You deserve to look and feel good throughout your pregnancy. It's not always easy though, especially when your clothes and finances are getting tight. Our advice will help you to look your best, without breaking the bank.

What basic maternity clothes do I need?

You may be tempted to try to survive pregnancy with the bare minimum of maternity clothing. But remember that your pregnancy could span a couple of seasons of weather. And you'll probably still need to wear maternity clothes for a while after birth. Investing in a few multi-purpose items is key, such as:

  • A pair of maternity pants or skirt with an under-the-belly fit that provides comfort and looks stylish. Make sure they come with adjustable waistbands so they stretch to fit your changing tummy.
  • Two pairs of maternity jeans, jeggings or leggings with adjustable waistbands. If you can't find maternity jeans, try men's jeans. If you can find the right size, they'll fit snugly under your bump, avoiding the unattractive "high-waisted look".
  • Well-fitting undergarments that provide support.
  • Two to three casual tops or kurtas that can be teamed with skirts, pants, capris or jeans. Cool chikankari tops and kurtas in neutral colours can be teamed up with a host of colours and outfits.
  • A cardigan or light jacket.
  • A plain sweater or wrap that can be worn over most outfits.
  • Two formal tops for special occasions.
  • A formal salwar kameez. Pick a blouse or choli which will go with two or three of your favourite sarees. Or get an old one altered for traditional celebrations.
  • Two or three empire line dresses. Even if you usually stay away from dresses, you'll find them useful when fitted clothes get uncomfortable due to your growing bump.
  • Kaftans and poncho tops for lounging at home.
  • One or two wraps around cotton skirts. These are ideal for the hot weather and the waistband can be adjusted to suit your growing belly.
  • Opt for tracksuits or pants in lightweight stretch jersey for comfortable wear. The cotton will stretch, but consider buying a size or two bigger than normal.
  • For more variety, pick a range of cheap, colourful T-shirts and sleeveless vest style tops or ganjis. These are easily available in stores selling export surplus goods.

What's the best way to accessorise?

An easy way to change your look without spending a fortune is with accessories. Beads, bangles, bags, watches, scarves, vibrant dupattas, stoles, shawls and shoes, the possibilities are only as limited as your imagination! The most basic of wardrobes can be brightened up with new shoes, jewellery, or a belt that sits below your bump. And you can continue to wear your new accessories after your baby is born.

It is fine to use your regular footwear so long as they are flat or low heeled, provide good support, and are well cushioned. If your footwear is not proper, you could come down with lower-back problems. You may find it difficult to balance in high heels and may trip or fall and hurt yourself.

Where can I buy budget maternity clothes?

Here are some great ways to buy pregnancy clothes and save some money:

Try buying from shops that sell maternity clothes. If you're lucky, the end-of-season sales will coincide with your pregnancy. It may feel strange buying winter clothes at the beginning of summer, especially if they look worryingly big so early on in your pregnancy. But thinking ahead can help you to save money.

If you are a fan of internet shopping then you can find some great deals online. Some e-retail stores often sell discontinued lines, ex-catalogue clothing and ends-of-range at throwaway prices. You could also take a print out of the most popular maternity styles and have your tailor stitch them on similar lines at maybe a fraction of the cost.

Have a look at online auction sites. You may find bundles of maternity clothes at bargain prices. Once your back to your pre pregnancy weight, try auctioning your maternity clothes online.

Look for maternity tops that will adapt into breastfeeding tops once your baby is born.

Do I need to buy new maternity clothes?

You may be surprised by what you can get for free. Here's what you can do:

If you don't mind sharing clothes or using hand-me-downs, host a clothes-swapping event. Invite your pregnant relatives and friends, and those who are already mums. The latter should have maternity clothes they feel more than happy to part with. And they may like to borrow some of your clothes in exchange.

Adapt what you already have. Make do with your existing clothes by wearing longer tops hiding the fact that you've left the top button undone on your trousers. As your pregnancy matures, with a bit of crafty needlework or with the help of a good tailor, you could use buttons and fabric panels or strips to temporarily extend or alter your favourite clothes.

When your elastic waistbands feel like they are going to give way anytime under the strain of your tummy, you could replace them with a drawstring.Old elasticated harem pants, salwars and hosiery churidars can all be teamed up with kurtas and loose tops.

Borrow your spouse's clothes. If you're just relaxing at home, raid your husband's wardrobe. His shirts and sweatshirts are bound to be big enough. You can save your own clothes for when people will actually see you. The elasticated waist on men's boxer shorts and pyjama bottoms makes them comfortable to wear in bed.