One of the things that get first-time moms like me by surprise is the cost of maternity clothes at retail. The second surprising thing is…how rare it is to find them used and in your size in both thrift and department stores. Boy have I tried, half the thrift stores don’t even have maternity sections!
I guess it’s one of those rare instances that the laws of fashion don’t apply. It’s not just another cute cardigan or a pair of shorts that every brand makes. It’s a very specific period for a woman’s body. A lot of maternity brands specialize in only maternity clothing. Lastly, it’s also a relatively short period of a woman’s lifetime when you’re actually showing a bump so the quality and longevity to price scenario don’t apply.
With a baby coming, let’s budget for clothes conservatively! Because babies are expensive!
But I didn’t want to go too cheap on maternity dresses! Comfort should be #1 especially when preggo! Shopping online can be risky with sizing, especially if it doesn’t fit well while your body is growing and changing every day. I started as a size XS and by the end of my pregnancy, I was a solid M.
Navigating through this myself for the first time I’ve slowly learned these frugal maternity clothing tricks without sacrificing on clothing quality and comfort. So worry not, there’s always a way to be money savvy & frugal when it comes to anything 🙂
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Do You Really Need Maternity Clothes?
Yes, yes you do. A lot of changes happen during pregnancy, especially in the mom’s physical body. This is especially notable during the last months of pregnancy, where annoyances such as backaches and swelling become more frequent and almost unbearable. You are carrying a new life, you should at least have comfort and all the love you deserve.
It is the time when being comfortable is more important than being fashionable, at least for sane mommies-to-be.
The specific need for types of maternity clothes boils down to preference. It’s reported that on average, an expecting mother spends about $500 for maternity clothes alone. And most pregnant women start to buy maternity clothes around the second trimester.
Essential types of maternity clothes you should get your hands on while pregnant:
- Maternity belt / Bellybands
- Muumuu dresses
- Loose dresses with a slit cut up the side on the legs (recommended by our doula)
- Maternity leggings over the belly
- Your husband’s old sweatshirts and hoodies 🙂
- Flowing kimonos
- Under bump (low cut) underwear
- Postpartum (high rise) underwear
- Sleeping nursing bras with no underwire
- Hand-free pumping bras
Yes, the list of absolute essentials is a bit long but fortunately, other clever moms all around the world discovered some tricks to stay comfortable and fashionable without breaking the bank. Read on to learn about different hacks and tricks to avoid buying unnecessary maternity clothes!
1. The Rubber Band Trick
Whether you like it or not, jeans and tight pants are your first wardrobe casualties. As your baby bump starts to grow, so does your waistline. Maternity jeans can range from $30 to $100. After the pregnancy, it is likely that you’ll ever wear these jeans again. The Rubber Band trick will allow you to wear your regular jeans during the first trimester. All you have to do is to tie a rubber band or a ponytail in your jean’s button. Insert one end of the rubber band through the buttonhole. Hook the rubber band back to the button, and that’s it.
2. Modify The Pockets of Your Jeans
The rubber band trick will last you at least until the 2nd trimester. As your baby bump keeps on growing, you’ll probably need to find another solution to accommodate furhter along. But don’t throw your jeans away just yet, you can still do one last hack to use it during the remaining months of your pregnancy.
To do this trick, you need to have a sewing kit, thick elastic, and a scissor. First, you need to remove the whole pocket from the jeans. Next, use the pocket cut out to measure the elastic you’ll need (about double the length of the cut out). Last but not least, sew the elastic in the pocket area of your jeans.
3. Go for Long Maxi Dresses
Practical moms like to buy things that they can use several times to minimize expenses. The idea of maternity dress which can be used after pregnancy has been around since the 18th century using short gowns. In this modern age, the Maxi Dress is the choice to make.
Maxi Dress is basically a form-fitting tube-dress made with cotton or polyester. You can find different varieties of prints and neck designs. What makes this appealing is that you can buy it for under $20 (half the price of a maternity dress) and you can use it after your pregnancy.
This is me wearing the same exact sunflower maxi dress my mom worn when she was pregnant with me. Can you believe this cheapy, yet super comfy dress lasted 2 generations?
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4. Try Wearing Stretchy Dresses
Most moms-to-be would buy loose-fitting dresses in order to become more comfortable. Loose clothing can accommodate the baby bump without restricting movement. But let’s face it, loose clothing (shirts, dresses, etc) are very unflattering when you’re pregnant. I didn’t want to look more..like a whale. Darn nature! Loose fits cover the area underneath the baby bump and hang like a curtain.
Instead, show your baby bump to the world by using form-fitting clothes made out of stretchable fabric. No more “hanging curtain” space beneath your baby bump.
5. Invest in Leggings, Kimonos, and Tunics
Tunics, flowing kimonos, and leggings are great additions to your maternity wardrobe. These are very comfortable to wear, available in different patterns + materials and can be purchased for cheap. Use flowy and stretchy tunics and add some spice with a scarf or a necklace.
Tunics and kimonos can be bought for less than $5 each secondhand. I purchased 4 kimonos on sale secondhand from Thredup and my total came to under $30 including shipping and taxes.
You can get one for just a little over $10 on Amazon. Once your pregnancy is over, you can still wear them!
6. Borrow Some of Your Hubby’s Clothes
This could be TMI (too much information) but I’m sitting here, writing this up…in my husband’s Adidas boxer briefs. Perhaps, the easiest way to save money by avoiding maternity clothes is to borrow your partner’s clothes. Even a regular button-up shirt is big enough to replace maternity clothing. And you don’t even have to change anything. Just take a few of his wardrobe pieces (shirts, sweatshirts, underpants etc.) and poof! Comfy new PJs for the (temporarily) bloated miss mom to be!
My old underpants no longer fit comfortably after the 2nd trimester. I don’t even want to tell you how comfy his boxers are. There’s no way they would have fit me before but now his boxers and briefs are perfect. It’s almost embarrassing how comfortable they are. Bonus, the clothes I’m stealing from my husband smells like him, reminds me of him, makes me happy because I love him :D!
7. Revamp Your Undergarments
Besides raiding your husband’s underpants drawer…there’s also the growing girls. Changes in the body shape do not only happen in the baby bump. When your breasts are starting to grow because of milk production, you might find yourself in need of a bigger bra. Instead of buying a new pair, a lot of moms recommend using bra extenders instead. All you have to do is to sew the bra extender to your current bra and you’re ready to go. A set of six extenders only costs about $6 while a new bra can cost $15+ or more. Another thing is simply investing in sleeping nursing bras (the super comfy ones without an underwire.)
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8. Make a DIY Ruched T-Shirt
Not a fan of loose maxi dresses or form-fitting stretchable clothing? You can still wear your regular shirts or tank tops, but a bit of a hack and craftiness is needed. Ruching is a technique that makes oversized shirts and dresses fit more by folding the extra fabric into a fashionable ripple design.
To perform this hack, you need an oversized tank top or shirt, a sewing machine (or a sewing kit), scissors, and elastic. Pin the elastic on the side seam of the shirt and stretch it to the bottom. Let the sewing machine do the work by ruching the elastic all the way. And done, your regular oversized shirt is now a DIY maternity dress.
9. DIY Your Own Belly Band
Belly Bands is an amazingggg tool to have during pregnancy. I wish I got it sooner! I was skeptical at first when I purchased my Jill & Joey belly band I thought I would end up returning it – but this little strip of stretchy, velcro fabric lets you feel comfortable and supported at the same time.
Maternity belly bands can be bought on Amazon for $15-$50 dollars depending on how fancy you want to get. Can you dupe it for cheaper? Oh for sure! It’s simply a piece of support fabric positioned to help you leverage a jumbo belly. Not rocket science but makes a big difference!
With creativity and a piece of an old small shirt, you can have your own band for free. Pick a shirt that you don’t wear anymore. It’s better if you can get a shirt with a dark or gray color. Cut the shirt from armpits to armpits to make it a tube. Finally, sew elastic on the top side and stretchy lace on the hem. You can now use the DIY band to feel supported. Your back will probably thank you too!
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How To Find Great Deals In Maternity Clothes
1. Borrow or Buy Secondhand
If DIYs and other dress is not for you, or only peculiar maternity clothes make you feel comfortable, the best way to get your hands on these items for free is to borrow. Chances are if you have a friend that has second-hand maternity clothes, she’ll likely sell it to you for a “friendly” price or even for free.
2. Rent Designer
If you want amazing quality for cheap, renting designer maternity clothing could be for you. But what if you’re the first one to have a baby among your group of friends? You can still find some secondhand maternity clothes in thrift stores. But if there are no secondhand shops in your area, the best option is going to rental stores online like MineForNine. You can borrow an item that costs $125 for $45 for a month.
3. Thrift and Shop Online
When I need clothes, I go to Goodwill or Thredup (my favorite online thrift store). They have limited maternity inventory but the prices are fantastic. Maternity consignment shops can also be found all around the country. If you want to try on physical goods before buying it, taking a look at consignment shops is worth considering.
Online sites such as Amazon, Target, and other big-name retailers usually have a huge selection of maternity clothes. You can find great deals and even clearances occasionally. Buying on these Big Box stores on the spot can cost more money but you can cut expenses by getting the Amazon Baby Registry & Target Baby Registery Bonuses for 15% off everything. Complete the steps to these baby registries and unlock freebies + discounts across the board. Make the preparations, stock up your shopping list, and check out with the 15% discount.
4. Social Media (Facebook Marketplace)
Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist are both go-to places for me. There are lots of moms on Facebook selling sell their pre-loved items for a fraction of the retail costs. I love these websites for bulk baby/toddlers clothes, cloth diapers, and secondhand furniture.
During my wife’s first pregnancy, she only bought a few stretchy pants and dresses. The rest of her clothing she wore during that time were any of my old shirts and second hand maternity dresses from Nexxt Door. That’s where we also got baby clothes and cloth diapers. It’s a great source to find them along with Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace.
Btw, how’s the pregnancy going along? Hopefully it’s going well!!
Lily | The Frugal Gene says
Hi Kris! Yes everything is spankingly awesome 😀 Oh yes, I used NextDoor for local doula suggestions so there’s def more resources out there. I’ll revamp with a longer list of resources that I skimmed over 🙂 thanks for the suggestion!