I was pregnant with my first son in the winter. It was cold! I was cold! And, of course, there was my big ol' pregnant belly, which stretched the limits of my very cute pink tweed wool coat. Finally, I had to do it: I broke down and bought a maternity coat. Luckily, I was passing through the outlet mecca of Maine and picked up a nice black wool-blend pea coat for super-cheap. Because, let's be honest: It sucks to drop major dough on something you'll likely only be wearing for a few months—if that.
The recent freezing cold weather has many mamas-to-be facing a similiar dilemma, wondering whether they should invest in a maternity coat—or tough it out with creative layering. Here's what we think: If you've only got a few weeks to go when you hit the can't-button-your-coat mark, just bundle up underneath and wear your regular coat, or borrow your hubby's parka. (No one expects you to look fashion-forward when you're almost 40 weeks pregnant!) But if you need both hands to count the weeks until your due date, you'll probably want to make the investment.
Need more advice? Here's what moms and moms-to-be said on our message boards:
"My coat now is getting tight. My [boobs] and belly are making it hard to do up [and] soon I won’t be able to wear a sweater with the coat... I really don't want to spend the money... I was thinking of getting a poncho..."—Daily3600
"I am not going to waste money on a maternity coat at this point. I guess I'm just going to layer shirts and sweaters... I'm not spending the money on a coat I'll only wear for 2 months."—Mommydh
"Baby #3 was a March baby and I really did need a coat living in Minnesota. I sprung for a maternity one since I figured I could resell it..."—calebsmoma2000
Calebsmoma2000 and I seem to be among the few who found a winter coat to be must-have maternity wear. In fact, I'm the only one of my winter-baby friends who actually bought a new maternity coat. Most simply made due, like my friend Katy who unearthed a giant, shapeless parka from the back of her closet to keep her warm. When even that got too tight, she stole her husband's old barn coat. "What can I say? I'm cheap like that," she says. Lauren, a mom of three, never had one. "I may not look good in my coat, but I don't care! Coats are too expensive for a maternity item." My friend Denise borrowed one (lucky!). "I was thrilled when someone gave me one," she said. "I probably could have lived without it, but I was trying to walk outside every day for exercise, and that wouldn't have been possible without a big puffy coat."
While it may seem frivolous, I'm happy I had my coat. Being very pregnant is uncomfortable enough without trying to stay warm in an ill-fitting coat. Plus, lending it out to fellow mamas-to-be always made me happy. There's even a post-birth benefit as well: I wore my son in a carrier and I just wrapped my coat around him that winter—and the next!
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.