have some) or on men's clothing (though I do have some), as they tend to fit funny. At least, they do once I hit the third trimester.

I start checking clearance racks as soon as I find out I'm pregnant. This time around, I totally splurged and bought two pairs of jeans with pockets at Sears for a total of $25. It hurt a little to spend that much money on a couple clothing items that I will only wear a few months. But you know what? I wear them virtually every time I leave the house, and they make me feel good about myself. I dearly love actually having pockets in maternity clothes.

Did I need them? No. I could have gotten by. I could have made do. I could have found less expensive alternatives. But I figure I spent about a dollar a week to have jeans I love wearing and that make me feel good about myself. They will still be in great shape for a future pregnancy.

In previous pregnancies, I have splurged for one nice thing too. I got an adorable "little black dress" during my first pregnancy, which has been a lifesaver. I've worn it to weddings, funerals, Christmas parties, and (rare) dates with my husband. I splurged on a package of maternity underwear. Those are "really" nice to have the last trimester! I splurged on a nice casual dress with my last pregnancy. I decide what I want and shop around during the first trimester. (Okay, that didn't work with the underwear!)

I have gone through a lot of maternity clothes and tossed a lot out. But every single "splurge" item is still in great shape and getting a lot of use. Well, okay, the little black dress doesn't get a "lot" of use! But it has more than paid for itself. And when I know I am done having babies, those items are going to be a huge blessing to someone, as well-constructed used maternity clothing is not that easy to find.

I have spent about $200 on maternity clothes over my four pregnancies. I was a working mom for the first two, needing dress-casual clothing in both instances. It is easier now as a stay-at-home mom. I'd say 95% of what I bought the first pregnancy has been thrown away. It was cheap stuff that made me feel horrible and it didn't hold up at all. I was going for the "make-do" alternatives for the most part. I wish I had invested more of that $100 in a few quality basics. I still have the little black dress, a flannel jumper, and a couple of nice maternity t-shirts. From my second pregnancy, I still have a pair of pants, the underwear, and a pair of overalls that was given to me. From my third pregnancy, I still have the dress, some shorts, and two to three shirts. All I've purchased this pregnancy is the jeans, a pair of workout shorts, and a polo shirt.

If necessary, you can "get by" without wasting money on temporary clothing items, but those last few weeks of pregnancy can be so miserable with backaches, heartburn, and just generally feeling huge and ungainly. It is amazing how much better I feel about everything when I have at least one reasonably nice thing to wear. I would much rather have a few well-constructed items than a dresser full of cheap, "get by" items.

My "get by" wardrobe for SAHM pregnancy includes one to two nice pairs of jeans, one to two pairs of other well-made pants/shorts, four well-made casual shirts in basic colors, one nice dress that is suitable for a funeral, wedding or a date, and one to two casual dresses. Then spend the rest of your budget on "cute" stuff at thrift stores or clearance racks. Add to this some cardigan sweaters and big button-up shirts (that you don't button up!) from your regular wardrobe (and/or from the father's).

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it to

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