Finding Cheap Maternity Clothes

A few weeks back I wrote about How to Look Good Pregnant. And, if you read that post, you’ll know that one of my 5 strategies is to invest in a great maternity wardrobe. That sounds great to any pregnant woman—we all love shopping, right? But how can you do that without breaking the bank? My husband is currently in grad school, so I for one know what it’s like to feel tied down by a tight budget. Maternity clothes can cost a small fortune: I literally feel like I’m shopping for two when I see some price tags. So today I thought I’d share my tips on how I’ve scored cheap maternity clothes that don’t LOOK cheap.

I’m not usually the OOTD type, so I felt a little silly taking all of these pictures. I also realize I’m not exactly a fashion guru, so I may be breaking “rules” or clashing somehow in some of these pics. But the bottom line is that all these outfits are things I felt pretty in and that I didn’t pay much for.

 

cheap maternity clothes from H&M
This is one of my favorite maternity tops. I paid just $5.99 for it at H&M. Woot!

First Stop (If You’re Lucky): Hand-Me-Downs

My husband is the youngest of seven, and most of his older sisters and sisters-in-law are done having kids. This has made me the lucky recipient of lots of fantastic maternity hand-me-downs. This pregnancy I also had a neighbor offer me two huge boxes of maternity things she was done with. When it comes to cheap maternity clothes, nothing is cheaper than free! So if anyone offers you old maternity clothes, say YES.

pretty while pregnant in gray shirt and hat
Both this shirt and these shorts are hand-me-downs from my awesome neighbor Rachelle.

It is true that you may not love everything that’s passed on. And if you don’t absolutely love an item, don’t feel obligated to keep it. But here are a few things I’ve found to be true about maternity hand-me-downs:

  • Hand-me-down tops are often pilled and old looking, but bottoms like jeans usually come looking great. Of the hand-me-downs I’ve gotten, jeans and skirts are the #1 things I’ve kept. This is huge because jeans and skirts also tend to be the most expensive maternity items.
  • Hang onto jeans even if the fit is a bit baggy. I’ve found that these often look great as cutoff shorts. Buying maternity shorts is frustrating because I find the length is often shorter than I want. But if you’re the one wielding the scissors, you can create more of a Bermuda-style length (or whatever length you happen to want) without shelling out $50 or more.

Stop #2: Find Cheap Maternity Clothes at Discount Stores

I’ve found that stores like Ross, Marshall’s, and TJ Maxx have great maternity clothes. You do have to do a bit of digging, and the selection of colors and sizes isn’t what you’ll find at a typical store. But if you do find something you love, it’ll likely cost you far less than its department-store alternative.

Also, keep an open mind. This dress wasn’t in the maternity section. It’s generally true that squeezing into non-maternity things that are too small or simply buying normal clothes larger is unflattering, but not always! Flowy tops and dresses are your best bet for cheating a non-maternity item into your maternity wardrobe.

cheap maternity dress
I scored this dress for just $10.99 at Ross.

Next, Invest in a Few Key Pieces

Most of your maternity wardrobe can be found for a pretty low price. However, you may need to view a few key clothing items as investments. Think about the things you wear the most. For most of us, one or two pair of great maternity jeans are a wardrobe staple worth spending a little extra on. My favorite maternity jeans are from Motherhood Maternity. They tend to be pricy, unfortunately, but I found these ones to be far-and-away more flattering and comfy than anything I found anywhere else. And they do have decent sales from time to time, so watch for those if you can.

Now, consider that wardrobe “staples” vary from person to person. For example, I don’t work in an office these days, so for me, investing in nice maternity slacks would be silly. But during my first pregnancy when I was working outside of the home, slacks were at the top of my must-have list. But these days I’m a stay-at-home/work-at-home mom, so I’m all about comfy jeans and skirts instead. And thanks to Santa Claus’s gift of season passes to a nearby waterpark, I take my kids swimming at least once a week. So for me, spending money on a really cute and flattering maternity swimsuit was well worth it. The one I found and love is from Target. I love both the top (which is nice and long and roomy but somehow still not baggy) as well as the bottoms, which ride nicely below my bump so that I don’t have an awkward mid-bump line. And both the top and bottom, which I snagged on sale back in the spring, came to right around $40. YEAH! It looks like the magenta color is all that’s left in stock at this point in the season, but when I grabbed it a few months ago I opted for the solid black.

maternity swimsuit
Haha. You don’t get a full-on picture of me modeling this one. 😉 But it really is a great, basic maternity swimsuit I’ve loved all summer long.

Another staple for me is a solid pencil skirt in a dark color. It’s nice to be able to feel classy for dates, parties, and so on, plus I go to church weekly and need a few nice outfits to wear there. This awesome maternity pencil skirt from ASOS happens to be a bargain at just $25. It’s super comfy and looks great considering that it’s simple jersey fabric. ASOS also carries quite a few other colors and styles of maternity pencil skirt. I don’t own any but this black one personally, but I’m willing to bet that the others are great too.

 

Layer & Accessorize with What You Have

Now, take a look at what’s already in your closet. What non-maternity pieces do you have that you can layer? Jackets and cardigans can do a lot to make an outfit look intentional and pulled-together. Button-up shirts can also work well. I don’t wear layers all day long too often since my current pregnancy falls in the hot summer months. But whenever I’m going somewhere and want to look nice, layering is one of my favorite options to make a tired clothing combo feel fresh and new and cute. Hats, scarves, bags, and jewelry are also great ways to dress up a basic outfit. You’ll notice that I especially love big earrings. 🙂

Keep in mind what you have on hand as you go out and do your final step in building your maternity wardrobe. I have this yellow cardigan I love, for example, as well as a few big belts I really like. As I did my last step of shopping, I tried to think of what pieces might work with these accessories that I already owned.

Hit Target, Old Navy, and H&M for Everything Else

Hopefully, between hand-me-downs, discount stores, purchasing a few staples, and raiding your existing closet you have quite a bit to work with. But you’re likely still going to need a few more things. And I’ve found that Target, Old Navy, and H&M are the best and cheapest places to get whatever else you still need.

For example, you’re going to want solid t-shirts or tanks in not just neutral colors but a few other colors as well. These pieces can stand alone with a pair of jeans or will pair nicely with the jackets, cardigans, or jewelry you’ve got already. My two go-to maternity t-shirts are these v-necks from Target as well as these basic scoop neck tees, also from Target. I couldn’t survive pregnancy without them.

cheap maternity clothes from Target
Here’s the V-neck. You’ll notice from lots of my pictures that I have this one in white and wear it ALL the time.

 

cheap maternity clothes from Target
I have this one in black and wear it by itself plenty, but it’s also what I’m wearing under the black lace H&M top pictured above (since it was a little revealing for my taste on its own).

You may also want a few tops that are dressier than tees. As much as possible, try to get these things in prints and colors that could potentially layer with things you’ve already got.

cheap maternity top

And last of all, in addition to any more upscale dresses or skirts you may have invested in, you’ll likely want some comfy, basic dresses as well. Maxi dresses and skirts are great as well as anything else that makes you feel pretty and comfortable. I find that using big belts on these kinds of pieces makes you look classy and intentional rather than frumpy. I found the best and cheapest dresses online at Old Navy.

cheap maternity maxi dress

Should I Shop Online or In-Store?

For both Target and Old Navy, you’ll likely want to do most of your shopping online. Their in-store locations will likely have a small maternity section, but both offer a TON online. Better still, around holidays especially, both Target and Old Navy will offer promotions like free shipping or 30% off your entire order. I bought most of my maternity clothes this pregnancy over President’s Day weekend, for example. If you can wait long enough to shop strategically, you can save a lot of money this way. Note too that Target’s RedCard gives you free shipping, period. Since so much of their maternity is online-only, I’m glad I have a RedCard for this reason alone.

Also, take advantage of free return shipping. When shopping online, it can be hard to know what size to get from sizing charts alone. Simply order a few sizes of items you like and send back the ones that don’t work out. (Target lets you return any unwanted items for free in-store as well, which is a major pro for me since it’s both free and easy to do).

H&M is also a favorite of mine for cheap maternity clothes. I find the opposite to be true for H&M, though: I prefer to shop H&M in-store instead of online. Their clearance racks especially are goldmines. That black lace top I put at the start of this post was just $5.99 on one of their clearance racks. Crazy, right? I find that some of my cutest, most expensive-looking cheap maternity clothes have come from H&M.

cheap maternity clothes at H&M

Go Forth and Shop

There you have it. Armed with a specific game plan, you can now go out and shop for cute, cheap maternity clothes. Happy shopping! 🙂

Full disclosure: This page and a few others on my blog contain affiliate links. That means if you click on a link on one of my posts that takes you to another site where you buy a product I recommend, I get a small commission. I take that as a huge virtual high-five and thank you from my readers and am tickled when it happens, but I hope you know that I have a staunch policy of only including affiliate links for products that I actually own and think are incredible, as well as only linking to the best price I can find for any given product. 

7 Tips to Survive Morning Sickness

When does morning sickness end?!? If you’re reading this in the midst of your own battle with morning sickness, I’m so sorry. Morning sickness sucks. But it does eventually go away! And in the meantime, there are things you can do to alleviate some of your misery.

Angry mommy-keeps-barfing selfies. This was around week 9, I think.

My own morning sickness began around week 6 this pregnancy. It raged on with a vengeance weeks 7 and 8, then continued but toned down a little from weeks 9 through 15. I had ZERO morning sickness my first two pregnancies, so feeling this bad this time caught me completely off-guard. I figured out a few things that helped me survive, though. Today I’m sharing my top 7 morning sickness game changers with you.

1. Gummies to the Rescue!

If you feel pukey, don’t even try to choke down regular prenatal vitamins. Just don’t. Your baby will be just fine if you back down to prenatal gummies. If you compare labels, you’ll see that the gummy vitamins contain pretty much everything your regular prenatal vitamin does minus iron. Now, iron is important, but it’s not more important than being able to keep food and its attendant calories and nutrients in your system. If prenatal vitamins are making your nausea and vomiting worse, switch to gummies right away. You can return to regular prenatal vitamins once you feel better. A few weeks of low iron is not going to adversely affect either you or your growing baby.

Target prenatal dummies

But Are Gummy Vitamins Worth the Cost?

I’m frugal enough that paying more for gummy vitamins annoyed me. But, I finally realized there was no point in paying for the regular ones since I mostly just threw them up. The regular prenatal vitamins that I currently take (I’m 29 weeks at the time of writing this post and my nausea is long gone) cost me $7.99 for a bottle of 100 tablets. That breaks down to about eight cents per pill.

The cheapest prenatal gummy vitamins I found during my first trimester were the ones pictured below. They’re the Target store brand variety and cost $7.99 for 90 gummies—which is actually 45 days’ worth of vitamins, since one dose is TWO gummies. That means you’re paying about 23 cents per dose. But assuming you are sick enough to need gummies for 12 weeks, that extra 15 cents per day adds up to only $12.60 total. YOU ARE WORTH $13.00!

Another great option is these VitaFusion prenatal gummies through Amazon. I didn’t use them personally, but I wish I’d Googled them back when I needed gummies because they’re even cheaper than the Target ones, at only $5.59 for a 90-count bottle (so a 45-day supply). And for both of these online options, if you’ve got either a Target RedCard or Amazon Prime, they’ll ship to you for free. Woot! (Side note: I don’t do store credit cards, period, but the RedCard has an awesome debit option that I use. I’ve saved like a bajillion dollars in the four years I’ve had it from the free shipping alone. Ditto with Prime—I shop enough online that both are well worth it.)

One last thought on vitamins: whether you take gummy or regular, take them at the time of day that you feel best. For most women, that’d be later in the day. However, what I had was more EVENING sickness than morning sickness (read: weeks 7 and 8 NOTHING stayed down after 3pm) so I made a point of taking my gummy vitamins midday, when my morning nausea had subsided but my worse evening nausea hadn’t yet begun. Figure out a schedule that works for you so that those vitamins can stay down as often as possible.

2. Eat Every 2 Hours

You may be rolling your eyes as you read this. Every TWO hours? I don’t want to eat EVER! It makes me sick! I know I felt this way. But around 2 weeks in of really awful vomiting every single evening, I decided to just try eating small, easy-on-the-tummy snacks every 2 hours around the clock. It made a HUGE difference for me.

Give it a try for a day or two. Amazingly, all the advice about this I read proved right for me. I really did feel better if my stomach was never empty but never overly full. I set alarms on my phone and simply ate when they went off, whether I wanted to or not. Force-feeding like this may sound unpleasant, but over time, I found that it kept my nausea manageable. Snacking every 2 hours got me to the point where I never felt awesome, but I was up and functioning and not throwing up. And that was a welcome change!

when does morning sickness end
I had this ultrasound in the midst of my morning sickness. Keeping this print taped on the fridge helped remind me why I was bothering to choke down snacks every two hours. This baby and me needed nutrition, and we needed it to stay put!

3. Don’t Stress Nutrition Too Much

This was bizarre, but I found myself throwing up every time I ate a dessert weeks 6ish through 14ish. Even a small amount of something like licorice or chocolate cake sent me running for the barf bowl. I hated that! But I finally accepted it and eased back on sugary foods temporarily. (But I’m now back to eating dessert 2x a week. Yay!)

Other foods that didn’t sound great included raw fruits and veggies (a fresh salad? eek!). I had a hard time not feeling guilty about it, but I finally made peace with the fact that my nutrition wasn’t going to be stellar during my first trimester. The one veggie that appealed to me was baby carrots, and I could do both fruit smoothies and applesauce as well. But that was about it. So for my first trimester, I ate a lot of carbs plus smoothies plus carrots. That stayed down, so that’s what I decided I would do until my nausea began to ease up.

My days consisted of a lot of Baked Lay’s plain potato chips, wheat toast, smoothies, and applesauce. The one other food that, oddly, sounded great most of the time Papa Murphy’s chicken garlic pizza. Go figure! So I ate a lot of those things, in small amounts, every two hours. If I’d looked at the calories or macros carefully during that time, I would have felt stressed and guilty because of all the carbs. So I didn’t. I made a conscious decision to just eat what worked for my first trimester or so without worrying about nutrition and numbers. And I’m glad I did it.

Nausea AND Weight Gain?

You unlucky duck. If you’re like me and only want to eat carbs first trimester, you may notice that in spite of how sick you feel, you’re gaining weight. Don’t feel guilty about this, and DON’T try to scale back on your calories or include foods that don’t sit well to try to counter the gain. Just embrace it. Getting food to stay down is a huge deal for you and your growing baby.

I know I’d hoped to not gain at all in my first trimester, but I did put on 5 pounds by week 14. And that was okay. It was the result of doing what was best for me and little Scarlett—and THAT, more than a number on the scale, is what healthy really means. It’s easier said than done, but don’t worry about your weight gain here. It’ll all even out later in pregnancy, and it’ll all come off post-baby. Nourishing your baby is far more important than the number on the scale.

4. Include Protein If You Can

You shouldn’t worry about nutrition too much, true. But you may find that making the effort to eat some protein is worth it simply because it might help your nausea.

For many who suffer from morning sickness, foods high in protein (like eggs and meat) may sound horrible. I know I was this way (with the weird exception of the chicken pizza). However, I found that eating protein did seem to help my nausea. How did I swing that? Instead of turning to meat for my protein, I discovered protein bars. I used to only eat protein bars immediately post-workout. But as I grappled with morning sickness, I found that eating a small protein bar once or twice a day as one of my snacks helped me feel a lot better to my stomach.

The kind I found that tasted great and were perfectly portioned for my diet of frequent snacks? Think Thin bars. Note that they come in a few varieties, but the type I liked were the littlest ones, the Lean Protein and Fiber Bars. These little guys contain only 150 calories apiece but pack in 10 grams of protein. I LOVE the Salted Caramel, Almond Brownie, and Cupcake Batter flavors. Yum!

The cheapest place to get these is at Target. Where I live, you can get a box of 5 bars for $5.99. Your next best option is larger packs sold through Amazon. But even these break down to be about $1.60/bar whereas snagging them in the 5-pack at Target is about $1.20/bar.

Another great way to sneak protein in without upsetting your guts? Smoothies. I would add a scoop of vanilla flavored protein into fruit smoothies and not be at all bothered by the taste or texture. A small  fruit + ice + almond milk + protein powder smoothie was my go-to breakfast through most of first trimester.

easy protein smoothie

5. Make Sleep a Priority

Another thing that I noticed made my nausea worse was lack of sleep. On nights when I hadn’t slept well, my stomach felt way worse. So I finally gave up my 5:30am workouts and slept in until 7:00am instead. I also often napped while my kids napped. This trade-off made me feel like a lazy bum, but it also meant far less time kneeling in front of the porcelain idol.

Do whatever it takes to get to bed early, sleep in later, or get a chance to rest in the middle of the day. I was sleeping 10+ total hours during that time, and I think my body needed it.

6. Tread Carefully with Exercise

I mentioned above that I stopped working out in the mornings. For my worst 2 or 3 weeks, workouts were completely out of the question. I didn’t want to deplete my system of even more calories by burning some off with exercise, plus I felt like crap. So at that point, the healthier choice for me was to completely bail on workouts.

However, once I was no longer puking, I did find that working out helped in two ways. It alleviated my nausea AND helped me work up more of an appetite. I found that I was able to eat my one real meal a day around noon, right after a light 30-minute workout. The rest of the day I mainly stuck to little snacks, but exercise was a big deal for me in getting one decent meal down a day.

when does morning sickness end
Me in my workout gear around Week 9, when I finally decided to try exercise again. I was so glad that I did.

So honestly consider how workouts make you feel. If they help, do something light each day! And if they don’t, let exercise go for a few weeks until you start feeling up to it. Like with your nutrition, your activity level may not be completely ideal in early pregnancy. And that is okay. Treat this time as survival mode. Do whatever you need to do to feel okay and help your baby grow. And don’t feel guilty about it.

7. Embrace Maternity Pants Early

Last of all: don’t let pride get in the way of your switching to maternity pants. You may physically fit into your regular jeans, but guess what? If you are constantly dealing with nausea, regular jeans feel awful! A nice elastic panel feels glorious compared to a standard button.

I jumped into maternity pants at week 7, even though I hadn’t gained any weight at all by that point. Why? Because they were comfy, that’s why. Don’t deny yourself of one of the biggest things you can do to make your guts a little happier. Anything even remotely tight on your stomach is only going to make your nausea worse. Even if you think it’s waaaaay too early, try switching to maternity pants and see how it feels.

You Are Going to Make It!

When does morning sickness end? Way after it should, if you ask me. Even one day of first-trimester puking and bleh-ness is way too long. You might not feel awesome for the next few weeks or even months, but hopefully, trying a few of the above strategies may take you from all-out misery to a place that’s manageable.

More than anything else, remember that this is ALL going to be worth it! Keep the end in your sights. Before you know it you will be snuggling a sweet little newborn. All this awfulness will be a distant memory that will pale in comparison to the joy it is to be a mom—not just of a tiny baby but of a child who is going to continue bringing you happiness your whole life long. So hang in there, warrior!

IMG_0948
Me ready to take my last baby, Aurora, home from the hospital. 🙂 You’ll reach this magical day before you know it!