Pregnancy can be a tough time for the fashion conscious. You suddenly realise how small the maternity section you've been ignoring your whole life really is, and the temptation to dress in frumpy plus size tops, jogging bottoms and men's shirts is greater than ever before. Even if you crave style and class, the choice on offer in high street shops is limited, and the rails rarely extend to smart outfits for work or elegant evening wear.
But 700,000 women in Britain are expecting a baby every year - there must be some way to look stylish. Well, there is! You simply need to change your old habits.
Change your shopping routine!
The key to looking great during the pregnancy and nursing stages is to change your shopping habits. You're going to have your favourite brands right now, but if their maternity ranges aren't up to scratch (and very few high street brands are), steer clear until you're back to your pre pregnancy shape.
If you do most of your clothes shopping on the high street, now is the time to consider online shopping. The maternity section in clothing stores tends to be limited to say the least, often with just one small section pushed to the back of the store. Online maternity and nursing boutiques offer a much wider choice, with everything from comfortable lounge and night wear to glamorous maternity feeding tops, couture winter coats and even stunning wedding dresses.
Don't stand by your old favourite designers; boutique maternity brands are much more experienced at creating practical clothes to flatter your bump. Look for Mothers en Vogue, Annee Matthew and Milker for quality maternity feeding tops and knitwear with concealed openings for nursing. Breastfeeding tops are a great way to make the most of your maternity wardrobe because they can be worn during and after pregnancy -look for stretchy yet breathable materials which change shape with your bump.
For something a little more special, try Sweet Belly's couture range. Online boutiques stock all of these brands - and many more - in one easy place. This is your chance to enjoy a whole new fashion world!
Dress for your new shape
It sounds obvious that you need to dress for your new shape; that's why you're buying new clothes, after all. But your new shape isn't bigger. There's no excuse to simply buy a couple of sizes up; these clothes will swamp your shape and make you look big, rather than pregnant.
Wrap and empire line dresses and breastfeeding tops are your new best friends! They'll pull you in at the waist, flattering your bump while making you appear slimmer.
Many women find they don't need to shop for pregnancy clothing until the third or fourth month, although the time to switch is different for everyone. Buy your maternity and nursing wear whenever you feel comfortable - most are stretchy enough to flatter your figure even pre or post bump, so are ideal for getting your money's worth!
Comfort is now key
Pregnancy can make your skin sensitive, and your body temperature may be higher than usual. The key to dressing for comfort is to make sure your wardrobe staples are made from natural breathable materials like cotton.
Maternity feeding tops and plus size nursing tops made from these materials offer extra comfort when feeding. Their completely concealed openings are an ingenious way of having extra privacy when nursing your baby.