Maternity clothes have come a long way over the course of fashion history (need some examples? okay!):
Colonial Williamsburg maternity clothes- really just the same dresses let out to accommodate expanding bellies:
Early 1900's the first commercially available maternity clothes are sold- and incidentally, Lane Bryant was one of the front runners of the mass produced maternity apparel. Pregnancy was considered a taboo topic to discuss publicly, so Lane Bryant had to plead with the New York papers to let them advertise. And it's a good thing they did- within a day of their ads running, Lane Bryant sold out of their stock! Most Lane Bryant maternity customers apparently preferred shopping via mail order as to avoid "having to go out in their condition".
I do have a few shopping tips for other fellow preggos. The main thing I've discovered is that it's often better to buy a few pieces as you move along in the pregnancy, vs. one major shopping spree at the beginning. You get sick of your limited wardrobe VERY quickly, and being able to add a few new tops or dresses every month is a fun thing to look forward to. Also, you never know what shape your belly is going to take, and you might find that some tops or pants fit you better than others. I have found that I prefer the full-panel pants and shorts best- although the mid-rise panel was okay early on, it because increasingly uncomfortable because the waistband seemed to press right across my stomach. So, it might not be as sexy, but I'm a full-panel girl!
Maternity clothes are also pretty pricey. Even up until this point, I've had decent luck finding cute tops here and there in the maternity sections at discount department stores like Ross and Marshall's, or even looser regular tops that worked really well in the first and 2nd trimester- and their $8 price tags are much easier to stomach (heh) than the $30 or $40 price tags at Motherhood Maternity. I will say though that I'm glad I bought well-made maternity work pants (I have black, gray, and brown long pants, and khaki and black capris, in addition to a few pairs of jeans) because they hold up well, and I'm able to mix and match less expensive tops to put together different outfits. A Pea in the Pod is definitely pricier than their sister company, Motherhood Maternity, but I do think their clothes fit a little bit better. I own a few dresses and a few tops from there that I enjoy wearing, but overall it's a little harder for me to justify the price difference. Old Navy Maternity and Target Maternity are great places to stock up on casual items and lounge wear, and Target Maternity swim suits worked well for me! I also suggest checking out consignment stores and online shopping like eBay, but you probably should get a good feel for the different fits of brands before you venture online because I definitely like some more than others!