Essential Maternity Wear: Soft Things

emma jane sleep bra

Having reached the last couple of weeks of my pregnancy, I’ve been doing a little thinking about what I actually needed, wardrobe-wise, as my baby bump grew. In the first three or four months, the main focus was just on getting comfortable; there wasn’t a mountainous bump to accommodate, but I felt a bit angsty and irritable in my usual clothes. I couldn’t stand anything touching my tummy – possibly because it was quite doughy and bloated for the first twelve or so weeks – and I had this overwhelming urge to wear things that barely skimmed my skin, or at least didn’t offer any real resistance.

And so this post concentrates mainly on “soft things” that you can wear almost all the way through your pregnancy – they’re not expensive and they’ll stretch and last you until at least the end of the second trimester, so all very wise investments. I’d imagine that the following will also be a complete blessing in those weeks after the birth, too! Some of my “soft things” are suitable for being out and about in, lots of them are strictly loungewear, depending on your personal dress code standards, of course…

cake maternity bra

Sleep Bras and Crop Tops

I’ll be talking about bras in more detail, because from weeks 18-29 I found my ribcage to be almost unbearably painful and achey and I couldn’t stand having a proper bra on. So I spent quite a lot of time testing out soft, unstructured crop tops and sleep tops. Note that these can be very different to the “non-wired” bra; they offer little in the way of proper support, a lot of them, but for lounging about the house and so on, perfect. (I actually took to wearing them full-time, even to go out, due to the aching rib scenario, but I can’t imagine that’s ideal for supporting the breast tissue. But I didn’t have an option, really, I was in too much pain!) My favourites so far have been this one by Wacoal (surprisingly supportive, much like a low-resistance kind of sports bra) and the sleep bra from Emma Jane. Emma Jane do loads of soft sleep and maternity bras (top photo) and have a variety of colours, but I find the completely seamless (and clasp-less) night bra the most comfy. You can find that one here. Cake Maternity do really comfy “crop top” style bras (see photo above) that are also fully-functioning, supportive nursing bras, so if you’re more towards the end of your pregnancy then these are a great investment as you’ll use them pre and post-baby. You can find those online here – the quality is great, very sturdy.


Yes, you can opt for maternity jeans early on (the ones with the very narrow “under bump” elasticated waistband) but I actually found that they still annoyed me a bit and I just wanted soft, stretchy leggings that would go right up and over my tummy so that no seams or elasticated waist bits touched my stomach. Perhaps not everyone would be as sensitive and irritable as me, but at any rate leggings are just great to have for lounging about in and are a bit more heavy-duty than tights, so good to wear under tunic style and longer-length tops. My favourite? These bamboo ones from Seraphine, which are so, so soft (thank you to the reader who recommended!) and for a budget “fix”, the maternity leggings from ASOS. The quality isn’t the same by any means, but they are pretty cheap and seem to have lasted quite well. I especially like the grey, but I think I bought mine in a two pack, here. They came up slightly large, so you might want to go down a size.

27 week baby bump photo

Vest Tops

For layering beneath long shirts and jumpers and cardigans; the ribbed vests from M&S here are really soft and stretch well (pictured above) – I discovered them at 27 weeks along, so they would be absolutely perfect to buy at the start of your pregnancy to carry you through the first six or seven months. I had a number of people recommending the stretchy “belly bands” to me in my first trimester, and you could absolutely get one (they are just a few quid) but I don’t think that they really become useful until later on, when tops start riding up over the bump and revealing the bottom of it! I haven’t actually used mine once. The best great, good quality vests that’ll last the duration of your pregnancy? Hush do ones that are really, really long – they cover most of your bottom as well as tummy and hips – more of a tunic than a top, I suppose. You can find them in loads of colours here.

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