It was difficult for April Bird, 38, to find the plus-size maternity clothes she needed during her pregnancy.
She ended up turning to leggings from LulaRoe that came in three sizes designed to fit the size range 2 to 10, 12 to 18, and then 18 and over. Though the leggings weren’t maternity specific, Bird, who is the mother of two sons, 11 and 2, and a daughter, 10, said they adjusted with her changing body. For maternity-related items, she turned to Motherhood Maternity for breastfeeding shirts.
“Leggings were my life,” Bird said, describing how she would pair them with shirts in larger sizes that were empire waist or larger tunic dresses.
“Plus-sized women in need of maternity clothes have trouble finding them, for one, and if we do find them, they’re usually frumpy and not stylish,” Bird said of her search for clothing during her pregnancy. “It was frustrating.”
Christa Melotti, 35, usually shops at a mix of stores such as Nordstrom, Lord & Taylor, and Zara for work attire and doesn’t mind paying more than $100 for a pair of business professional pants that fit well.
But while Melotti, of Malvern and mother of two daughters, 2 and 4, was pregnant. she didn’t want to spend even $80 on maternity clothing that she needed but would fit into for only about eight weeks
“I definitely wanted to spend less on the maternity clothes just because it was going to be only for a short amount of time,” she said. “It wasn't something I could wear over and over again.”
She searched for affordable maternity clothes that met the business professional standards of her investment management company, but kept finding a surplus of leggings and skinny jeans, instead. When she would find black work pants on sale that weren’t ideal, but “good enough,” she would settle and buy them.
“I did not like the style options. They were really unflattering,” Melotti said of a lot of maternity clothing options. “I didn’t feel as confident as I usually do in something that I don’t really feel great in.“
Amanda Parashar, 36, and mother of two boys, 4 and 4 months old, bought maternity clothes second-hand from thrift stores or the Facebook marketplace for $5 or $10 an item and would also sew her own clothes while she was pregnant.
She said she had a “really good community of moms” who are “reusing and recycling maternity clothes."
“I actually just gave all my maternity clothes away to other moms I know who are pregnant in my community,” she said. “You’re going to wear them for such a short amount of time, they’re not going to get totally used so that you can’t share them someone else.”
For all of her three pregnancies, Enidza Ott, 34, avoided maternity-specific clothes as long as possible. When she was pregnant during the summer, it was easier to get away with buying a maxi dress in a larger size. But for her most recent pregnancy, it was winter and she needed a pair of maternity jeans, leggings and a couple sweaters.
“I had to wear maternity at some point, but I didn’t like what I found,” she said, describing maternity-specific clothes as “frumpy and not fashionable.” Ott has two sons, ages 5 and 5 weeks, and a 3-year-old girl.
On ASOS, she found “beautiful dresses, cheap, comfortable, flattering, and they have a great return policy,” she said. “So what I used to do is buy 2, 3 sizes of the same style and send back the ones that didn’t fit.”
When pregnant, she wanted to have her same style. “That’s why I like ASOS so much,” she said. “Because I feel like they hit that mark for me.”
As a retail manager, Jennifer Wilson would interact with customers throughout the day. If she was wearing more form-fitting clothes, people would bring up her pregnancy. But if she wore looser clothes, she could tell people were thinking she may be pregnant but were too nervous to bring it up.
So she felt more confident wearing tight clothes that showed off her bump instead of hiding inside of a baggy shirt and leggings. She stopped by the Destination Maternity in the mall a couple times, but wasn’t very excited about the options. She ended up just buying stretchier, normal clothes for most of her pregnancy, wore leggings from her store, and shopped at Pink Blush for a dress to wear to her baby shower.
Wilson has one 11-year-old stepdaughter and a 2-month-old son.
“I only got things I could wear after I delivered, as well, because I didn’t want to be stuck with items I would never wear again,” Wilson said.
After going to at least five stores, including Macy’s Motherhood Maternity and Target, in search for a baby shower dress, Krista Trullender, 34, remembers crying to her mother out of frustration.
“We could not find just one dress that I felt comfortable in or that I liked,” she said. “There weren’t many options.”
Trullender, whose daughter was born in October, said this wasn’t the first time she could not find maternity clothes she liked. As a court service officer trainee, Trullender struggled to find the type of business professional clothes that were required when working in a courthouse.
During her pregnancy, she ended up buying a size up in normal dresses from Old Navy, a couple maternity-specific items from Target, and some shirts from LuLaRoe that were not pregnancy specific but worked well.
Throughout her pregnancy, Lauren Thomas, 32, used the subscription service Le Tote to rent clothes as her body changed.
Instead of wearing a size up in normal clothes that didn’t seem to fit her bump right, or flared out because they were not designed for a pregnant body, Thomas said, she was able to pick maternity-specific options through Le Tote and changed them up as her bump grew.
Thomas, who worked with the district on ways to improve school climate and culture, stayed at her job until she gave birth to her daughter, who recently turned 1. Le Tote, she said, gave her plenty of options for clothes. The current memberships start at $79 a month for the classic plan and $89 for maternity.
“The biggest thing was just not wanting to spend money. When I shop, I tend to be really practical … which is why my nightmare is shopping for maternity — things that would only last a few months,” she explained. “That was the fun thing about the rentals, seeing that the maternity designed sweaters and blouses actually fit your bump. ... I could tell they were designed for that purpose, but again, I didn’t have to spend the money, which was nice.”
Lindsay Mill, 29, bought most of her maternity clothes from a small thrift store that ended up closing toward the end of her pregnancy. Mill preferred shopping in person to see how clothes would fit. There was no Motherhood Maternity nearby, Target and Kohl’s had too small of a selection, and although Boscov’s had some items, she thought they were too expensive.
She had a difficult time finding appropriate clothes for her job, and had two pairs of business casual pants that she would alternate wearing. She worked up until the Friday before she gave birth.
Mill, whose son is almost 2, would advise expectant women not to be afraid of online shopping the way she was.