Pregnancy is an exciting (and stressful, potentially puketastic) time. Maybe you’re just beginning to feel the squeeze into your own clothes, or perhaps you’re already sporting a fully-fledged baby bump. But, whether you’re early into the experience or kicking off the third trimester, you’ve likely already been hit with your fair share of financial reality checks.
Have you seen the cost of a smart bassinet? Fancy gadgets aside, you may be developing sticker shock from even the minimalist list of baby items you’ll need soon. As you tighten your budget, you’ll need to loosen your jeans. And that single go-to pair of leggings will only float you for so long.
We’ve rounded up some tips on how to build a maternity wardrobe that is functional, comfortable, and suitable for work, a prenatal yoga class, or… well, anywhere that’s not the couch. We’ll walk you through how to do it without dipping too far into that baby savings account.
Use What You’re Workin’ With
Depending on the season, you could splurge on a maternity bathing suit or winter coat. But guess what? You can also probably get by without them.
It’s easy to slide down the rabbit hole of gloriously sunlit ads online, with women cradling their flawless bumps (stretch marks carefully hidden under luxury fabrics, of course). But remember that what you already own can, in many cases, work well into pregnancy.
Your favorite blazer? Leave it unbuttoned. Same with cardigans, girlfriend. Your shorts and pants will work for quite a while– maybe even to full-term– when you employ a Belly Band. Plenty is about to change in your life; just remember your entire wardrobe doesn’t have to.
This is the most cost-effective option, especially if you have a friend circle, work colleagues, extended family, or other pregnant people in your orbit. Even if they don’t live nearby, offer to Venmo a few bucks and cover postage– your people may be keen to offload their things just to clear out some storage space.
READ MORE: The Ultimate Pregnancy Month-By-Month Savings Guide
Make sure to clarify on the front end whether your maternity fairy godmother wants her stuff back when you’re finished. If she does, you can always mail the clothes back. If she doesn’t, you can pass them on to someone new. Once you’ve found someone who has invested the money already into a wardrobe designed just for pregnancy, you can sift through and find the pieces that work best for you. Borrow what you like and leave, donate, or pass along the rest.
This one might be our favorite approach because you can get tons of lightly-used stuff online. Even high-end pieces– some new with tags– are flying around out there, and they’re yours for the taking. Once people have lightly used their pregnancy clothes, they may want to add a few bucks to the diaper fund (or just get back to their favorite pair of jeans). Either way, make an offer and capitalize on the savings.
READ MORE: What To Expect (Financially) When You’re Expecting
Well-known apps like thredUP and Poshmark are great places to start, but don’t rule out local thrift stores, consignment shops, or Facebook Marketplace. Even eBay, the OG resale site, has many name-brand maternity pieces for sale individually or as part of a lot.
If your social media algorithm sends you down the rabbit hole and you see a piece you love, cross-check used sale sites first. You may get that name-brand dress or pair of jeans for a fraction of the cost, maybe only worn a handful of times (if at all). This brings us to our next option.
Sites like Motherhood Rental, Le Tote, and Nuuly allow you to rock a top-tier maternity wardrobe without shelling out the several grand it might take to buy (and keep) all of the pieces.
Memberships ballpark $70-100 per month and typically don’t mail out an entire wardrobe at once. These services provide tiered systems at various price points, offering anywhere from two to six pieces at a time. Other variables include:
- How many articles you’d like to borrow at a time
- How often you’d like to swap out
- How quickly you need items to ship
Rental services come especially in handy when you need an expensive item or two– think guest attire for a wedding, a suit for a job interview, or a cocktail dress for the 38th Week of Pregnancy Date Night. Customize your subscription for the clothes you’ll need (you can specify if you need business professional attire, athleisure, or a combination of styles).
The best part of a membership with one of these sites? If you fall in love with an item, you can usually purchase it at a deep discount. This is a great way to try lots of clothes on your “new” (and rapidly-changing) figure to find what works best without committing to anything upfront.
Investing in Key Staples
If you’re the sort who already wears a “uniform,” buying three pairs of maternity pants and a rotation of v-neck tee shirts may suit you just fine. Whether you’re seeking out a couple of go-to items or a season’s worth of clothes, seek out pieces using the same guiding principles as your regular wardrobe.
Know what you like. If you’ve been loyally wearing Gap jeans since the ‘90s, they have a maternity line that you’ll probably favor, too. The same goes for the ever-rotating fashions at Target— especially if you want to make one efficient stop for ginger ale, prenatal vitamins, and a new top all in one place.
Get a starter set. Speaking of the Gap company, we LOVE the Old Navy starter set as a first toe into the maternity clothing waters. They’re mega affordable and make for great basic building blocks. For more building block options, have a look at pact Clothing Company. Their mission to make sustainable basics is easy to get on board with, and the construction of their pieces is great for the price. Don’t forget maternity underthings. We like the Gap and Old Navy lineups for these essentials, too– they’re inexpensive, easy to find, and generally reliable. If you need more sophistication but in the vein of smart basics, check out Seraphine Maternity. It’s a step up from the bins of Facebook Marketplace, but sensibly priced so as not to break the bank. Kindred Bravely has an excellent lineup of “Everyday Essentials,” which you can mix with any of the less-expensive options above.
Don’t be afraid to splurge on a thing or two. If you know you’ll get a ton of use from something, #treatyoself to the maternity versions of your favorite few things. Whether you live in joggers at home or wear the heck out of a white button-down on Zoom, don’t feel bad about investing in something you’ll get a lot of cost-per-wear from. (Also seriously, who doesn’t want an excuse to splurge on this hoodie?)
Parenthood is a whole new adventure, and as with any new life phase, you’re bound to spiral down a road of ads and wish lists as you dream ahead. Remember that there are plenty of affairs to get in order, in addition to the more fun endeavors of setting up a nursery or building your tummy-friendly wardrobe.
Keep in mind the other things you’ll want to focus on during this time:
- Check on your health and life insurance game: what’s covered and what isn’t? Are your policies ready for a baby or babies?
- Planning for the new costs that come with a new human: diapers, hospital bills, formula, and childcare, just to name a few.
- Gearing up for maternity leave. Does your job offer paid parental leave or a short-term disability (STD) policy? Do you have a game plan for what happens if you end up on bed rest or otherwise out of the work game for a portion of your pregnancy, or directly following birth?
We don’t need to tell you to slow down and enjoy this unique moment, though you may already be over it (nausea lozenges and half-day naps, begone!). Keep a journal of all the strange cravings, overwhelming emotions, and bodily changes to look back on someday. And remember you are growing a tiny human, so give yourself some grace. And yes, maybe some generously-sized “soft pants,” too.
MORE FOR MAMAS FROM HERMONEY:
- 6 Places to Find Work-From-Home Jobs for Moms
- How to Buy Life Insurance When You Are Pregnant
- How to Job Search While Pregnant
- The Ultimate Pregnancy Month-By-Month Savings Guide
- What To Expect (Financially) When You’re Expecting
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