15 tips for dressing through pregnancy and beyond – on a budget!

A few weeks ago Sandi from www.milkeyes.com and I swapped blogs for a day – you can read about her fantastic budget and empty-fridge friendly recipes here and be sure to check out her blog! She’s been nominated for the top 100 mum blogs on babble.com and is hoping to make blogging her bread and butter, so she can spend as much time as she can with her little boy, Hunter.
This is the article I posted up on her blog at the end of December.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding can be tough on a lady, there are such radical changes in your body – the body you have known for years now changes and does strange things. You may love it and embrace all those crazy happenings, but sometimes it might be a bit frustrating, especially when those changes compromise the thing we often hold dear – our waistline!
Yes, there will be changes, but if you work with them you can have a lot of fun. I see it as an opportunity to wear a completely new wardrobe for a year or two. I am now in my 7th month of my 2nd pregnancy. I’m certainly no doyen when it comes to haute couture, but I have a lot of fun dressing up. I’m also a massive bargain hunter. It is extremely rare for me to spend any more than $30 on a piece of clothing, and that is a splurge! Being a bit of a tightarse can help during pregnancy and breastfeeding. You won’t be wearing these clothes for very long, so it’s important to be money savvy.
Here are some tips I’ve picked up along the way during my 2 pregnancies and my stint at breastfeeding.
Buy clothes throughout the pregnancy, not just at the start. You’ll be surprised just how round your belly might be by the end of the pregnancy and clothes that you thought would last you the whole way through may be tight at the 5 month mark! Buying throughout the pregnancy will ensure you don’t waste money on clothes that only fit for a few months.
As your ‘normal’ clothes start to get tight, put them in storage boxes and forget about them. Then, once you’ve had your little bub, you can be reunited with your lovely skinny clothes! Don’t lament if they don’t fit straight away, it could take quite a few months to get back into them. But every time a piece fits again it will feel great! 😀
$1 hipster underwear You can buy pairs of maternity underwear for $15 each – but you really don’t need them. Any hipster-style (low rise) cotton knickers are perfect. I’m a REAL cheapskate and will buy them for $1 each at places like BigW and Target when they’re on sale in big clearance bins.
Black is your friend, but so are crazy colours and patterns! It’s important to have a few basic pieces in black, it’s classic and can be worn anywhere. But colours are fun too! (OK – I’m starting to sound like someone on an Oprah make-over special – but you know I’m right. ;))
Accessories, jewellery, hair, make-up, nail-polish, shoes, hats! Naturally your pregnancy wardrobe will be smaller than your normal wardrobe so you may get bored . Accessories will save you from boredom, and they can continue to be used afterwards. I’m known for my ‘pieces of flair’ – necklaces, earrings, scarfs, glasses, brooches, rings etc. Playing around with make up and nail polish can make you feel more womanly and less of a frump!
Buy only a handful of ‘real’ maternity clothes. I found the best place for maternity clothing is Target and Kmart. They often have good sales where you can get blouses and leggings etc for about $20 or less. ‘Real’ maternity clothes are very handy in the last couple months of pregnancy. Clothes I have bought from maternity ranges are: thick maternity leggings singlets and cotton tops with ruching around the belly
Use clothes that you already have.Anything that is either full or floaty around the belly, the waist line sits above or below the belly or is naturally adjustable. You may find some things will fit perfectly until about 5-6 months. Once they don’t fit, then pop them into storage to wear again once the baby is born. These ‘semi-pregnancy’ clothes will be perfect for the first few months post-natal. Be aware some clothes may retain the stretched material so only wear them up until they’re not permanently stretched or surrender to the fact they may be stretched beyond repair and can be thrown out afterwards. This is fine for cheaper, seasonal styles. “Normal” clothes great for pregnancy include:

  • Cardigans, zip up sweaters, jackets etc (tops that can be worn open at the front)
  • Baby doll/high waisted dresses and tops
  • Wrap around clothing
  • Skirts with stretchy waistbands
  • Yoga pants
  • Business pants and jeans (with adjustments – see below)
  • Jersey cotton dresses – stretch wonderfully well over the bump!
  • Cheap t-shirts and singlets (but they will be permanently stretched!)
  • Pantyhose and stockings – when they get tight around the top cut through the waist band at the front with scissors.

Friends hand-me-downs, 2nd hand stores and sales. I was one of the first of my friends to have kids, so I didn’t get a chance to use this idea. But if you have friends of a similar size to you that have already had kids – go for it! Make sure you pass on the favour too. 2nd hand stores are always great for budget-friendly options, however, I do find that maternity-specific clothes can be hard to find. So it’s best to just look for ‘normal’ clothes that will accommodate the bump. Keep a good eye out during sale times in the ‘normal’ clothes section to find some great bargains. I found a $100 dress on sale for $10 that has done me well during both pregnancies.
Belly Belt, the rubber-band trick and DIY Belly band Belly Belts can be bought for about $20 and will make any skirt, pair of trousers or shorts with a button and zip into maternity clothes. It saved me hundreds of dollars on maternity pants – which are often the most expensive clothes. Holding pants together with safety pins can be used to extend the wear of pants for a short while. The rubber band trick is helpful when you first start to show – just tie one end to the button hole and loop it over the button. Make sure you wear a longer top to cover the open zip. http://www.bellybelt.com.au/BellyBelt_Home.html Belly bands are essentially a boob tube for your belly and are really helpful when you want to wear a shorter top that doesn’t cover your whole belly, or with pants with the zip undone (as above). Brands like Bonds sell them for over $25. You can either use a boob tube or I made mine out of a small black singlet that I cut the straps off. The singlet cost me $2 from a cheap clothing store.

Belts are your friend! A good belt could make an old hessian sack look stylish. They’re great for adding definition to tops and dresses, worn above the bump. I often buy mine from second hands stores and I use long thin scarfs or lengths of ribbon as belts too.
Breastfeeding tips: Now you’ve had the baby and if you breastfeed, you will need nigh-on instant access to your boobies at any given moment. Here’s what I found helpful last time.
Any clothes with easy boob access are breastfeeding clothes! Again, don’t spend too much on breastfeeding-specific clothes. They often look frumpy and boring anyway! Depending on how demure you intend to remain, button down blouses and dresses opening down the front, singlets and strappy dresses with access from the top or T-shirts pulled up from the bottom – all work really well. If you’re worried about excess flesh being spotted you can use a light muslin cloth draped over your shoulder when feeding. This is especially handy in summer when it’s way too hot to wear anything but a singlet!
Maternity bras and breastfeeding singlets Find pretty bras that are still very supportive. You’re going to see your bra maybe 10 times a day, and other people will too! So having lovely ones makes a big difference. I lived in breastfeeding singlets while nursing. They’re perfect for at home on a hot day, while napping or under another shirt. Wear a breastfeeding singlet with any top and it becomes a breastfeeding top! Just lift up the outer shirt and unclip the strap on the singlet. Unlike wearing a maternity bra, your belly is still covered so it makes it easier to feed in public.
Pyjamas (TMI time ladies) Your breasts may leak milk nigh on constantly for the first few months. You may need to wear nursing pads (disposable or otherwise) under your clothes during the day. You can wear a soft fitting sports bra or a breastfeeding singlet to bed with the pads slipped in, or I found sleeping topless with a waterproof bassinet protector and folded towel underneath me a lot better as it gives your nipples time to breathe.
Breastfeeding covers When starting out with breastfeeding it can take a while to get the bub attached onto the nipple. When out and about I found using a bunny rug or muslin cloth draped over my shoulders helped minimise the sheer amount of flesh being seen and calmed my daughter while she was feeding as too much visual stimulation distracted her. These don’t need to be baby-themed! You have to wear it, not the baby, so you can use a large scarf or pashmina or make your own using a square of gorgeous fabric.
Slings These aren’t technically clothes but they are worn! There are SO many places that sell these things now. I successfully used a sling to breastfeed practically hands free while shopping in supermarkets, walking along streets and through farmers markets. And no one even knew!