How to Choose Maternity Pants

Two Parts:Preparing to Shop for Maternity PantsPurchasing Maternity Pants

Most women can make it through the first three or four months of pregnancy without purchasing new clothing. As your belly expands, however, you will probably feel the need to buy some specially designed clothing. Maternity pants, in particular, will likely be a necessity.

Part 1
Preparing to Shop for Maternity Pants

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    Wait until you truly need maternity pants. You probably have some clothing in your closet that will see you through the first few months of your pregnancy. You may have loose-fitting dresses, for example, or pants with elastic waists. At a minimum, wait until the third month of your pregnancy – longer if possible. This will give you a better idea of how much weight you are gaining and how you are carrying the weight, increasing your odds of making smart clothing purchases.
    • Of course, you don’t want to wear clothing that is uncomfortably tight around your stomach. Once your regular clothes feel too restrictive, go ahead and purchase some maternity clothing.
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    Ask friends and relatives if you can borrow their maternity clothing. Most women only need maternity clothing for six months or so, so it’s wise to avoid spending money on it. Besides, you may gain more than you think you will and need to go up to a larger size. Therefore, if you have close friends or relatives who have recently given birth, consider asking if you can borrow their maternity pants.
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    Decide what you really need. Once you have outgrown your regular clothes and borrowed what you can from friends and family members, think about what you really need to get through the rest of your pregnancy comfortably. Most women can get by with two or three casual pairs of jeans or pants and one dressier option. If you choose carefully and find pants that will work in a variety of situations, there’s no need to purchase more than that.
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    Consider shopping at a second-hand clothing store. Many women sell their maternity pants to a second-hand clothing store after their children are born. In many cases, these garments were only worn once or twice (and sometimes never!). These stores will sell maternity pants for much better prices than standard department stores. And since you’ll need these items for such a short period of time, it makes sense to save as much as possible.

Part 2
Purchasing Maternity Pants

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    Understand how maternity pants are sized. In general, most maternity clothing is sized just as normal clothing is. In other words, if you usually purchased a “medium” or a size 8 before your pregnancy, you should look for maternity pants in those same sizes. This is even true for jeans and other pants that are sized in inches: if you wore a 28-inch waist before, you still do, even though your waist is now much bigger.
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    Know that you don’t have to sacrifice style. There are a wide variety of maternity pants on the market now – you can choose sporty ones or elegant ones, narrow-legged versions or wide-legged versions, and styles in every length and color. Choose something you genuinely like.
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    Choose the model that suits you best. In general, maternity pants come in three basic models:
    • Some have an elastic belt, which is broad and flexible and can adapt easily to your growing belly. Since the waist sits in the same place as regular pants, though, these are best for early pregnancy. Once your belly strains against the belt, discard them.
    • Some have a belt that is meant to fall below your navel. These pants do not sit tightly across your stomach, and so they are good for the middle of pregnancy. The only major problem with this type of maternity pants is that they tend to sit very low, and when you sit or bend, they may drop even lower. Test them to make sure the fit is good.
    • Some have a belt that sits above your belly. These have a large elastic band and cover your whole stomach; they are easy to adapt for all stages of pregnancy.
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    Look for pants that will last through your pregnancy. Pants with elasticated or adjustable waists and elastic side panels are likely to stretch best as your belly expands. Look for pants with a lot of spandex and elastane; these will adapt to your body and move with you as you grow.
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    Avoid pants that are very narrow in the legs. Don’t forget that your belly will not be the only part of you to expand – many pregnant women carry extra weight in their legs as well, and at the end of your pregnancy, you may have swollen calves and ankles. Keep this in mind when choosing maternity pants.
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    Find pants made of natural materials, like cotton. These pants are more comfortable, especially in the summertime. They “breathe” better and prevent excess sweating.
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    Try on the clothing before you buy it. Before you purchase some maternity pants, try them on. Walk around a little, and sit down to make sure they stay comfortable and don’t constrict your stomach. Bend and stretch to make sure that they stay in place. If the pants seem tight, do not buy them – remember, you will only get bigger.
    • You should also check the elastic, to make sure that it seems sufficiently stretchy. If it does not expand well, the pants will not last through your third trimester.
    • If you are ordering clothing online and cannot try on the pants, take your measurements and compare them to the sizing chart. The most important measurement is the one for your hips: measure the widest part of your hips in a circle with a cloth tape measure. When in doubt, choose the larger size.
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    Adjust the clothing as necessary. Take special care not to pull the pants too tightly around your waist. Adjust the waist so that they fit properly, and spread the belt to make it less bulky under your other clothing.


  • Always discard maternity clothing if it gets too tight. Your baby needs room to grow, and besides, pregnancy is uncomfortable enough without that additional layer of annoyance – find a bigger pair of pants, or wear a dress.
  • If you don’t like the way you look in maternity clothing, remember that pregnancy is very temporary. Many women feel frumpy and fat during this time, but there’s no reason to let it get you down. You are becoming a mother! Celebrate it and embrace your shape.

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Categories: Pregnancy | Jeans