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Shopping for maternity clothing gave me headaches so strong the first time around that only a large ice cream cone and order of fries could resolve it. Over the years and the pregnancies I've learned what crucial maternity garments a pregnant woman really needs, and I've left the rest behind to rot in department store hell.
My maternity wardrobe is really, really limited. I only have a few key pieces that make the rest of my normal wardrobe wearable. The only exception I have is my embarrassing secret purchase, which I'm still embarrassed about and still need to break out halfway through each pregnancy.
In the interest of full disclosure, I'm fairly average in size normally. I'm not overweight and I'm not petite. I have an apple-shaped body, so I often wear longer shirts or flowy dresses that show off my long legs. While pregnant, I range between heffalump and whale, depending on what day you catch me and how loud I huff and puff getting off the floor. I embrace all the sizes of my body because seeing what a body can do and how a body can change is fascinating and beautiful.
Here are 5 maternity garments, the only crucial pieces, that you need to make it through a pregnancy:
1. Maternity leggings
Leggings have been in for at least 8 years now, and they are the answer to every pregnant woman's needs. They don't dig into your belly, and they allow you the freedom to wear basically any longer shirt with them. Since I'm normally someone who wears leggings, I wear my pre-pregnancy tunics with a pair of maternity leggings while pregnant and an outfit is born.
Splurge: Ingrid & Isabel Seamless Belly Leggings, $48
Save: GAP supersoft leggings, $29.95
2. Maxi Dress
I'm pregnant through the winter this time, but I have still worn my maternity maxi dress on a few occasions. It's comfy, it's easy to throw on after a night of pregnancy insomnia, and I look put together. When I was pregnant with Raffi, who was born during a hot September, I wore maxi dresses every single day. Some days I even slept in them.
Splurge: Rosie Pope Maternity Kendal Dress, $128
Save: Old Navy Maternity Maxi Tank Dress, $30
3. Maternity jeans
I kind of hate jeans even on a regular basis, but there are always occasions where leggings won't work, and a dress is too dressy. Enter the maternity jean. Most friends wear theirs for a few months postpartum thanks to the generous stretch and comfort they provide.
Splurge: Citizens of Humanity 'Kelly' Maternity Bootcut Stretch Jeans, $180
Save: Maternity Bootcut Denim Jeans Liz Lange for Target, $34.99
4. Long tanks
I can wear most of my pre-pregnancy shirts the entirety of my pregnancy as long as I pair it with a long maternity tank underneath. I have about 6 of these that I rotate, and I wear them like undershirts. I can't remember a day since that positive HPT where I didn't wear an extra long ribbed tank. I have a few long tanks that are specifically marketed as maternity, and a few tanks that are simply extra long.
Splurge: Ingrid & Isabel Seamless Ruched Tank, $42
Save: Old Navy Maternity Ribbed Tank, $10
5. One dressy dress
Ugh. We did not plan our timing very well this time around. One of my husband's very best friends in the whole world is getting married 4 days before my due date. If I don't have a third child by then, I will be in attendance. I feel so lucky that the world of fancy maternity dresses has opened up tremendously, offering the change for even us preggies to feel beautiful. I own several fancy maternity dresses, as we've attended countless weddings with similar guests while I've been rocking my bump.
Here is one option I love: Maternity T-Shirt Dress (ASOS, $40)
That's my entire maternity wardrobe. There's no need to go crazy and invest in a lot of maternity clothing. Instead invest well in these basics, and you'll be happy for your whole pregnancy.
Sabrina, of RhodeyGirl Tests, had her first child in September 2011 with her husband Trig. At the time of this post her son was 3 years old (!!), her daughter was 21 months old, and she was 23 weeks pregnant with her third child. You can read other related posts on her blog.
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.