When your clothes don't fit well and you're uncomfortable, it's time for maternity wear! By the beginning of the second trimester (around the 14th week of pregnancy), maternity clothes will probably be a necessity. If this is your first pregnancy, you may not need maternity clothes until a little later.
Comfort and Fit
Choose natural fabrics when possible—avoid synthetic fabrics. During pregnancy, your metabolic rate increases, and you may feel warmer than usual. Wear fabrics that "breathe," such as cotton in the summer and wool in the winter. Layer your clothing in winter.
Wear fabrics that "breathe," such as cotton in the summer and wool in the winter.
Fashion is a matter of personal preference, but I'll share with you some tips my patients have given me. They have found the following styles added to their comfort:
|wide, elastic bands or panels that fit under your abdomen to provide support|
|wrap-around openings that tie and are easy to adjust|
|elastic waists that expand|
|button or pleated waistbands that are adjustable|
|waistbands with sliders to adjust fit|
Undergarments that add support to your abdomen, breasts or legs may make you feel more comfortable during pregnancy. These undergarments include maternity bras, nursing bras, maternity panties and maternity support hose. Be sure to choose panties and support hose with a cotton crotch.
Maternity bras are designed to provide your enlarging breasts the extra support they need during pregnancy. They have wider sides and stretchier backs than regular bras. They usually have four sets of hooks on the back, instead of two or three, providing more room for you to grow.
You may be tempted to buy a regular bra in a larger size instead of buying a maternity bra, but it's probably better to buy a maternity bra. They provide better support for your heavier breasts.
A nursing bra is worn for breastfeeding; it has cups that open so you can breastfeed without having to undress. Buy a nursing bra only if you plan to breastfeed your baby. You won't need one if you bottlefeed. Wait until the final weeks of your pregnancy to buy a nursing bra; don't buy one before the 36th week of pregnancy. It may be difficult to get a correct fit before then.
Choose a nursing bra with about a finger's width of space between any part of the cup and your breast. This allows for the enlargement of your breasts when your milk comes in. Take nursing pads with you when shopping for a nursing bra for a better fit. Choose a bra that is comfortable when fastened on the loosest row of hooks to allow for shrinkage in your ribcage after pregnancy.
These panties provide support for your enlarging abdomen. Some have panels for your abdomen; others have a wide elastic band that fits under your abdomen to provide support. These panties may be most comfortable in the last trimester of pregnancy.
Maternity support stockings.
Many women do not have to wear maternity support hose during pregnancy. However, if you have a family history of varicose veins or if you develop them during pregnancy, you may need to wear maternity support stockings. You may not be able to depend on over-the-counter support hose. If you need to visit a vein specialist to have maternity support stockings personally fitted, discuss it with your doctor. See chapter 9 for additional information on varicose veins and compression support stockings.
If you don't have a problem with varicose veins, regular pantyhose are OK to wear. Choose hose with a stretchy, wide, nonbinding waistband, and wear them over or under your abdomen, whichever is more comfortable. You might be able to buy maternity pantyhose.
During the second trimester, the breasts produce colostrum, a thin yellow fluid that is the precursor to breast milk. Sometimes it leaks from the breasts or can be expressed by squeezing the nipples. This is normal. It is usually best to leave your breasts alone; don't try to express the fluid. Wear breast pads if you have problems with leakage.
Inverted nipples are flat or invert (retract) into the breast. Women with inverted nipples may find it more difficult to breastfeed. Devices are available to help prepare inverted nipples for nursing and make it possible for women with inverted nipples to breastfeed their baby. Ask your doctor about this. To see if you have inverted nipples, place your thumb and index finger on the areola, the dark area surrounding the nipple.
Gently compress the base of the nipple. If it flattens or retracts into the breast, you have inverted nipples.
One device to help with inverted nipples is a breast shell you wear on each breast during the last few weeks of pregnancy. These plastic shells are worn under your bra to create a slight pressure at the base of the nipple. This pressure helps draw out the nipple. Ask your doctor for further information.