So after years of teary dressing room meltdowns and wearing all black outfits in the hope they would make you invisible, you’ve finally found your plus-size fashion game and you’re looking *flames* *100* all day, every day. Except now you’re pregnant, and you hit up your go-to plus size ranges only to find your maternity options look like this:
Not that there’s anything wrong with white denim puff sleeves per se, but they might be a little difficult to style out in the office. And besides, given that almost none of your clothes fit now, you could probably do with some wardrobe staples first.
So here’s my guide to plus size maternity shopping on the High Street – and FYI, unless you live a city, your only option is to buy online because, in my experience, maternity ranges are non-existent in stores.
My hot take here is that maternity tops are generally a waste of money. Stretchy vests (e.g. H&M, Matalan) should still fit brilliantly throughout the pregnancy, and if you stick to cuts like loose fitting swing tops and dresses there really is no need to pay the extra for maternity, unless you really want to, or if you require fitted or button up items.
If you are going to shop maternity tops and dresses, try to ensure they are also nursing tops (a lot of ASOS Maternity is also nursing) so that they last you after the pregnancy, too.
As you can probably guess, it’s not going to work to just buy clothes in a bigger size. With trousers and leggings, the size that will accommodate your belly will be ridiculously baggy on the legs and bum, so this is the area where you really do need to invest in bump-friendly maternity items.
I don’t know what hateful person invented under bump jeans but these should obviously be avoided. Mothercare, Next, H&M and ASOS all stock decent options up to size 20/22. On recommendation from Mumsnet I bought a pair of New Look Maternity skinny black jeans which fit pretty well.
After about 6 months I was almost exclusively dressed in leggings. Mumsnet forums are divided on who does the best maternity leggings, but my personal favourites were ASOS Maternity for the thickness of the fabric. A close second were New Look Maternity, and my least favourites were Mothercare, as they came up short on the legs for me.
The only maternity tights I found seemed expensive and not often in stock in plus sizes anyway, but in the end George (from Asda) and H&M tights in XL sizes proved stretchy enough that they lasted me throughout the pregnancy.
Maybe it’s the fact that my body is built with a disproportionately broad back, but even pre-pregnancy I found bras the most difficult thing to buy.
The recommendation is to stop wearing underwired bras as soon as possible to prevent blocked ducts, etc, but I couldn’t find any maternity bras in my size. Fortunately, regular non-wired bras worked fine, and they were cheaper. I find Simply Be tends to have the best selection (i.e. more than one) of bras with larger back sizes, but M&S is also worth a punt.
Mothercare have a good range of nursing bras in bigger sizes, I particularly recommend their Blooming Marvellous sleep bras, for the period when you have giant, leaking boulders where your breasts used to be. Slip in a couple of Ana Wiz washable bamboo breast pads and you’re good to go.
I was already all about big black pants anyway, but if you’re only just getting on board due to the pregnancy, I can’t recommend Sainsbury’s TU high-waisted knickers enough. They’re the dream, pants-wise.
Final note on underwear; many of the pregnancy shopping lists will recommend the purchase of disposable knickers for after the birth. I couldn’t find any in plus sizes and to be honest, a combination of giant maternity sanitary towels and big black pants was more than adequate.
I couldn’t rate swimming more as pregnancy exercise, it is a low impact way to stay active when every other form of exercise starts to feel impossible. In the last few months, when I had agonising PGP in my hips, I would go for ‘walks’ in the pool and it was the only bit of the week I was pain-free.
For maternity swimwear, I bought items from both Mothercare and ASOS Maternity, whose ranges go up to size 20.
A tankini or bikini will make it easier to take your quarter hourly pee breaks, plus if you’re planning a water birth it can be used for that, too. A halterneck will enable you to free your boobs easily for some ‘golden hour’ breastfeeding.
For the whole of my pregnancy I didn’t manage to find a reasonably priced maternity coat, so if you know where to go for this please let us know in the comments or on Twitter!