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Maternity Clothing- A Comprehensive Review

Joy Sarkar1 and Md. Shamsuzzaman Rasel2

  1. Lecturer, Department of Textile Engineering, Khulna University of Engineering & Technology (KUET), Bangladesh. 2. Department of Textile Engineering, World University of Bangladesh.

Maternity screenshot-234

Maternity/ Pregnancy period

Pregnancy, also known as gravidity or gestation, is the state of being a mother; motherhood; the feelings or characteristics associated with being a mother inside a woman [15].  It usually lasts around 40 weeks from the last menstrual period (LMP) and ends in childbirth [15—16]. This is just over 9 lunar months, where each month is about 29½ days. Pregnancy is typically divided into three trimesters [17].

Signs and Symbols/ problems during pregnancy

The symptoms and discomforts of pregnancy are those presentations and conditions that result from pregnancy but do not significantly interfere with activities of daily living or pose a threat to the health of the mother or baby [18-19]. Major symptoms and discomforts of pregnancy include:

  • Tiredness
  • Constipation
  • Pelvic girdle pain
  • Back pain

ERV, expiratory reserve; FRC, Functional residual capacity; IC, Inspiratory capacity; IRV, Inspiratory reserve; RV, residual volume; TLCm total lung capacity; TV, tidal volume; VC, Vital capacity are found generally [20].

Common problem of pregnancy Maternity
Fig: Lung Volumes in nonpermanent and pregnant women

Physiologic Changes during Pregnancy

Pregnancy is associated with normal physiological changes that assist fetal survival as well as preparation for labour. It is important to know what ‘normal’ parameters of change are in order to diagnose and manage common medical problems of pregnancy, such as hypertension, gestational diabetes, anaemia and hyperthyroidism.

  1. Hormonal changes to an increase in minute ventilation to 50% greater than non-pregnant levels [21]
  1. Body Weight gain varies from person to person and can be anywhere from 5 pounds (2.3 kg) to over 100 pounds (45 kg).
  2. A woman’s breasts grow during pregnancy, usually 1 to 2 cup sizes [citation needed]and potentially several cup sizes. [22-24]
  3. During the course of pregnancy, blood volume slowly increases by 40-50%. The increase is mainly due to an increase in plasma volume through increased aldosterone [23]
  4. During pregnancy the plasma volume increases by 50% and the red blood cell volume increases only by 20-30% [25]
  5. An increased requirement for nutrients is given by fetal growth and fat deposition. Changes are caused by steroid hormones, lactogen, and cortisol.
  6. Nutritionally, pregnant women require a caloric increase of 300 kcal/day and an increase in protein to 70 or 75 g/day. There is also an increased folate requirement from 0.4 to 0.8 mg/day (important in preventing neural tube defects). On average, a weight gain of 20 to 30 lb (9.1 to 13.6 kg) is experienced [26-27]
  7. The glomerular filtration rate (GFR) commonly increases by 50%, returning to normal around 20 weeks postpartum [25,28]
  8. During pregnancy, woman can experience nausea and vomiting (morning sickness); which may be due to elevated B-hCG and should resolve by 14 to 16 weeks
  9. Thefetus inside a pregnant woman may be viewed as an unusually successful allograft, since it genetically differs from the woman. In the same way, many cases of spontaneous abortion may be described in the same way as maternal transplant rejection [29]
  1. Pregnant women fall at a similar rate (27%) to women over age of 70 years (28%). Most of the falls (64%) occur during the second trimester. Additionally, two-thirds of falls are associated with walking on slippery floors, rushing, or carrying an object [30]

 Progesterone has noticeable effects on respiratory physiology, increasing minute ventilation by 40% in the first trimester [31] etc.

Maternity screenshot-237
Fig: Physiological changes during pregnancy

Maternity  screenshot-238screenshot-239screenshot-243
Some of the incorporated features of Maternity Clothes [36]

A)    Pattern styling features ( like godet, extension features, pattern shaping, appropriate trims, placket etc)

  1. Godet: it is a triangular wedge of fabric which is inserted between the seams to bring in fullness. This is used to provide fullness in side seam of Kurta/ Kameez/ Tops/ Dungaree. The dimensions of the godet were designed so as to accommodate the growth allowance as indicated in table. This fullness was controlled by using the trims i.e. zipper or button or the shoe string arrangement.
  2. Extension features (Like wrap around, Cowls, Side seam extension): These are existed of blocks to bring in more fullness. They can be extensions of the front panel to make warp around Kameez/ Kurta or on open unstitched out seam of trouser for making a warp around trouser. The extensions are built in on the stitched side seam of the bifurcated garment which can be rolled to tie on the front.
  3. The pattern shaping: The bifurcated garments are cut on low waist i.e. 2’’ – 3’’ below the waist line and further shaping is done by 2’’ on the centre front to reduce the front crotch length.
  4. Placket: Eyes are stitched at three different positions on the left front panel Placket extension. Hook arrangement is provided on the right front panel of the Kurta/ Kameez. Depending upon the demand on the waist position of the hook can be changed to close with the relevant eye.

B)     Construction features ( Like smocking, pleats etc )

  1. Smocking and Gores (Panels): Gores (Panels) with elasticized smocking are used to provide the much desired growth and also for styling. This features are generally used in saree blouse where a gore panel is used under the arm and on the side seam and this elasticized smocking gore (panel) provided the fullness to accommodate the growth on bust during pregnancy and later lactation stage [37].
  2. Pleat: It is a fold of fabric created by doubling cloth on itself. This features are used on a Kurta or a Kameez (upper torso Garment). The pleat is positioned such that the top of the pleat is at the bust base from where the maximum growth of the abdomen starts. The growth on the abdomen will push against the fold of the fabric and the pleat will come open to accommodate the growth. During pre and post pregnancy the fabric will fold back to provide styling.

C)    Fabrics selections ( Fabrics which are forgiving in nature)

Fabrics with stretch properties are selected to accommodate the anthropometric growth on lower torso garments (i.e. salwar, churidar, trousers and skirts) and also to achieve longevity.

D)    Innovation in supper garment (Top-cum-Poncho)

The top is designed in such a way that there is button placket on side seam of the front and back panel and inseam of the sleeve. The front inseam of the sleeve could be unbuttoned with the inseam of the back sleeve and side seam of the front could be buttoned with the side seam of the back to give a top. The front inseam of the sleeve could be buttoned with the front side seam of the top and the back inseam of the back side seam of the top to give a poncho.


Steps-1: Get the timing down

During carrying a single pregnancy, probably won’t start to show until the second trimester. For the first three months, most of clothes (except the tightest ones) will continue to fit. When a women start to need larger clothing, the best strategy overall is to buy what it is needed.

Steps-2: Know what to look for

Most department stores have a maternity clothing section. It can also shop at specialty maternity stores, which are likely to have a larger selection of styles and sizes. Because a lot of women don’t need to hang onto their maternity clothing, consignment stores can also have a wide selection of gently-used, still-trendy items.

Steps -3: Dress with confidence

There’s no need to hide in the tent-like dresses and sweaters. Embrace styles that will flatter a new, glowing-with-life form.

Steps-4: Planning on nursing, buy ahead

Recovering from childbirth and nursing a newborn can be exhausting, and the last thing will want to do is to make a time and energy consuming shopping expedition [38-39].

Maternity Clothing Sizing

Maternity clothing designers usually label the sizes by pre-pregnancy sizes. For example, a pregnant woman whose pre-pregnancy waist size is 30 would likely fit comfortably in a pair of size 30 waist maternity pants. The maternity pants’ waist size is not actually 30 inches, but they should fit a woman’s body whose normal waist size is 30 inches and will accommodate her waist as it expands throughout her pregnancy. This same sizing applies to dresses, tops and other clothing that follow different sizing conventions, such as XS to XL, 0 to 14 or plus sizes.

Types of Maternity Clothes

Maternity clothing makes know this, and they sell specialty clothing of all types, including:

  • Tees
  • Tank Tops
  • Blouses
  • Sweaters
  • Jeans
  • Pants
  • Skirts
  • Dresses
  • Bras
  • Panties
  • Hosiery
  • Swimwear
  • Active Wear
  • Sleepwear
  • Belly Support Bands and Bra Extenders

1.     Maternity Tops and Dresses

A woman’s belly, breasts and arms get larger during pregnancy, so it is essential to purchase maternity tops and dresses to feel as comfortable as possible. Many different styles are available, including tees, tank tops, blouses and sweaters and dresses. There’s no need to feel frumpy in over-sized tees or sweatshirts.

2.     Maternity Bottoms

The maternity bottoms that are flattering, comfortable and appropriate for all types of situations are found. Don’t squeeze painfully into pre-pregnancy jeans when it looks great in maternity bottoms, which have stretchy belly panels to allow for growing belly.

3.     Maternity Lingerie and Hosiery

One of the most important things that you can do to feel as comfortable as possible during the pregnancy is to wear maternity lingerie that fits without rolling down or squeezing into body skin. Wearing maternity bras that have larger band and cup sizes than women normally wear. It can be surprising while seeing at the large selection of maternity bras on the market that are designed to make women feel comfortable and beautiful. Maternal panties can be used also. Pregnant women still want to stay active and even go swimming, but it can be tough fitting into pre-pregnancy active wear or swimwear. Buying maternity active wear and swimwear is the way to go if anyone wants to feel comfortable while enjoying workouts and swimming.

4.   Belly Bands and Bra Extenders

Belly bands and bra extenders are great ways to extend the use of maternal clothing as pregnant body changes. Belly band, also known as a belly sleeve or a belly belt can be used, to smooth the lines of unbuttoned pants, provide extra support for pants or to hold up maternity pants after delivery.

Maternity Clothing Stores

Maternal cloths are found in special stores. Here are some popular dedicated stores for maternity clothes:-

  5. Target
  6. JC Penney
  7. Old Navy
  8. Gap

Saving Money on Maternity Clothes

A pregnancy can be expensive, and many mothers would rather use their money to prepare for their babies by stocking up on diapers, baby clothes and other costly items that their babies will need. Luckily, there are several ways that an expecting mother can save money on maternity wear.

Hand-Me-Downs: Borrowing clothing from relatives or friends who no longer need their maternity clothes is a great way to reduce the costs of pregnancy.

Second-Hand Stores: A high quality maternity clothes at second-hand stores are found like Goodwill or any local thrift stores. Some maternity stores, like, sell pre-owned maternity clothing. Maternity clothes are great to buy used because it’s likely that they were only worn for less than nine months.

Sales: Just like with regular clothes, maternity clothes go on sale. Unpopular clothes and seasonal clothes have to go to make way for new maternity clothes, so it’s a good.

Coupons: A smart shopper can save big on maternity clothes by using coupons. There are several websites where anyone can find coupons to use both online and offline.,,, and are all great sites to find these coupons [40].

Alternatives to Maternity Clothes

Some women are not ready to wear maternity clothes in the first trimester for one reason or another. Some women throughout their pregnancy choose to wear larger or looser regular clothes, rather than maternity clothes. Certain styles can accommodate changing size needs from the first trimester to term, such as:

  • A-lines dresses that flare from the top
  • Empire waist dresses that are not fitted around the waist
  • Pleated dresses that flare at the waist
  • Sheath style dresses with stretchy fabrics that gives around the waist
  • Stretchy pants or skirts, particularly those with elasticized waist can be worn around, below or above the waist as the need arises
  • Go up a size or more in your non-maternity clothes in the late second and in the third trimester
  • Oversized shirts in the first trimester will accommodate increased breast size and are also good options to accommodate as you get into the second and particularly the third trimester.
  • Flared, billowy shirts will be comfortable to both your growing breasts and abdomen in the late second trimester, and particularly in the third.

Maternity clothes cultures in different country

In Western cultures, the influence of celebrity culture  means that pregnant women in the public eye are taking the lead on maternity fashion. As a result, pregnant women are no longer trying to hide or disguise their pregnancy, instead choosing to wear garments which closely fit their new shape, often emphasizing the bust and abdominal area

Maternity western-country
Fig: Maternal Clothes in Western Country

In both the Islamic and Asian cultures, maternity wear is much less fitted, hemlines are longer and necklines higher. Modern Islamic maternity wear uses fabrics with brighter colors and bolder prints.

asian-countries Maternity clothing
Fig: Maternal dress in Asia Continent
Islamic-countries Maternity
Fig: Maternal Clothes in Muslim Country


With the development of the consciousness in fashion women are now more concern about their clothes specially, during the period of pregnancy. During the pregnancy period a huge psychological and physiological changes are observed when normal clothes are uncomfortable. As women always choose to wear healthy and comfortable but not so expensive clothes at different stages of pregnancy, it is better to have maternal clothes. Fashion designers are trying to develop the existing clothing styles by introducing the newer designs. Although the pregnancy sizes are not same at every stages of pregnancy so choosing a better cloth is very important. The manufacturers must pay concentration on the types of cloths as culture may not permit it always. However, it can be clearly understand that a maternal cloth can be used for a safe birth of a baby. So its importance can be demolished anyway where further improvement must require.


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