What are maternity jeans?

Maternity jeans are jeans that are designed especially to accommodate your growing bump. They do this in a number of ways, from either having a higher waistband that comes over your bump, a low cut that sits under your bump, and by having a waistband that either adjusts or can ‘give’ to handle your changing size.


What style do you want?

As with normal jeans, the maternity versions come in various styles to suit your shape and tastes:

  • Bootcut/Bootleg – less roomy at the ankle than a flare cut, bootcut is slim around the thigh, tapered to the knee and from then down to the hem it’s slightly wider to allow for a pair of boots underneath.
  • Flare – usually worn below the waist, a flare cut is similar to bootleg, but the cut is wider and more flared out from the knee.
  • Boyfriend/Boyfit/Carpenter – so called because they’re loose and baggy, and they look like you might have nabbed them from your man! Immensely comfortable, they also tend to have lots of pockets.
  • Skinny – look great with ballet flats, heels or knee-high boots, the skinny cut is slim-fit tapered through to the end of the ankle.
  • Slim – rather like skinny jeans, but the slender cut closely grazes your curves rather than clinging to them. Very easy to wear.
  • Straight – A classic style where the jeans are usually cut straight down from the waist with a slim fitting through the ankles and bottom.
  • Jeggings – Jeggings have the look of leggings, but are made from a more denim-like material, usually with an elasticated waist or fake fly.
  • Cargo – very similar to combat trousers, but made from denim. Cargo-style jeans have a wide-leg cut and pockets by the sides of the knees. They are usually available in full-length or mid-calf styles.

Do you want an over or under the bump style?

This purely depends on two factors: comfort and style preference.

What over the bump jeans offer:

  • Feel more secure
  • Keeps you and your bump warm
  • Offer more support
  • Don't always feel very stylish or sexy when on

What under the bump jeans offer:

More like this
  • Popular with first-time mums-to-be
  • Better for women who develop sensitive skin on their belly
  • Can be worn after pregnancy and still look good
  • Can slip down easily (avoid this by looking for a style with a higher-rise back or a stretchy waistband)
  • Need to invest in maternity tops if you're worried about showing off your bump and skin.

Do you want zip-free jeans?

When your bump gets quite big it can be difficult to do up trousers and you don't want to be fumbling with zips or buttons when you can't actually see what you're doing. Also, lots of pregnant women experience really sensitive skin around their bump, so you don't want anything scratching or irritating you.

Most maternity stores now stock pull-on jeans, which come with a soft jersey panel around the waist. Some have a fake zipper attached, so the metal from the fly doesn't irritate your skin. Pull-on options come in both under the bump and over the bump styles.

If you decide that pull-on jeans aren't for you and you choose a pair with a conventional zip and button or buttons, make sure there's either stretchy side panels or button-adjustable elastic built into the sides to allow for further growth and everyday comfort. Bear in mind that buttons and hard seams can also dig into your skin and cause discomfort.


Do you want them to have a longer life?

While pregnancy last nine months, you won't need a pair of maternity jeans for the whole time. In the early weeks, you regular pair will probably still fit. And if you’re watching your budget, buying lots of clothes that you'll only use for a short time won’t be ideal.

However, maternity fashion retailers are now following the main high street trends, and making their offerings look less like pregnancy clothes. Mamas & Papas and Dorothy Perkins, just to name two, have started designing their clothes with an invisible waistband adjuster at the back or sides. It looks like a little button and a bit of elastic with various holes to tighten or let out the waistband as required. This means you can accommodate bump growth and also tighten the waist back in post-pregnancy.

Also, if you know you’re planning another baby, think about whether you want to invest in maternity pieces that can last more than one pregnancy.


What kind of fabric do you want?

Denim! Sounds obvious, right? Well, there are different options to consider. Normal denim can be a bit scratchy with hard seams, but most pregnancy styles now incorporate 1%-2% elastane for comfort and movement. The higher the elastane percentage, the stretcher they will be. Some stretch jeans have 5% elastane in them, or you can always buy a pair of jeggings and be ultra on-trend.

Also consider the colour. Depending on what industry you’re in, you might find a darker denim shade or black jeans are suitable for the workplace when teamed with a pair of chic ballet pumps, oversized shirt and blazer jeans.


Where do you start?

If you're still undecided as to which pair of maternity jeans are for you, we’ve got the latest maternity fashion news to keep you up-to-date with the latest trends.


We’ve also complied a trend report on the best maternity jeans to save you time.