When Do I Start Wearing Maternity Clothes?

Every woman’s pregnancy journey will be different, but almost all women have a few consistent things they have to deal with. One of those things is dressing for your growing and changing body! With serious changes can come serious fashion and comfort issues, but we have the answers to all your questions.

The simple answer is, most women start wearing maternity clothes when they feel uncomfortable in their regular clothes. This point will come at different stages for every woman, but there are some specific things you can consider when deciding whether or not it’s time to take the plunge.

Your Uterus

The one thing that will definitely be growing for all women—the uterus! Knowing the uterus’ typical stages of growth during pregnancy will help you analyze where you are and what will make you the most comfortable. Here’s a breakdown of where your uterus should be (typically) at given times.

12 Weeks—the uterus just reaches the top of your pubic bone

14 Weeks—it reaches about two inches above your pubic bone

16 Weeks—the uterus is halfway between your pubic bone and your belly button

20 Weeks—it reaches your belly button

After 20 weeks, your uterus will steadily get bigger as you move along in your pregnancy. Around 14 weeks is where you may feel that your abdomen has grown, but most likely you won’t be showing yet, as most women don’t start showing until around 16 weeks. By week 20, most women will have switched to maternity—or at least loose-fitting—clothes.

Body Shape

Your body type or shape before pregnancy will be a pretty good indicator of how soon you’ll need to switch up your wardrobe to stay comfortable. For example, if you’re on the shorter side, your belly may start to protrude earlier that someone with a long torso. If you carried a little more weight pre-pregnancy, you may take more time to show. Knowing your own body type will help you predict the changes it will go through, although you’re bound to get some surprises along the way.

Weight Gain

As with everything in the stages of pregnancy, this varies. Certain women will gain more weight during their pregnancy than others, sometimes regardless of your pre-pregnancy size. Fat distribution plays a large part in this too, as women tend to gain weight in different places that will affect the clothes you want to wear. For example, if you tend to gain weight in your face or your legs, you may not need to switch to maternity clothes so soon.

Constipation and gassiness are also common during pregnancy, so you may need to make the switch as early as during your first trimester if you find yourself extra bloated.

Other Factors

Because of the increased progesterone and estrogen levels in your body during pregnancy, your breasts will get larger and heavier fairly fast. You may need to buy maternity clothes for your chest before you need to buy them for your abdomen! The great thing about most maternity bras, however, is that they have several rows of hooks, so you don’t have to buy a new one every time you go up a size.

Of course, if you’re carrying more than one baby, your timeline will be entirely different—and nearly twice as fast. But you can still take these things into consideration when you’re anticipating your clothing needs!

If you experience a lot of morning sickness early on in your pregnancy, you may actually lose weight before you gain it. This will make buying maternity clothes (at least for your abdomen area) unnecessary for a longer period of time.

Maternity clothes must have been invented by a pregnant women, because they’re pretty easy to translate to your size! If you were a size eight pre-pregnancy, then typically you’d be a size eight in maternity clothes.


Alternatively, if you’re putting off buying a whole closet of new clothes, there are still things you can wear well into your third trimester. Go for loose, a-line dresses that flare out, dresses with an empire waist or sheath dresses made out of stretchy fabric. Also opt for pants or skirts with elastic waistbands, so you can wear them above or below your abdomen depending on your needs. Lastly, loose-fitting t-shirts or flowy blouses will be kinder to your chest area!

When you make the switch to maternity clothes will differ from a lot of women, but just remember that it’s all about your comfort. You’ll know when it’s time!

For more more information and maternity care every step of the way, contact Regional Medical Center today.