Don't let your enthusiasm overpower your common sense

Maternity Clothing

by Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

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The Maternity Wardrobe

Congratulations! You're having a baby…and a wardrobe. In addition to all the things necessary for your coming attraction, Mom, you're going to need some new clothes. Here's how to dress affordably and fashionably in the coming months.

Put off wearing maternity clothing as long as possible. Many first-timers don't have a noticeable bump for four months. During the summer, knit shorts with elastic waist bands and long, tie-back jumpers and dresses can be very forgiving, and during the cooler months, leaving pants unbuttoned (secure with a rubber band looped through the buttonhole and over the button) with layering pieces can stretch your present wardrobe.

Consider the other styles you already own that will accommodate your coming bump: empire waists, trapeze shirts, baby doll styles, and low-rise pants and shorts that can rest under your belly. You may need fewer things than you think.

Borrow from your husband's (or brother's) tees, sweatshirts, sweaters, outerwear and, depending upon the guy's size and your size, shorts and pants.

Ask other moms you know if you can borrow their maternity clothes. Check out and for free duds, too.

Avoid splurging at the maternity clothing stores; they capitalize on the enthusiasm of new parents-to-be. Go ahead and window shop for ideas and pricing, but leave the credit cards at home. Shop eBay and the clearance racks at outlet stores for great deals by comparing with retail prices.

For career wear, stick with items that mix and match well like jackets and coordinating (but not matching) pants and skirts, so you won't have to obtain as many garments. Dressier tees without rib knit necklines look nice under jackets or dressy sweaters.

Select maternity dresses that tie in the back, not ones fitted with darts, since the former will adjust as your tummy grows. Classically-styled jumpers and dresses that layer nicely span seasons and may be worn for subsequent pregnancies at other times of the year. For example, a jumper may be worn with a light-weight tee or a long-sleeved shirt to transition from summer to fall. Select basic styles, not fads, so you can wear the clothing for more than one pregnancy and so they will retain a greater resale value.

Most women look about six months pregnant after giving birth, even if they gain only the recommended amount of weight because it takes roughly six weeks for the uterus to shrink back to its normal size. Therefore, choose a few maternity tops that allow for breastfeeding via a button-down front, wrap styling or a loose cut that allows baby to nurse under the shirt.

As for underwear, you should be able to wear low-cut styles for most, if not all, of your pregnancy because they will ride under your burgeoning belly. Maternity briefs that come up to the waist have a built-in stretchy panel but are the most expensive way to go.

Your tummy expansion isn't the only coming alteration. Most women experience a temporary or permanent change in bra size during pregnancy and definitely after. Since it's hard to tell what kind and size of bra will offer you the greatest comfort, coverage, convenience and support both now and postpartum, buy just a couple inexpensive cotton sports bras or nursing bras until you figure it out.

If your shoe wardrobe consists of heels and sloppy sandals, obtain a few pairs of low-heeled shoes with good treads to prevent falling while pregnant or carrying the baby after he/she is born. Swollen ankles and feet may also require setting aside the darling peep toe pumps for more forgiving footwear. Just as with clothing, shop the clearance racks and eBay for deals.

After your last pregnancy, sell whatever maternity clothing you can on Ebay, Craigslist, or at a consignment shop or yard sale.

Pregnancy and parenting will bring many changes to your life, but crashing your clothing budget doesn't have to be one of them.

Deborah Jeanne Sergeant writes from her home in Wolcott, N.Y. Her web site is

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