I like to say that a maternity session is essentially an anniversary session with a bump, so I thought I'd round out our little anniversary session series with some tips for maternity sessions. There are two main considerations: when to schedule and what to wear.
WHEN TO SCHEDULE:
It's easy to put off scheduling a maternity session, because you want to have a nice, rounded bump for their session. Most mamas 'pop' sometime between 20 and 30 weeks. After 30 weeks, it's common to experience swollen feet and the general feeling of uncomfortableness just seems to increase week by week until delivery. And of course, some babies come early, so you might miss your chance for a maternity session if you schedule it for 37 weeks or later.
We did our maternity session at 30 weeks and I'm so glad we did, because my finger was already swelling and I had to stop wearing my ring right after that. I wore a flowy dress for our session, so I felt like my bump wasn't super noticeable unless I was holding underneath my belly. But looking back at my weekly bump photos, I think I started to look 'great with child' around 34 weeks and I can see a little bit of puffiness in my face at that point too. So 30 weeks was the perfect time for us.
I typically book sessions 6-8 weeks ahead of time so we have plenty of time to decide on a location and you have time to go shopping, so I recommend inquiring between 18 and 22 weeks.
WHAT TO WEAR
The most flattering maternity session dresses are ones with a defined empire waistline. Wearing a dress with a seam between the bust and the belly (or tightly fitted throughout the torso) is my #1 tip for mamas who express a concern that they will look 'big' instead of pregnant. We will also do a lot of poses with the arms around the belly, which will help to define the waist.
In addition to an empire waistline, the most flattering dresses are either tight fitting over the belly or flowy over the bump. The key is to avoid styles that are shapeless and overly-drapey, because you'd look bigger in the photos than you actually are in real life. If you really want to highlight your bump, wear a tight fitting dress. This is also a great tip if you're concerned that your bump isn't obvious enough.
Soft colors, flowy fabrics, and dresses that cover the arms are all super flattering and beautiful on camera.
A few photos from my weekly bump series to illustrate... Notice the difference in the gray dress when it's belted? Without the belt to define my waistline at 33 weeks pregnant, I feel like I just look big. And the stretchy shift-style dress is a great compromise if you want something fitted without being skin tight.
I LOVED the purple dress and wore it constantly during my pregnancy. The belt was perfect for defining a waist, but it is very flowy, so holding under the belly helps to define my bump. The blue on the other hand, is form fitting and would have been perfect for a maternity session. (If only it was a dress and not a top!)
WEAR TO SHOP
I purchased my signature purple dress from Sew Trendy Accessories, which offers a ton of gorgeous maternity gowns that are PERFECT for photo sessions. I also love everything from Wren and Ivory. They have 'bump friendly' dresses that can be now and after the baby is born! And of course, Pink Blush Maternity is another great site to browse!
Want to Read More About Anniversary & Maternity Sesssions?
Why I Love Anniversary Sessions
Why We're Doing Another Anniversary Session
Choosing a Location
My Favorite Hampton Roads Locations
What To Wear
What Not to Wear
What Happens if it Rains
How I Chose My Outfits
Maternity Session Tips