Trendy bumps: buying maternity clothes

Pregnancy doesn't mean you have to give up on looking stylish. There are lots of designer, high street and specialist clothing stores offering great clothes that feel comfortable and look great.

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You'll probably find that you can get away with wearing normal clothes that are a size or two bigger than your usual one for the first few months. While you probably won't want to invest in expensive items, buying a few cheerful on-trend pieces will get use once you've had the baby too – as you're likely to be a size or two bigger than your normal one for a few months until you lose the baby weight.

By the about the sixth month of pregnancy your bump will have grown enough so that you need to wear proper fitting, comfortable maternity clothes. A good pair of jeans is a must – try on a few styles to see if you prefer styles with an elasticised panel that goes over your bump, or one that sits underneath it – as is an everyday wear dress.

Generally, look for clothes that are comfortable with stretchy fabrics. Cotton is a good choice as it doesn't itch (skin can become more sensitive to man-made fabrics in pregnancy) and is breathable.

Look for waistbands that have plenty of stretch in them and clothes with side panels of stretchy fabric. You may grow bigger than you think, so make sure anything you buy has plenty of 'give' – to avoid having to buy replacement clothes toward the end of the pregnancy.

Think practicality when choosing tops or dresses. You'll likely to wear maternity clothes after the birth for a while, and if you plan to breastfeed you'll want styles that will be practical. For example, chose wrap over tops or ones that are easy to pull up.

Remember, it's not just your tummy that is going to grow. Most women go up several cup sizes in pregnancy, so make sure you get fitted for a bra that will offer support (non-wired is best) and will still be comfortable.

Businesslike bumps
Maternity wear doesn't have to mean flowery dresses, leggings and cardigans. If you're a working mum-to-be you can still look professional in the office with a few key pieces. Liz Lange has an online shop that stocks a range of business maternity clothes including suit as shirts – or try mummyandlittleme, cravematernity and sculptmaternity.

To save on cash, buy one or two pairs of well-cut trousers in a dark colour and mix and match with other items. Or, you could see if you can borrow items from friends and family who might still have some maternity clothes in the wardrobe – after all, you'll only need them for a few months.

If you need a dress for a special event, you could always hire one from a specialist company, such as Finally, don't forget to check out eBay and other online sites for second hand bargains.

High street stores
Many high street stores have maternity wear sections with cleverly cut clothes that will last throughout your whole pregnancy. Budget options include Matalan, New Look and H&M, or invest a little more at Mothercare, Marks and Spencer, Next and JoJo Maman Bebe.