Unfortunately, the options for maternity wear in bigger sizes tends to be limited.
Plus-size clothing is a niche market. Maternity clothing is a niche market.
Plus-size maternity clothing is a niche market within a niche market and therein lies the problem.
Despite the impression the media gives about the ‘obesity epidemic’, there just aren’t enough big pregnant women out there to drive the demand for good quality, good value, fashionable maternity clothing on the high street.
Sales space in a shop is very valuable – there are a lot of overheads like rent, staffing, heating, lighting. Shops can’t have clothes that only have a few people will want to buy taking up space on a sales floor. They have to stock what makes financial sense, and that will be clothes that appeal to a widest range of consumers.
But if you’re feeling sorry for yourself, have a thought for the tall, plus-size, pregnant ladies!
So, what are our options?
One of the pluses of being plus-size and pregnant is that often your bump doesn’t show for quite a while.
While this may make you sad when you see smaller friends’ tummies expand and their belly-buttons pop out at the merest hint of a baby on board, it does at least mean that your usual clothes may well fit a good while longer.
Bear in mind too, that unlike putting on weight generally, only your tummy and boobs are likely to expand – your bottom, thighs etc. should theoretically stay much the same, so depending on your personal style and the season, you may get away with not buying any maternity clothes at all! This is especially true if you’re one of those bigger women who don’t gain, or perhaps lose, weight in your pregnancy (not uncommon).
You may find that thinking creatively about your wardrobe means you can buy just one or two essentials to see you through your entire pregnancy. If you plan ahead, most items can have a life after maternity too!
If you’re a bargain hunter, check out the Big Birtha’s Bargains page. Often when I’m updating links for this site, I discover some really good deals, so there’s now a page where I list the sale items I spot that are suitable for a plus-size maternity wardrobe. You can add links too for the benefit of the Big Birthas Community!
Empire line is flattering and often found in regular clothing, and you may find that just buying a size bigger to accommodate your growing bust is all you need.
Many pregnant plus-size women team up a longer length empire line top or dress with some comfy maternity leggings (see below) and pretty much live in that as they get bigger. Or you could wear with jeans or smart trousers.
Crossover or Wrap Front tops containing lycra are another fashion staple of the non-pregnant wardrobe so should be easy to come by.
They’re flattering to bigger boobs, the extra fabric gives room for expansion, and so long as the front panels are loose and not sewn together, they can prove really useful by doubling up as easy-access breastfeeding tops later.
If you’re someone who lives in jeans, the thought of not being able to wear them as your bump expands may fill you with dread. But you do still have options.
While you’re preferred manufacturer may have nothing for you, there are still a variety of options, both under and over-the-bump styles.
Many of the main retailers only go up to a size 20 or 22, but there are some others who you may never before have heard of – Bon Prix for example, who go up to a size 30.
Some mums were also really impressed with these jeans from Evans. They weren’t actually in the maternity range, but had a stretchy band at the top, plus a drawstring.
Sadly they’re no longer sold, but it can pay to check out the standard stock sometimes, especially as you could actually try them on and not have to do the online thing!
Not everyone is a fan of leggings, but there’s no denying that they represent a comfortable, practical option, particularly when paired with a loose, flowing top or empire-line dress or blouse.
As your pregnancy progresses, you may find you need to invest in specialist maternity leggings in order to stay comfortable.
They needn’t break the bank, however, and while they won’t have the longevity in your wardrobe of some other options they are at least certain to be a comfy choice just after you’ve given birth when you’re likely to be feeling a little squashy.
Elasticated Waist Full Flowing Skirts
Crossover tops can also work well with stretchy-waisted skirts, which don’t necessarily have to be from a ‘maternity’ range. you just need to look for ones with plenty of fabric at the front.
There are plenty of variations of the style on the market; from lightweight cotton crinkle and gypsy maxi skirts, which can work especially well as they have a lot of fabric available; to 40s style floral midi-length. You can wear the elasticated waistband either above or below your bump, depending on what’s comfortable for you.
Another option from ‘regular’ clothing lines which can be worn easily when you’re pregnant is the babydoll style or A-line dress, which is fitted around the bust, but then flares out into a fuller skirt which can accommodate a growing bump.
This is a particularly useful strategy if you’re looking for a plus size maternity wedding outfit as there are some really beautiful options out there in the usual plus-size clothes section, most of which would still work fine with a bump!
Easier to come by in summer, they often come in great fabrics and patterns, and although lightweight, if teamed up with a cardigan or shrug and leggings/jeans, could see you through spring/autumn in style.
Lastly, there are swing dresses. These are very loose, cape-like (almost tent-like) but still can be very cute with the right accessories and are certainly practical and comfortable and would see you through your last months if you’re busting out of everything else!
With a cardi or shrug and leggings/jeans (and a fabulous necklace) this could be a year-round maternity option.
Yup, you don’t even have to squeeze your bump into tights that aren’t made for the job, or wear normal tights under your bump with the extra elastic uncomfortably rolled down!
Great for if you have to dress up for an occasion and it’s too cold for bare legs, or for work.
But be warned, near the end of your pregnancy you’ll seem to need to pee almost constantly, so wriggling in and out of tights might not seem so great after the 5th trip to the loo!
**UPDATE** M&S stocks of maternity tights have been a bit up and down lately. They were in stock last time I checked. The only other sources I can find for specialist Maternity tights (below) are unfortunately a bit vague with the sizing. You could try giving their customer services line a ring to discuss, though.
Other people have reported success with just buying non-maternity plus-size tights a couple of sizes bigger than they would have chosen pre-pregnancy.
If you like swimming, or you join an aquanatal class (which I’d thoroughly recommend for preparing you for childbirth!) you might well need a swimming costume that can cope with your bump as the pregnancy progresses.
Depending on your shape, and how much weight you gain (or even lose – it is not uncommon for plus-size mums to lose weight while pregnant) you might get away without buying a specialist maternity one at all. It may work for you to just buy a cheap swimsuit slightly bigger than your normal; size. Bonmarché have some cheap and cheerful ones and go up to a size 32.
If your shape means that you definitely do need a specialist cossie, your choices are unfortunately limited. This is such a small market there are scarce few available in larger sizes in the UK.
Bon Prix have a couple of maternity options in sizes up to 22, although in their regular swimwear range (up to size 30) I found this Babydoll-style tankini which would surely work for a lot of people, so it might be worth keeping an eye on tankini options if you can’t find anything you like/your size in the maternity swimwear.
Speedo.co.uk claim to do plus-size, but for them, XXL is a size 18! Ha ha ha ha ha.
Mothercare Swimwear have some options up to a size 20.
Figleaves have some maternity swimwear up to size 20-22.
My biggest surprise was ASDA, who seem to be the only mainstream retailer I can find at the moment who sell maternity swimsuits over a size 18 (up to a size 24). They’re not a specialist range, they just offer just a greater array of sizes than their competitors, and even better, they’re pretty reasonable and even quite cute!
As the nights draw in and the weather gets colder, a new coat to accommodate your bump might be your one unavoidable expense, especially if you have reason to be outside a lot (e.g. if you use public transport, or have to hang around in a playground to collect little ones from school).
Unfortunately, very few of the plus-size maternity wear suppliers even sell maternity coats, and therefore the options are quite limited, one exception being Bon Prix who have ingenious specialist coats with expanding side zips, additional panels, and some even incorporate baby covers!
If you’re not in the market for a whole new coat, or you just don’t think you’d get enough wear out of it, depending on your shape and stage of pregnancy in winter, you may be able to think creatively.
<< One option is to look for a ‘swing’ style, ‘A line’, ‘flared’ or ‘Peter Pan’ coat in regular ranges, like this one.
This design is intended to be worn loose, so as long as there is enough fabric in the body to allow for a growing bump, you should be fine.
It also has the plus of being perfectly wearable after pregnancy too.
Luckily, capes, ponchos, and waterfall coats are back in fashion, which represent the ultimate in flexible sizing and are readily available on the high street.
The one downside of a cape or poncho, however, is the fact that they are often made from reasonably lightweight material in order for them to have the intended ‘drapey’ effect.
This, coupled with the fact that they’re more open at the bottom means that they are not likely to be as warm as a coat. Fine if you generally just have to get from the house to the car, but probably not a useful option if you’re outside for longer periods. You might want to layer up underneath.
Finally, there’s a couple of budget options:
You can stick with your regular coat, allow it to gape open, and accessorize with an extra long chunky knit scarf instead.
Big scarves are very much in fashion, so should be easy to come by, and certainly a lot cheaper option than forking out for a whole new coat you may not wear again. Though depending on where you look, the new coat may be the cheaper option!!
Given the brief period that it’s likely to be cold enough, and you bumpy enough for you to need it, this really can be surprisingly effective .
If you can’t find anything you like, you could always try looking in charity shops for coats slightly bigger than you would normally buy. That way you haven’t wasted much on a coat you don’t want to wear again that you’re only going to need for a very short time.
If you’re fond of wearing trousers and jeans, some women swear by ‘Belly Bands’ like this one.
The idea being that you can use it to cover up and hold together the area between a no-longer-buttoning-fly and a wanting-to-ride-up-top securely so that you can continue to wear jeans and trousers that would fit apart from the bump.
You can get pretty embroidered ones and even custom-made designs here: Mama Band Online Shop
If you already wear long tops and just need something to keep your trousers fastened, another option is an extender like this one on Amazon.
If you’re handy with a needle, you could probably pretty easily make your own. After all, it’s just a bit of fabric-covered elastic with a button one end and a buttonhole at the other.
What To Wear While In Labour
One item women find difficult to decide on is what to wear while in labour. It’s really hard to know what you’ll want until the time comes, and it also depends slightly on your birth plans.
For more ideas, click here: Help!? What Do I Wear In Labour!?
While you may strike lucky in a trawl around the shops, your likely best bet for the greatest choice is online. It’s not as convenient as being able to pick up, feel, and try on the clothes before buying them, especially since you’re buying for a new unfamiliar body shape, but you do at least get to try them on in the comfort of your own home.
Several of the major high street retailers have small plus-size maternity wear collections available online, and some of the specialist mail order plus-size retailers also carry maternity wear:
Simply Be – up to size 32
Bon Prix – up to size 32
Navabi – up to size 30 (if you’ve got deep pockets – it’s pricey stuff)
Yours – up to a 32 (small range, but good to see them stocking maternity again!)
Castaluna – up to size 28
Matalan – up to size 20
Yours – up to size 32 (had maternity clothes until recently – am watching and waiting to see if they return)
Curvissa – up to 32 (really good if you’re looking for an outfit for a wedding or other special occasion – some beautiful dresses, but can be pricey)
Next – up to size 22
Dorothy Perkins – up to size 22
Vertbaudet – up to size 20
Marks & Spencer – up to size 22
Funmum – up to size 22
George at ASDA – up to size 20
Tesco – up to size 20 (22 in swimwear)
Rosegal – up to 5XL
Mojo Maternity – up to size 30
H&M – up to size 24
Peacocks – up to size 20
All About The Bump – up to size 28
and, of course, there’s always eBay
If there’s anywhere you’d like to recommend, or have any tips, please leave a comment below!