Maternity Clothes for Plus-Sized Women

For a long time, pregnant women of all sizes felt the need to hide themselves in oversized clothing, tracksuits and pajamas. But with more and more women embracing their pregnant bellies (thanks in part to the recent fascination with celebrity pregnancies), you would imagine there would be more selection in the way of maternity clothes.

And while this is a growing trend, for the 30% of women who fall into the "plus-sized" variety (size 16+), the options are often few and far between. What selection does exist usually comprise a blend of floral patters, t-shirts equipped with kitschy sayings (such as "Am I glowing yet?" or "Baby This Way") and babyish patterns (teddy bears, anyone?).

So for voluptuous women who are looking to show off their wonderful shape without losing their personality, what options are available?

Issues Facing Plus-Sized Women

Because many larger women tend to experience a lesser degree of weight gain during pregnancy (usually about 15 pounds), some may not even need to purchase a new wardrobe. Indeed, due to financial restrictions or lack of availability, some women have opted to not purchase any new clothing at all during pregnancy.

If however, you feel you will require, or simply want, clothing to accommodate your pregnancy, don’t worry: there are options available.

Some women recommend simply buying regular clothes in larger sizes, not only because true plus-sized maternity clothing can be hard to find, but also because they are notoriously over-priced.

However, while this strategy may work during early pregnancy, many women will find that by their 7th month or so, it is difficult to find clothing to fit their waistline without falling off the shoulders and lower back. Also, since clothing that is too big for you tends to be big everywhere (not just your bust and tummy) many women feel such clothing only makes them look as if they’ve gained weight – not like they’re pregnant.

But if you are still resistant to purchasing maternity clothing, some plus-sized fashionistas suggest that you invest in a few key pieces that will carry over into the post-pregnancy phases, such as: over-sized track suits (with drawstring waists) for lounging, and empire waistlines on tops and dresses for more formal occasions.

The general rule of thumb, however, is to stick with what you like. If you wear jeans, continue to wear jeans. Don’t just buy something because you think it might fit. Wearing clothing that makes you feel comfortable is the key to keeping a positive body image during your pregnancy.

When it comes to bras, on the other hand, many full-figured women will find they need to purchase a new bra size several times in their pregnancy. However, nursing bras should not be purchased until mid-way through the third trimester, since that is when your size will generally start to plateau. Nursing bras with extendable attachments are also a good idea, since your bra size will likely go up again after your baby is born.

Whether or not you will need to purchase underwear, on the other hand, will depend on your body type. Some women find that sticking to regular bikini-style underwear is sufficient while others do need to buy new underwear altogether. In any case, try to stick to cotton underwear, as pregnant women are generally more susceptible to bladder and vaginal infections, which can be brought on by synthetic materials.

Where to Find Plus-Sized Maternity Clothes

The good news is that while much progress has yet to be made in the plus-size maternity marketplace, there are still more options available now then ever before. In addition to various specialty stores that focus solely on either maternity wear for all women or specifically on plus size maternity clothes, many of the major retailers and department stores will have sizes and sections for the voluptuous mama.

If you’re on a tight budget, on the other hand, you may want to check out your local consignment stores. These stores generally feature "pre-loved" maternity wear, and can be the best bang for your buck – where you can find them, that is. You may be encouraged to re-consign the clothing after you have worn them, depending of course on their condition.

For those who are handy with a sewing machine, you may just opt to make your own clothes. There are a variety of designer patterns for plus-sized women available for order in-store and on-line.

And stick with good-quality clothing, maternity or otherwise. Having fewer garments of greater quality means extending their life beyond pregnancy itself. Just get used to doing laundry, as you’ll likely need to wash the few outfits you have frequently during this time!


Do you have pregnancy questions? Talk with other moms-to-be in the forum


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