When the Frugalwoods became pregnant, they were inundated to buy every pregnancy product available. Here’s how they kept costs down during their pregnancy.

When my husband and I found out we were pregnant last year, we were overwhelmed with excitement… which quickly turned into anxiety as I began researching all the things I was apparently supposed to buy in order to have the “best pregnancy ever.” Being a frugal gal, I decided to see how few pregnancy-related products I could purchase. Now that our daughter is here, I can say it’s entirely possible to spend almost nothing and still have a happy, healthy pregnancy.

How to Save on Maternity Clothes

The minute I saw that positive pregnancy test, the urge to do something—which so often in our culture translates into buy something—was darn powerful. Namely, I started imagining myself in cute maternity clothes that would connote my beatific mom-to-be status. Thankfully, I bided my time. Good thing too, because I didn’t actually wear anything maternity-related until well into my second trimester! Loose, stretchy clothes saw me through the first 16 weeks or so.

Once I legitimately needed to accommodate my bump, I quested for hand-me-downs. I turned to my sister, friends, my local Buy Nothing* group, and parent listservs to see if anyone had old maternity garb. Oh boy, did they ever. Maternity clothes are like Christmas trees: When the time is right, you really want them, but once the season is over, you really want them out of your house.

Turns out, I haven’t had to buy a single scrap of maternity clothing my entire pregnancy. Sure, not all the hand-me-downs are in perfect condition, or exactly the right size, or even my style, but they work. I decided I’d rather save money than look like a maternity model. After all, it’s chiefly about comfort. Trust me, while lugging around an extra 20 pounds, how fashionable I am is far from my mind. My thoughts are more along the lines of, “yay, these pants fit and I can even sit down in them!” Also, I can share from personal experience that no one notices if you wear the same black maternity pants to work every single day. If hand-me-downs aren’t available, scope out maternity thrift shops and select a few basic items.

*Buy Nothing facilitates giving away things for free to one’s neighbors. Check to see if there’s one in your area, and if not, consider starting your own Buy Nothing group.

Beware Anything Branded “Especially For Pregnancy”

I find that pregnancy-specific products primarily fall under the “wedding napkin” syndrome—as in, you didn’t know you needed personalized napkins until planning your wedding and then suddenly, marketing makes it seem like you absolutely must have them! Nope. By and large, this stuff is unnecessary and I reaped the same benefits from things I already own.

Pregnancy pillows: These contoured pillows are touted as must-haves for pregnant ladies, but I used a regular old pillow, either in between or underneath my knees, and slept just dandy. It’s so not worth it to shell out $60 for one of these bizarre contraptions.

Pregnancy food: During pregnancy, it’s ideal to simply maintain a healthy diet. That’s about all there is to it. I consumed a well-rounded diet with lots of vegetables, salmon, nuts, fruits, and other protein. To combat nausea in the first trimester, I relied on saltines, which are cheap and low calorie. When I craved specific dishes (for 10 weeks, all I wanted was tomato sauce), Mr. Frugalwoods cooked them for me at home; thus, our food budget hadn’t inflated despite having a tiny extra mouth to feed.

The antiquated adage of “eating for two” is false—my doctor told me to eat 300 to 500 extra calories a day, which isn’t all that many. And junk food and sweets are out—while I certainly indulged in the occasional treat, I didn’t binge on cake or tacos. I want to lose my pregnancy weight in short order after the baby is born, and I didn’t want to make that process even tougher on myself by overeating while gestating.

Pregnancy exercise classes: With the blessing of my doctor, I continued my regular exercise regimen of yoga and hiking throughout pregnancy. No need to seek out expensive or specialty pregnancy classes—it’s usually fine to continue with the same exercises conducted pre-pregnancy (with a doctor’s permission, of course).

Pregnancy books: Rather than expend cash for a spate of pregnancy- and baby-related reads, I checked them out from the library. This was an easy way to peruse dozens of texts without spending a dime. And with my library’s interlibrary loan program, any book I wanted to read was available.

Choosing Which Pregnancy Products to Buy

The two items I’ve found indispensable during pregnancy are prenatal vitamins and anti-stretch mark cream. Prenatal vitamins are a must, so I price-compared at Amazon, Costco, and CVS, as well as via prescription. Some insurance policies actually cover prescription prenatals in full, so it’s worth exploring the options.

For anti-stretch mark cream, I used Palmer’s Cocoa Butter nightly on my belly. So far, nary a stretch mark and my skin isn’t dry or itchy, so I’d say this was $8 well spent.

Other than those two purchases, I’ve relied on my hand-me-down maternity wardrobe and things we already had around the house. There’s a tendency with pregnancy—as with most major life events—to create an expectation of the need to spend tons of money, but it’s just not so. Pregnancy is a wonderful, miraculous time, but it’s also a time when it’s totally OK not to fall victim to consumer culture’s siren call to buy, buy, buy.


Mrs. Frugalwoods writes at www.frugalwoods.com about her journey to financial independence by age 33 and a homestead in the woods with her husband and their greyhound, Frugal Hound.

Any third-party resources or websites referenced above are not under Society of Grownups control. Society of Grownups cannot guarantee and are not responsible for the accuracy of the resources, websites, or any products or services available through such resources or websites.

While Society of Grownups hopes the information is useful, it’s only intended to provide general education. It’s not legal, tax, or investment advice, and may not apply or be useful to your specific financial situation. If you need recommendations geared to your personal financial situation, schedule time with a financial planner.

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