First Trimester Maternity Fashion: What to Buy, What Not to Buy

First trimester maternity shopping is a mixed bag.  First time mamas walk around the house pushing out their bellies and longing for an adorable bump.  The second time around, you spend the entire first trimester sucking in your gut, telling yourself you can still get into your skinny jeans.

It’s difficult for first-time mommies to decide what to buy.  Prepared or not, as soon as that little stick turns pink, the body starts going through major changes.  One day you can hide it and the next, you’re belly is so bloated, literally nothing in the closet fits.  Beyond the bump, there’s the boobs.  Suddenly none of your bras fit and how the heck are you supposed to know what size they’re going to stay?  New clothes and new bras… this could be a disaster for the preggo’s wallet.

Relax… All you need in the first trimester is a few staples that will grow with the pregnancy.  You’ll be more comfy and you can rest easy knowing you didn’t waste money on non-essentials.  Your body deserves comfort, but it’s better to wait for most items.  Your bump won’t be big enough for big maternity dresses for a while and you need to see how your body is going to grow.

I thought I would be one of those moms who only gains 25 lbs and is all belly.  That’s sort of true; I’m all belly, but I retained a ton of fluid.  A couple of my first trimester maternity fashion finds did not last me through the third trimester.  I’m here to make sure your first trimester maternity shopping spree is successfully carries you through the end.

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First Trimester Maternity Staples:

Faux Leather Maternity Pants:

Faux leather pants are a going out staple of mine.  I paired faux leather pants with all of my non-maternity blouses for the majority of my pregnancy.  It was like I wasn’t even wearing “special” clothes.

8 months pregnant: Best Maternity Buys
8 months pregnant.

Shop the photo: faux leather pants with a sequin maternity top, black stretch jacket, Chloé Hudson bag and wedge booties.

Shop Faux Leather Maternity Pants:


Maternity Jeans:

There are maternity hacks out there to help you stay in your pre-pregnancy jeans longer.  I did a post on my favorite technique.  Read the full post here.  This trick worked well to give me a little variety in my wardrobe, but I can’t express how glad I am that I went ahead and purchased a pair of maternity jeans.  Jeans are a must have for my casual days and I want to be comfortable.  There are so many uncomfortable aspects of pregnancy and denim should not be one of them.  I wasn’t aware that there were so many styles of maternity pants.  Maternity jeans are not one and the same, there are 3 different types.

Inset Panel Maternity Jeans:

Inset panel pants have a regular closure; they button and zip just like your non-maternity jeans.  Stretch is added in the front pocket area.  Denim material is replaced with stretch panels behind the pockets, so they will stretch quite a bit.  That said, this type of pant is best earlier in pregnancy. I have a pair of inset panel pants and around six and a half to seven months, I wasn’t as comfy in them anymore.  The pants sit really low below the bump, so they are harder to keep up later in pregnancy.

One solution for saggy bottoms would be a belly band.  The belly band worked for me, so I didn’t have to give up on this first trimester maternity find.  The major benefit of these pants is that they totally look like regular pants.  You can tuck in a longer shirt in the front and there’s no weird “maternity” panel showing.

Shop Inset Panel Pants:

Demi Maternity Pants:

The in-between pant is the demi pant.  Demi maternity pants have a thick (usually around two inches wide) elastic band that sits below the belly.  They aren’t the full panel that you think of when you hear “maternity pants,” but they are more supportive than the inset pant.  I wore my demi pants, comfortably, through the majority of my pregnancy.  They would have made it the duration if I had sized up instead of ordering true to size early.

Shop Demi Maternity Pants:

Full Panel Maternity Pants:

These are the pants that have the full panel all the way up to the ribcage.  The aren’t so comfy earlier in pregnancy because the bump doesn’t fill out the panel, but they are the most comfy of the three toward the end.  I opted not to splurge on these.  It’s hot in Arizona and I decided that I would rather tough it out in the demi pants.  It’s a personal decision though.

Shop Full Panel Maternity Pants:

Maternity Bras:

Bust size fluctuates a lot throughout pregnancy and makes bigger changes after the milk supply comes in.  During my first trimester, none of my bras fit comfortably, but I was hesitant to purchase new ones.  I came across the nursing sleep bra and purchased a few.  Wow.  What a solution!  Sleep bras are made to be super soft and comfortable, so you can sleep in them undisturbed.  Though I’m not yet a nursing mama, I imagine sleep bras are necessary to hold breast pads and prevent leakage straight onto pajamas.  They also happen to be perfect for the first trimester tenderness and size fluctuation.  They don’t offer a ton of support, but a tight, binding bra that hoists the girls up is not exactly appealing during sensitive moments.

I haven’t shopped nursing bras outside of sleep bras, but the helpful ladies at Nordstrom informed me that it’s best to come in for a fitting sometime after the first week or two postpartum (so the choices below will get you through that) and Nordstrom will also attach nursing clips to any bras new or old.  You can have them turn your favorite, most comfortable style into a nursing bra, even if it isn’t offered as an option.

Shop Sleep Bras:


Armed with well-fitting pants and comfy bras, the first two trimesters will be a breeze. Shift and t-shirt dresses also go a long way. I wore all of my looser non-maternity dresses into my third trimester. It wasn’t until the 3rd trimester that I relied heavily on maternity dresses. Thankfully there are inexpensive and stylish options out there. I purchased a couple of maternity dresses early on that weren’t heavily ruched on the sides (that will look baggy in the beginning). I am still wearing them at the end of my pregnancy, so they were a great find.

Shop Non-Maternity Dresses:

Shop Maternity Dresses:

What was your best first trimester buy?

Kate Thakkar

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