Most women start wearing maternity clothes when they begin to feel uncomfortable in their own tighter-fitting clothes. What stage in the pregnancy this will be is based on your individual needs and clothing style preferences. You get to decide when the time comes. There are no guiding rules, but there are some things to consider to help you prepare ahead to acquire new clothes.
Maternity clothes are not usually of main concern early in pregnancy. Some time soon after the first trimester most women will begin to think about maternity or larger size clothes. There are a few factors that will influence your specific timing to start wearing maternity clothes.
Understanding the normal increase in the size of your uterus is a good place to start in preparing for maternity clothes.
As your uterus grows consider the following:
Because of differences in body shapes, pre-pregnancy weight, and pre-pregnancy clothes styles, some women may not begin to feel uncomfortable in their clothes until after 16 weeks.
Bellies come in all sizes and shapes in pregnancy as they do before. If you are short you may find that your abdomen protrudes earlier because of your shorter belly.
If you are overweight or obese before pregnancy, or you tend to carry more weight around your belly, you may not "show" as early as someone with a thinner torso. However, overweight women tend to gain more weight than thinner women during pregnancy because of eating habits.
Whether your pre-pregnancy weight is normal or overweight, if you gain a lot of weight early in pregnancy, expect that your clothes might get tighter before the second trimester. In this case your pregnancy weight gain may become the deciding factor in how soon to get new clothes, not the size of your uterus.
While your uterus is growing your breasts are growing as well. Under the influence of your increased estrogen and progesterone hormones, your breasts will get heavier and larger.
Depending on the rate of growth you may start needing increasingly larger cup and bras sizes, and larger tops from the first trimester. Thankfully, maternity bras have multiple rows of hooks for extending the width as your chest circumference grows.
If you have more than one baby on board your uterus will be larger each week than if you have a single baby. It is likely that your clothes will get tighter earlier and you will begin to show earlier.
Every pregnancy is unique. You may gain more or less weight in a subsequent pregnancy (multigravida) than you did in your first (primigravida). Though a first time pregnancy tends to "show" later than your next pregnancies, be prepared that your need for maternity clothes may come sooner or later than your first.
Morning sickness, or her crueler sister hyperemesis gravidarum, can lead to weight loss early in the first trimester. The belly might be flatter because of less fat deposit so the need for maternity clothes may come later in the second trimester.
Maternity sizes allow for a growing abdomen. The sizes generally follow non-pregnant sizes. So if you wear size 8 clothes, expect to wear the same sizes in pregnancy, unless you gain a lot of weight during pregnancy.
After 20 weeks, when your uterus rises above your navel, you may find that you may have to go up a size or two depending on your weight gain.
Some women are not ready to wear maternity clothes in the first trimester for one reason or another. Some women throughout their pregnancy choose to wear larger or looser regular clothes, rather than maternity clothes. Certain styles can accommodate changing size needs from the first trimester to term, such as:
Your pre-pregnancy weight, your body shape, your growing uterus and breasts, and your pregnancy weight gain are some of the main factors that influence when you might choose to start wearing maternity clothes (or not). Being comfortable in your clothes throughout your pregnancy will be a good guide in making your own decision about when to start and what to wear.