Maternity Must Haves

Maternity Must HavesBelly Jelly / Jean Jacket / Tank / Maxi Skirt / Sandals / Maxi Dress / Tights / Booties / Jewelry / Cardigan / Tee / Belt / Dress / Boots / Jeans

Maternity clothing. Do you feel the dread? I know in the past I have. I thought it would be a fun to put together some of my core maternity items to share with any new moms out there or for any of you that are wanting to update your maternity style. I have learned lessons the hard way, particularly during my first pregnancy, when I went to one store and did all of my shopping in one afternoon.

Lessons Learned: There are actually four trimesters to dress for. Did you know that? I sure didn’t with babe #1 and was greatly frustrated when I came from the hospital with little options of what to wear. My advice: Plan on layering and using the same basics throughout your pregnancy and post-pardum (fourth trimester). Use what you have in your closet already. Don’t get caught up in a sales person’s helpfulness and purchase too much.

My first pregnancy (baby born in December) I felt frumpy. I wore what I had purchased on that one day shopping trip and towards the end none of it fit. AT. ALL.  Second pregnancy (baby born in June) I learned how to wear layers and utilize much of what was already in my closet. I liked that I was dressing the way I wanted to and was happy to get dressed each day. Third pregnancy (baby due in January)- I used the same ideas from second pregnancy and also discovered maxi dresses and skirts! (Seriously the best ever!!) The word ‘pretty’ would actually cross my mind when I looked in the mirror.  And I would get random compliments about being one of those ‘cute’ pregnant women. But the truth is, I looked the same  in the third pregnancy as I did in the first.  The difference was that I had discovered how to dress for the belly. So I am sharing my research of trial and error with you in hopes that it will save you money and bring you some ‘pretty’ days!

First Trimester: I like to call this stage the “cheeseburger belly.” For the most part you can wear your regular clothes. Do not go out and buy maternity wear if things start to get tight! You will grow out of them way to quickly. Instead look for loose flowy tunic tops to cover up your tiny belly.  If your pants get too tight look for a waist extender or find a pair of inexpensive shorts/pants that have an elastic waist.  Yoga pants are also awesome during this time!

  • Belly Jelly to keep the tummy from itching. I can attest that I have NO STRECTH MARKS after three times of being pregnant. (Big babies too!) In high school I did get stretch marks during a growth spurt (on my legs) so I know I am capable of having them. This stuff is awesome! I use 3-4 cans per pregnancy, usually starting at the beginning of the second trimester.
  • Comfortable undergarments. At a certain point you won’t be able to stand anything tight on your body. For me this means a larger sized bra (and I only purchase under-wire free now) and Hanes Bikini panties that I mentioned in the what to pack for the hospital post.
  • Also be sure and get some maternity tights! I love the opaque ones (black again) from Old Navy. Surprisingly much more comfortable than you would expect!
  • Body Pillow. This will make you sleep so much better in the second and third trimesters! I know they have some that are specifically for pregnancy, but I like mine just fine and it isn’t so huge that your husband has to sleep in another bed!

Second & Third Trimester:

  • Long and Lean Tanks or Liz Lange Maternity Tanks, both from Target. These will serve you well in all trimesters (I still keep them as a layering staple in my closet when I am not pregnant) but you will find them particularly useful in trimesters 2-4. A must for nursing as well! Black is the color I recommend. Be sure and match to the Tissue Tee listed below.
  • Long Sleeve Tissue Tees from Target. These will layer over the top of your tanks for warmth in the colder months. As mentioned above, you want to get a matching color to the tanks to keep your layering discreet. This is particularly useful when you are out and about and nursing. I never use a cover and no one notices me nursing… this is my magic trick! So, again, black is the color I recommend.

** You only wear black clothes the entire time you are pregnant?**

Good question! No, but they are the primary staple that I wear under almost everything. Black is very flattering to the baby bump and will look nice with almost any color layered over the top. A white/white combo is my second go-to favorite!

  • Full panel maternity jeans. You will need 2-3 pairs depending on how often you wash. I get two in a couple of sizes (have I mentioned that I gain about 60 pounds when I am pregnant? I haven’t yet delivered a 50 pound baby… so it goes elsewhere on me!) I have bought jeans from just about everywhere and other than the awesome score I found one lucky day at TJMaax, I have to say for the money Old Navy is where you need to go. And if you are tall like I am they offer talls!
  • Leggings. Many, many retailers offer leggings. And they are so comfy and cute. I like them best in the fourth trimester when I can wear an oversized sweater/shirt on top until my regular jeans fit again. Word to the wise- Leggings are not pants- especially when you are pregnant! Cover your rear! ;)
  • Maxi skirts and dresses. By far the most comfortable thing you could purchase! I am not really a skirt gal (love my jeans!) when I am not pregnant, but I think I might be after last summer when I wore them every day. You seriously feel like you are wearing your pajamas, but look super cute at the same time! I would wear a maxi skirt with a long and lean tank in the second trimester (sometimes layering a chambray shirt or jean jacket on top) almost every day. I bought 3 maxi skirts and three dresses, all from JCPenney and Target. The maxi dresses will come in handy any time you want to dress up. I wore the swim cover up maxi dress (Target) to a wedding and with some jewelry looked as formal as anyone else. I grew out of my maxi skirts after the second trimester, but the dresses still fit beautifully. I expect to be wearing the skirts again after baby is born during the fourth trimester.
  • Short fitted dresses. Hubby loved this one dress in particular. I would wear it with tall boots and layer a jean jacket if needed on cool days. These fitted dresses are fantastic in your second trimester when you have that perfect sized bump to show off!
  • Short empire waist dresses. I have a non-maternity dress from Maurices that I have had for ages that I keep as a staple (pregnant or not) to wear to more dressy events such as church and funerals. Look for a good fit just under the bust and flare from there.  My dress is short sleeve and during the winter months I layer a tissue tee underneath and a long grey wool sweater on top.
  • Belts. You need belts! When you can find a stretchy non-maternity top that will fit your bump it finishes perfectly with a belt. The belt helps define your bust from the belly and is a great way to pop a color or tie in with your shoes/handbag.
  • Jewelry. During the summer in particular I was sure to always have a statement necklace or lightweight scarf on with my Long and Lean tank. This will bring the eye up towards the face and gives you a chance to make the same outfit look differently.
  • Cardigans. I use non-maternity cardigans as well as a few that are maternity. My favorites are the non-maternity ones though because they are smaller than your belly. So you have your cute baby bump sticking out and the rest of you covered in the cardigan. Magic trick to instantly make you look slimmer!!!  PS- Wear a belt over the cardi!
  • Jean Jacket/Chambray shirt. These layer wonderfully just like the cardigans do. And they are lighter weight for summer/fall months when you don’t need the warmth. I love that they are neutral as well so you can wear them with just about anything.
  • Yoga pants/ Sweat pants. Yoga pants should be the fold over top, and sweat pants should have a nice wide band.
  • Shoes. I know many a fashionista that rocked her high heels while pregnant. (Kudos to you if that is you!)  Especially after you have your first (and are chasing/carrying said toddler) you will find flat or stable shoes are a must. I love my tall riding boots, slip on loafers, booties, sandals, and flip flops. Ugg style boots would also be great.

Fourth Trimester: Initially you will still be wearing your maternity clothes. Be prepared to leave the hospital looking 5 months pregnant. I was so surprised at this when I delivered our first! My mom went home wearing her pre-pregnancy clothes… so I assumed I would as well. And although that sometimes does happen I think it is more of an exception than a rule. For this pregnancy I did end up ordering the Belly Bandit for post-pardum compression. I will let you all know what I think of it after I try it out for the six weeks they recommend.

  • For nursing: Keep wearing those Long and Lean tees with a Tissue Tee over the top. As I mentioned above I will post after baby is here about how I use these to nurse without a cover and still be discreet. I don’t have one of these necklaces, but am hoping to get one. And I can’t stress enough- underwire free nursing bras.
  • For pumping: (Unfortunately I am an expert at pumping, I exclusively pumped for 9 months with our first.) You need this bra and the car adapter for your pump. Here’s to multi-tasking!!!

What you don’t need to buy:

  • A maternity coat. Unless you live in Canada and then I might forgive you. Maternity coats are a marketing ploy if you ask me. Layer up and if you can button one button, then call it good!
  • Pajamas. Raid the hubby’s closet. An oversized t-shirt and a pair of shorts will get you through. :)

If you want some more style inspiration please check out my Maternity Style Pinterest Board.  Over 100 pins that will send you to where I have purchased from and/or outfit inspiration.

Third Trimester Winter Maternity

Here is a current photo of me and the babe!  We have tried two weekends in a row to take some family photos with the belly and it hasn’t worked out either time.  Since it snowed I thought it would be good to hop out the back door and snap a photo just in case this little boy comes before we get our family shoot done.  I practice what I preach!  Wearing the Tissue Tee, Old Navy Jeans, and Forever 21 Cardi (belted).  Simple and chic.

And my question for you…  What are your thoughts about getting the obligatory ‘MomChop’ haircut after baby?


  1. Jenn says:

    First of all, you look beautiful :) And second, thank you for this post! I hate looking for maternity clothes! So many of them are so, just like you said, “frumpy.” I made a rule for myself this time around. If I wouldn’t wear it while not pregnant, I was going to keep looking for other options no matter how frustrated I was from shopping. I had trouble finding cute places to buy from. I love your suggestions! I am worried a bit about post prego dressing (I don’t feel like I did a great job last time) so this is super helpful! Thank you for the amazing post and great links to products :)

  2. Janalin says:

    Thank you Jenn!! Cute is hard in the maternity section but I think that it is getting easier to find fashionable pieces than it used to be. Target is a gold mine (and cheap!) xo

  3. Mandy says:

    The hubs & I were just talking about the hair chop the other day.

    • Janalin says:

      The classic hair chop will not be happening ever again. I will post at some point the good, the bad and the ugly. Wait. I’m not sure there was a good. LOL!

  4. Love that you can rock so many clothes you already own with your bump. Have to love looser clothing being in style! I think you look great!

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