Here’s how to shop for maternity clothes overseas without losing your mind
(Photo: Unsplash, Igor Ovsyannykov)

This post is sponsored by The Breastfeeding Shop.

Here’s how to shop for maternity clothes overseas without losing your mind

When you’re growing another human, your clothes seem to shrink overnight. With my first pregnancy, it was a breeze to run to Target for a new batch of over-belly pants or another cute baby bump tunic.

Being overseas and pregnant? Let’s just say that options were limited.

Every mother-to-be should feel beautiful and, honestly, comfortable during those 40 weeks. Use these tips to find clothes that work from that positive test to post-birth.

Exchange Fashion

Your first stop should be the Exchange, land of tax-free savings and available on most military installations worldwide.

From personal OCONUS Exchange experience, the selection will be small. Essentially, you will be able to choose from one rack of pants, about a dozen tops, and a few different styles of dresses. There might also be yoga pants and pajamas, too.

For underwear, they have a few options for nursing bras and camisoles. However, none of these choices worked for me. Nothing really seemed to account for the fact that a pregnant and/or nursing mama’s breasts will grow several cup sizes. Everything available topped out at a large or C/D cup. All the bras and tanks were also the really loose sleeping style or offered minimal support. Those are great for lounging immediately post birth, but not ideal for literally anything else.

If you are in a pinch and need to wear something, the Exchange is a perfectly okay place to look around.

Shop local

It’s not like you’re stuck out in Antarctica. There are more than likely maternity clothing choices out in town. Clothes for pregnant ladies is something that almost every society needs and produces.

If you live in place with clothing sizes that are similar to the US, like Europe, this could be absolutely amazing. You’ll come back to the states with fabulous clothes for your next pregnancy or to pass on to a lucky friend.

I was stationed in Japan. I’m also 5’9” and can only rarely find clothing that fits me in local Japanese stores. Shopping off base while pregnant in Asia was not really a choice for me. If you can do this, I’m so jealous. Literally all of the Japanese maternity clothing and undies I saw looked so soft and comfortable.

Click, click, buy

If you are over the maternity selection at the Exchange or can’t find anything locally, there is always online shopping. As with buying anything online, there are always risks. My biggest fear was ordering something in a “normal” size, and having it be way too little or much too big. Luckily, this didn’t happen.

I’m glad that my online maternity shopping worked out because returning things from overseas didn’t really seem possible. Back home, if I ordered the wrong size or just didn’t like an outfit, I would pop into the local brick-and-mortar store to return things. You definitely can’t do that OCONUS!

Instead, I ordered from stores that I knew were tried and true. Old Navy was bookmarked in my browser and Pink Blush Maternity saw a little too much of my money. I knew that whatever I ordered from these two places would be, if not perfect, at least wearable.

Sell your stuff

One huge part of my OCONUS shopping experience was the resale pages. From the Bookoo pages and Craigslist to social selling groups on Facebook, there were so many places to score great deals on cute clothes.

Many women post huge lots of maternity clothes at very reasonable prices. I’ve seen several pairs of cute maternity jeans and dress pants for under $100 total. Often there are maternity ball gowns available, too. (The maternity ball gown rental businesses won’t ship OCONUS because of the hazards of the postal system.)

While I never actually bought anything on the resale pages, I did keep a close watch on them just in case. Holding down a professional career meant that I needed to look presentable daily. And while my bosses might have been okay with yoga pants every once in awhile, rocking that look often just didn’t fly.

When I’m finally ready to let go of my maternity collection, I’ll probably list everything on a resale page.

Swap and trade

The in-person maternity selection is either limited or sized too differently. Shopping online, without the possibility of returns, could be just too scary. While overseas, the best and easiest way to build a respectable maternity wardrobe is through hand-me-downs.

Trading maternity clothes is how I survived all nine (ten) months of my last pregnancy. A few good friends who happened to be just my size offered up their entire collections. I gratefully accepted and then went to put on the stretchy pants.

Right now, in my extended social group, there are a whole bunch of mamas-to-be who are wearing borrowed clothes. When they’re done with the collection, it is reassembled to be either passed back to the original owner or to another lady in need. In fact, I just sent all of my personal maternity clothing across the street to a neighbor.

The Breastfeeding Shop provides name-brand, high-quality breast pumps and breastfeeding supplies. Catering to the military community, the Breastfeeding Shop’s quick and easy service ensures that TRICARE beneficiaries can receive breast pumps and supplies at no-cost to them.

By Meg Flanagan