Maternity, Postpartum & Nursing Clothes On A Budget

So, you’re pregnant! Congratulations. There are so many incredible things about pregnancy that make your world so exciting, hopeful and happy. Growing a baby inside of you is one of the most miraculous things a woman can experience.

However, there are also many frustrating things about being pregnant. One of those things is that your body change in huge ways in a very short amount of time. When I was pregnant, I felt like as soon as I had a small selection of clothes that fit well, my body changed instantly!

And, though it comes as a shock to most women, after having the baby you don’t go right back to your pre-pregnancy body, which means you’ll need some clothes that will be comfortable and fit well during your postpartum period as well (Pro tip: The clothes that fit during your 1st trimester will likely fit well when you are postpartum!)

It can be a really huge financial burden to find clothes that fit during pregnancy that you actually feel good in. I know some women don’t have as dramatic of a change, depending on their body shape and weight. But regardless of your shape and size, you WILL need to have some different clothing options than you had before you were pregnant.

If you’re a girl like me with a limited income and a desperate need for clothes that fit that bump, look no further! Here is my list of ideas to get you through your pregnancy on a budget.

1. Leggings/Yoga Pants

These items are magical from the very beginning. In the first trimester when you’re not showing but just feeling really bloated, it’s time to whip out the leggings and yoga pants that you usually only wear when you’re hanging out at home. 

When you get bigger and the waistbands of your regular pants start rolling down, the best part about stretchy pants is that you can buy a bigger size and they won’t look too baggy! It depends on the brand and style, but it’s really easy to find leggings and yoga pants that fit well on the legs but sport a very stretchy and forgiving waistband.

My favorite leggings during pregnancy were Lularoe! They have a huge waistband that can either be folded down or stretched over the entire bump. My favorite yoga pants were from Walmart. I can’t remember the brand, but they had one fabric on the legs and then a different fabric on the band, which can be folded down or stretched over the belly just like the Lularoe leggings. Both of these styles are perfect for postpartum as well.

2. Tunics

During my 1st pregnancy, I was amazed at how many items I could make use of as my body changed. I had some bigger tunics and blouses that were just too baggy or long to look good before pregnancy, but as soon as I got that bump I tried them on and BAM they looked incredible! It also works to look for things in the plus size section that have more fitted sleeves, or just look for tunics or shirts that are supposed to be worn with leggings. Really short and swingy dresses work as maternity shirts as well!

When you are postpartum and breastfeeding, tunics are incredible as well. They do great at covering up that postpartum tummy while you are still shrinking back to normal. If you are breastfeeding, the 2-shirt trick is the best way to dress for most events! Just put on a tank top that is stretchy enough to pull under your bra (or a special nursing tank top if you can afford it). If you have tunics or loose tops to go over your tank tops, you can use the top shirt to drape over the breast so you can nurse discreetly!

3. Tank tops

To my surprise, I never had to look for special maternity tank tops. At Walmart I found some stretchy tank tops in the junior section that had a lower drapey front. I’m not sure why they were styled like that, but they worked like magic over my growing summer belly. If you just look around, you’re bound to find at least one style that works for your body and bump shape. My advice is that once you find that tank top get EVERY color you can afford.

Also, if you plan to breastfeed, make sure your tank tops are stretchy enough to pull down underneath your bra to nurse discreetly underneath a tunic (like I mentioned above). However, if you own loose tops that have v-neck or lower necklines OR if you want to use button downs for this, try cutting a slit underneath the rib area of the tank top so that you can just lift it up for breast access without completely exposing the breast!

4. Sports bras/bralettes

During pregnancy it can be frustrating how quickly your breasts grow. Mine went up about 3 cup sizes throughout the pregnancy, but it changed sporadically throughout the pregnancy and I never really knew what size I was going to be the next week or month. Instead of investing in a new bra and then having my boobs change right afterwards, I stuck to sports bras and bralettes (camisoles w/ built in bras would work as well). This way you won’t be uncomfortable when they shrink or balloon randomly, and you will spend a lot less money in the long run!

These are my favorite bras for pregnancy…and for non-pregnancy. They’re fabulous!

The advice I always heard was to shop for a legit nursing bra when you are in month 8-9 of pregnancy because that’s when your bra size will be the most reliable.

5. Dresses

Dresses are INCREDIBLE for pregnancy. I was super excited to have a summer pregnancy because I got by with almost no maternity purchases. The majority of dresses will flow over your belly as you grow. If you have dresses that don’t make it all the way through your pregnancy, you can be confident they will at least be great for your postpartum experience!

Unfortunately, there aren’t as many dress options when it comes to breastfeeding. The best kind are v-neck wrap dresses where you can easily slide one side over and under for nursing. If you find a dress like this with a high empire waist, you could easily wear it from the 1st trimester until you’re done nursing!

6. Lingerie/Nightgowns

While there is something to be said for nursing nightgowns and the support they provide, you can also easily use lingerie for nursing at night. Most lingerie provides easy breast access, but I’m sure you can also find an easy access nightgown that would be much cheaper than an actual nursing nightgown.

Nightgowns are also really great for when you’re huge and miserable. They slip right over your head and you don’t have to worry about a waistband not fitting. As long as you aren’t in a cold season (or even if you are and you’re just SWEATY…), they are perfect.

Things you really do need to invest in (+ places to find them cheap!)

  • A Nursing Bra. At home, I mostly went braless. However, for most women this is not a good option for in public. If you absolutely must have a bra at all times, you will probably need 2 bras. If you can go braless, or stick to nursing tanks for support at home, try to find one good bra. Ross, Marshalls or other outlet stores are a good place to find nursing bras since most people usually don’t want to use hand-me-down underwear. Here are my top picks for: Comfortable/Soft Nursing Bra+ Supportive Leaving the House Nursing Bra
  • Maternity jeans and/or denim shorts. Of course, depending on your lifestyle you may be able to avoid this item OR you may want to get multiple! Personally, I was able to get by with just one pair of denim shorts for my summer pregnancy! With a fall pregnancy, you would probably want one pair of shorts and one of jeans. Some people may disagree with me here too, but I personally couldn’t go through pregnancy without some good denim made specifically for my pregnant body. Sometimes you can find a great deal on maternity pants like Target or Old Navy, or you can look at outlet stores for good quality pants at an affordable price.

What to do when you can’t find it cheap & you need it….

Sometimes during pregnancy you just can’t get comfortable. Depending on the season, the closet you have available to you and how big you get, you may just feel like you need some items that you can’t find anywhere! Here are some ideas for when you find yourself in that predicament:

  • If you haven’t already, check ALL the thrift stores in your area. Maybe you’re one of those ladies that’s a huge thrifter already, but honestly I am soooo not. I hate digging through racks and racks of clothes that aren’t organized well and coming out with nothing to show for it. However, sometimes you can just hit the jackpot! It’s always worth a shot if you are desperately in need of something.
  • If you’re in the first trimester during the summer, hit up ALL the garage sales! Count forward to how big you will be during the coming seasons and pick maternity (or just stretchy/larger) clothing accordingly.
  • Check out buy/sell/trade groups on social media. You can search what you are looking for, or even put out an ISO post asking if anyone has those items available for selling.
  • Ask around. Maybe put a post on facebook if you’re comfortable asking friends if they have anything left over. If you don’t want to put it all over, send a group message to some women you know are done having kids that you’re comfortable asking. You could also make an ISO post in a community mom group online.
  • Ask a sister, friend or mom/grandma to buy you some for a “baby shower” gift. Whether that’s at your actual baby shower or bought in advance, there’s no shame in letting someone you love know a need.

Capsule Wardrobe Checklist

Maternity

  • Spring/Summer
    • Knee-length Dresses (1-2)
    • Short Sleeve Fitted Maternity Tops (1-2)
    • Loose Tanks (2-3)
    • Swim Suit (1)
    • Denim Shorts (1)
    • Cotton/Exercise Shorts (1-2)
  • Fall/Winter
    • Long Sleeve Fitted Maternity Tops (2-3)
  • All seasons
    • Tank Tops (2-3)
    • Short Sleeve Tunic Tops (2-3)
    • Maxi Dress/Skirt (1-2)
    • Bralettes/Sports Bras (1-2)
    • Jeans (1)
    • Leggings/Yoga Pants (1-2)

Postpartum/Nursing

  • Spring/Summer
    • Casual Dress (1)
    • Formal Dress (1)
    • Loose Tanks (3-4)
  • Fall/Winter
    • Long Sleeve Tunics/Loose Tops (3-4)
    • Formal Dress (1)
  • All Seasons
    • Button-up/Zipper Blouses (1-2)
    • Lightweight Pullover Hoodies (1-2)
    • Fitted Camisoles/Tanks (3-5)
    • Short Sleeve Tunic Tops (2-3)
    • Nursing Bra (1)
    • Nighttime Nursing Bra/Nursing Tanks (1-2)
    • Nursing Nightgown (1-2)

——–

While maternity clothing is an absolute necessity, there are plenty of ways to make your pre-pregnancy clothes work with a little finagling, and for the things you still need you can always find cheap options or just dig around at some thrift stores and garage sales!

Good luck staying comfortable, stylish and covered! But remember… regardless of whether you look like a homeless person or a Motherhood Maternity model while you’re pregnant, you’ll end up with the same result… a beautiful, lovable little one to cherish, and that’s the most exciting part of all! ❤

maternity building a wardrobe on a budget postpartum nursing pregnancy limited income

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