Maternity clothing is clothing which is specifically designed to be worn by pregnant women. It is designed with a loose, comfortable cut which will expand as the woman's belly grows. Most designs also include elastic, tabs, and other methods of expansion which allow shirts and pants to be let out. Many women also wear maternity clothes after their pregnancies, until they have lost the pregnancy weight and they can fit into normal clothing again. In addition to commercially manufactured maternity wear, it is also possible to sew your own clothing at home, which is a good way to bring down the costs of a pregnancy.
In many cases, maternity clothing is manufactured by a company which specializes in it. Other companies may choose to offer a small line of maternity wear in addition to their conventional garments. Almost any piece of clothing can be transformed into maternity clothing by a skilled designer. Pants, skirts, dresses, shirts, smocks, and jackets are all common offerings in maternity lines. Maternity wear is carried by specialty stores and some department stores, and it is generally a good idea to try it on, if possible, to make sure that it fits comfortably.
Maternity pants and skirts tend to have very broad, elasticized waistbands which will easily accommodate a growing belly. Shirts, dresses, and jackets are designed with a flared base and a larger chest area, since many pregnant women experience physical changes in their breasts as well. Companies which manufacture maternity clothing also often design maternity bras, to offer more support, as well as underwear which is designed with pregnant women in mind.
Historically, maternity wear has been relatively dull. Some pregnant women felt that much of the clothing they wore was unimaginative and unattractive. In response to a desire for more fashionable wear, some high end maternity wear companies arose. The work of reputable fashion designers can be seen on pregnant women who are willing to bear the extra cost, and some companies have also designed lines with more ordinary budgets in mind.
Even with maternity clothing, most women need to purchase larger garments towards the end of their pregnancies, as expansion garments can only grow so far. Because the need for maternity wear is relatively brief, many expecting mothers cut costs by purchasing used clothing, or trading clothes with friends. Networking with pregnant women and new parents in your area could yield a fruitful exchange of garments as well as support and parenting tips.