Maternity Clothing Essentials for Expecting Moms

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When it’s time to shop for maternity clothes, consider a maternity capsule wardrobe. Many people associate the idea of a capsule wardrobe with minimalism. Or small closets and smaller clothing budgets. And there is some truth to those ideas. But at its core, a capsule wardrobe is simply a collection of essential classic clothing items that won’t go out of style. And these items can then be supplemented with a few seasonal pieces or more trendy items. Doesn’t that sound like the ideal plan for purchasing maternity clothing essentials?

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maternity clothes

Why You Need a Maternity Capsule Wardrobe

1. Pregnancy is Time Limited

By its very nature pregnancy is time limited. Anything you buy is only going to be worn for at most 6 to 7 months. Filling your closet with tons of maternity clothes is a waste of space, time, and money.

2. The Classics Will Never Go Out of Style

If you choose your maternity clothes with an eye towards classic items that won’t be going out of style you can save and store your clothes to wear during your next pregnancy. Or even to pass on to a friend.

If you buy pieces that can be layered, you can even make your maternity clothes work during multiple seasons if your next pregnancy due date is at a different time of the year.

3. It’s Easy on the Budget

Maternity clothes can be expensive. Which is a real bummer when you consider the short amount of time they are going to fit you. Spend your money wisely on a few pieces you can wear throughout your pregnancy, rather than a ton of tops or dresses you will wear once or twice.

I will admit to wearing maternity clothes long after my babies were born. The comfort of those elastic waist jeans was hard to give up. But at some point, you’ll want to be back to wearing non-maternity clothes. So, you don’t want to blow the budget on maternity dresses and elastic waist jeans you won’t be able to wear in a few months after your baby is born.


Maternity Clothes Essentials

Now, the truth is I am not a minimalist. Or an expert on capsule wardrobes. And I don’t think you need to be either if it’s not YOU. I’m just a mom who didn’t want to spend too much money or effort on maternity clothes. So, I tried to keep my purchases to the essentials.

What are the Essentials of a Maternity Wardrobe?

maternity pants

1. Maternity Yoga Pants

I consider yoga pants to be an essential part of any wardrobe, maternity, capsule, or otherwise. But they are an absolute must-have for pregnancy. Try on a few pair and see what you like. I prefer a low belly band or rolled waistband to a secret belly, but you may feel differently.

Even if you’re working throughout your pregnancy you’ll be glad to change into comfortable pants at home. And these maternity yoga pants will be your body’s best friend in the early postpartum days. You can wear them during the day, at night, and everywhere you go and still be considered dressed.

Maternity yoga pants are also great for workouts during your pregnancy.

maternity jeans

2. Maternity Jeans

Get a good pair of maternity jeans. At least one. Although I love the stretch and comfort of yoga pants, you want to have something a little nicer for eating out or seeing friends without having to wear a dress.

I vastly prefer the low belly band maternity pants that sit under your bump to the secret belly style. But I have friends who felt the opposite, so try on a few pairs before you commit.

maternity bra

3. Bras & Underwear

You expect your belly to grow during pregnancy but you may be surprised at your breasts’ desire to keep pace with your growing belly bump!

Don’t spend your pregnancy in misery. Buy some bras with growing room and some comfortable underwear. I didn’t actually buy maternity underwear, I used low waisted undies that fit under the bump. But find what works for you.

maternity top

4. Maternity Tops

This is where you can have the most fun! Buy yourself 4 to 6 maternity tops you love! You can get through the early months in your stretchier regular tops. But if you do it too long they will end up too stretched out to wear after your baby arrives (I ruined several shirts this way!).

It’s a good idea to get a mix of sleeve lengths. Chances are your pregnancy will occur over multiple seasons. Sleeveless and short sleeve tops can be layered in the colder months and keep you cool in the hot ones.

Choose solid colors or neutral prints that will match most of your bottoms so you can mix and match.

And I highly recommend buying at least a few maternity tops that double as nursing tops and can be worn in the early days postpartum.

maternity jacket

5. Jacket or Sweater

No matter what time of the year you’re pregnant there will be times you need a jacket or sweater. Layered over your maternity tops, a jacket or sweater can carry you through most temperatures.

I never bought a maternity coat. But I was never pregnant in winter (October due dates for both of my kids). So, I wore a jacket or sweater over a top and my pre-pregnancy coat unbuttoned. Maybe you can make this work. But if not- buy a maternity coat! Keep that bump warm.

maternity dress

6. One Great Dress

Unless you work in an office where dressy attire is expected, you probably don’t wear a dress every day. But no matter how casual your style, it’s a good idea to have a maternity dress in your pregnancy wardrobe.

Maybe you’ll attend a friend’s wedding or a class reunion, or anyplace you want to look and feel your best. And during pregnancy, you often don’t FEEL your best. So give yourself a boost. Get a great maternity dress. If nothing else, wear it to your baby shower so your pictures will be fabulous!

maternity skirt

7. Stretchy Skirts

During each of my pregnancies, there was one stretchy black skirt I wore every day of my last month. A stretchy skirt can be dressed up or down. You can make it appropriate for work or at home, almost anywhere you need to go.

And best of all, a stretchy skirt can be insanely comfortable! Way more than jeans. Or even yoga pants when your pregnancy is advanced enough. These are a true essential maternity item.

maternity leggings

8. Leggings

If you plan to rock the stretchy maternity skirts during your pregnancy it’s a good idea to invest in some maternity leggings. You can use them under your stretchy skirts in the colder months. Or to make shorter skirts office appropriate.

Leggings can also double as workout clothes or pajamas if they’re comfortable enough.

maternity workout

9. Workout Clothes

In most cases exercise during pregnancy is safe and healthy for you and the baby. But definitely, check with your doctor about your unique situation.

If you’re going to workout, make sure you have comfortable maternity workout clothes. You can probably pull from other parts of your maternity wardrobe for your exercise clothes. Your yoga pants or leggings, and a sleeveless maternity top can probably do for workout wear. But you may need a maternity sports bra.

And if you’re a serious runner or another type of athlete, make sure your clothes are safe and comfortable for your particular sport.

maternity pajamas

10. Sleepwear

Maybe you sleep in an old t-shirt and sweatpants. Or maybe you wear a nightgown or those button front flannel sets everyone always wears on television shows. Regardless, you will want some version of your usual sleepwear in a maternity or pregnancy-friendly style so that you can sleep comfortably.

And for many women, with the sore boobs and the ever-expanding breast size that comes along with pregnancy, you may want to sleep in a bra or nursing tank that provides some extra support.

What Did I Miss?

Let’s hear from you, mamas! Do you agree or disagree with my list? Did I leave something out that you loved during pregnancy? Let us hear about it in the comments!

Check Out These Other Posts You May Like:

15 Practical Ways to Prepare for Baby

Breastfeeding Essentials Every Nursing Mom Needs

Expert Breastfeeding Advice for New & Expecting Moms

Maternity Clothes You Really Need


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11 thoughts on “Maternity Clothing Essentials for Expecting Moms”

  1. I think your list is excellent. It’s been 28 years since I was pregnant and 35 years since my first pregnancy, but I can tell you that you pregnant women today have such a greater choice. OMG. Maternity clothing was just hideous when I was pregnant–but the good thing about that was I had to be creative.

    I lived in leggings throughout all my pregnancies due to the stretch. I also wore many of my husband’s button-down collar shirts–especially the ones he wore for work. The oversized white shirts looked very crisp with the black leggings.

    In addition, I lived in ballet flats. I think it is a good idea for pregnant women to invest in a very good pair of flats. Might I suggest Repetto’s? The brand is made in France and the leather and workmanship is excellent.

    One other thing I would like to suggest–it isnt clothing but it is such an important suggestion and my doctor was the one who suggested this. Buy a rubber mattress cover for your bed. If your water breaks when you are in bed, the mattress will be destroyed. I listened to him, made the purchase and my water broke with my first child when I was in bed!! And boy–did it break!!!! That rubber mattress cover was the greatest item we could have bought.

  2. This is wonderful. That was definitely one of the most frustrating things while pregnant.especially the first time, I didn’t know where to start when it came to what I’d need for my changing body.

  3. Yes, I absolutely agree with your selection of “must haves.” I was lucky enough to find pieces that I could wear during and after pregnancy too, such as a wrap around sweater (I can just wrap it around a little more when not pregnant) and a lovely dress I wore to a wedding, that was cut in such a way as it didn’t “look” like a maternity dress. I didn’t follow a capsule-specific plan when I was pregnant, but I did only spend money on very specific pieces like mentioned above (either new or gently used from a consignment store). To fill out my maternity wardrobe I got hand me downs from family members or friends, for things that were too worn for them to consign but still in wearable condition for around the house. Especially with my second pregnancy, I needed a good amount of around the home clothes because I had a toddler who got me pretty messy (she was at the stage of using mommy’s clothes as napkins and tissues).

  4. I think Maternity clothes have come a long ways. These are cute and practical the sale prices on some of these are amazing! Great post. ❤️

  5. This is a great round up! I find I can buy styles these days that work for pregnancy and post. So I keep a lot of my dresses and tanks in the closet. I love some good tops and jeansthough.

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