As I entered the second trimester of my first pregnancy and the rubber band trick was no longer cutting it, I decided to take the plunge and buy maternity jeans. Since I would be wearing them throughout the entirety of my pregnancy, it made sense to invest in fashionable, high-quality designer jeans — after all, I could reuse them for future pregnancies, I justified.
After an exhausting afternoon spent perusing the racks at A Pea in the Pod and my local maternity boutique — and recovering from the sticker shock of designer maternity jeans (which somehow manage to be even more expensive than normal designer jeans even though you wear them a fraction of the time) — I headed home a little poorer but fully equipped with the denim essentials I needed to get me through to delivery day. Or so I thought. Turns out, these jeans wouldn't last me through to the end of the week.
I had made two big rookie mistakes. Learn from me and do the following when maternity jean shopping instead:
1. Size Down Instead of Up
I was pregnant and my growth trajectory was only going to go up, so when I was between sizes in a brand, it seemed logical to go with the bigger size. What I didn't realize, however, was that the jean companies know you're going to grow too, so they tend to make their maternity styles with extrastretchy fabric and a wider girth around the hips. In other words, the jeans are already bigger — so instead of sizing up, I should've stuck to my normal size or even jumped down a size. I learned this was the case the hard way when, after an eight-hour work day, the jeans that had fit so perfectly in the dressing room were practically falling off me. This pair of droopy, baggy denim looked nothing like the fashionable skinny style I thought I was splurging on.
2. Know Your Waistband Preference
There are two styles of maternity jean waistbands: over-the-belly, which features a band of stretchy fabric that extends from the mid-fly to the top of the bump, and under-the-belly, which favors a low-rise silhouette and swaps in big patches of elastic around the pocket area to accommodate the bump. I was learning about both for the first time when I stepped into my first pair of bump-friendly denim, so I had no preference. I ignored the waistband style while focusing on which pairs I thought were the cutest. Well, it turns out that I find the over-the-bump style to be itchy and its lack of a real band around my hips made me feel like my pants were constantly on the verge of slipping down. Conversely, I loved the way under-the-belly jeans looked like my nonmaternity pants and felt secure around my hips. I know moms who feel the exact opposite, so it really is a personal preference. I just wish I knew what mine was before buying three pairs of expensive over-the-belly maternity jeans.
With my maternity clothing budget spent and no jeans I loved in my closet, I did the only thing I could do: took whatever ill-fitting existing jeans could be altered to my tailor and headed to eBay to replace the others with affordable, gently used options in smaller sizes. But now that I know my maternity jean size and style preference, you can be sure that I'll be shopping differently for my future pregnancies.