What is (or was) your favorite brand for maternity clothing? What specific articles of clothing did you find indispensable when you were pregnant? Were there some items that carried through to postpartum and did double duty making them an extra great purchase?
Don't have any brand-specific recommendations, but the things I've found most indispensible are:
1. A pair of black stretchy (but not tight) pants that I've had through two pregnancies now. Looks good with everything, and can be worn from the second trimester on.
2. A good pair of maternity jeans that I bought at Goodwill that I wear around the house.
3. A maternity (black) cardigan that I bought on clearance at Motherhood Maternity Outlet.
4. A pair of knee-length brown stretchy maternity pants that I wear for shorts (when it's warm enough). (I like them so well, I sometimes wear them when I'm NOT pregnant).
I found a really cute pair of maternity skinny jeans at H&M on clearance for $7. The quality wasn't great (the belly band was super droopy), but they were my go-to pants for making me feel normal and somewhat stylish during the winter months. Once spring hit, I was wearing Old Navy and Target sun dresses pretty much without fail. Target usually has fun stretchy dresses that aren't maternity but that fit me until I gave birth (and I did NOT carry small), so that's an option too if you don't want a ton of actual maternity stuff.
I've been happy with my Old Navy purchases. Leggings are a staple.
I have had a wide variety of maternity clothes, almost exclusively hand-me-downs (or shared stash), especially with this pregnancy and my last (twin) pregnancy. Here is what I feel I have learned:
1. Consignment/used clothes are your best friends. There are actually a couple of online services that are essentially rental or consignment maternity clothes. Could be worth it - especially for an "odd" item that you would otherwise never buy.
2. Unfortunately, you do kind of get what you pay for, just like with other things. The less expensive stores/brands/items are fine for a few wears, but tend to be itchy/shrink/wash poorly. Shop sales, eBay, etc.
3. Because I am relatively tall (32-ish inch inseam) and don't tend to gain a lot of weight ("morning" sickness, also known as hyperemesis for about 22 weeks each time), I have better luck buying small - tall sizes from places like the Gap and Old Navy. Otherwise I end up with high-waters after a wash or two. And that just bugs me, personally.
4. These last two pregnancies, I actually scored some AWESOME "designer" jean hand-me-downs, and I have to be honest ... they are awesome. They are better than Gap, Old Navy, Motherhood, Pea in the Pod, or Japanese Weekend, all of which I had tried before. I think I have one pair of "seven" and one pair of Hudson jeans. If you can beg/borrow/get used, you might really, really love those. Personally, I would NOT pay full price for them (I am a bit on the frugal side of the equation, with my fifth child en route, ha ha) but one thing to know is that there is a VERY active resale market on eBay for all of those designer-y type jeans, so even if you do spend a bit, you're likely to get at least some of it back if you're willing to sell them at the end. They just fit better, wear better, and wash better, darn it (sorry if that offends anyone's sensibilities).
5. Consider carefully what your lifestyle is/what you will really need most, as well as seasonality. For me, it was jeans/sweaters/sweatshirts. I don't work out of the home, and the few places I go aren't all that dressy - jeans or cords were fine. I think I inherited a few skirts, but if I've worn more than 2x, I'd be surprised. For someone who works in an office setting, needs would be different. Right now, I am living in the two fancy jeans I inherited, a bunch of long-sleeved Gap maternity shirts, and three cardigan-like sweaters/sweatshirts that came from my SIL. In other words, you don't need a ton of QUANTITY, just what feels good and is appropriate for where you actually go. In terms of seasonality, you will need full-panel pants toward your due date, but probably not until the third trimester (or late second). When you're shopping/buying, try to consider season and relative size, too.
6. I really like the Gap basic T-shirts. I find they wash and wear very well, and fit me a bit better than Old Navy (they're a hair longer in the torso, and a bit broader in the shoulders, both of which are good fits for my body.) This could be very personal and might vary from item to item. You should try out a few things and see what you can find.
7. I did not buy maternity underwear. I just get the super-stretchy kinds (knock-off Hanky Panky thongs/boyshorts/bikinis - whatever I can find online, on sale) that are One Size and go with it. Keep in mind that I do not gain very much weight, so this might not be practical for everyone (I am +14 lbs at 37 weeks). However, I DO think it's worth it to splurge on supportive, good-fitting bras!! (again, this may be personal, as I am very large-breasted, and cannot stand floppy breasts for 9 months). I also do like a maternity gown/PJs/robe occasionally (especially if we have company). I got something from Target with the twins, Liz Lange brand, and it's been fine/not expensive.
8. Most of my family and friends seem to do really, really well with Target, Motherhood, and Old Navy. That's a lot of what I inherited. However, it's NOT most of what I actually wear, just due to my body shape and fit. I think that your first pregnancy, you need SO MUCH/so many staples, that you're better off spending at ON to get more items for your dollars spent. After that pregnancy, assuming you have others, you can "fill in" with some more expensive items to round out your wardrobe (which is likely bigger due to shared items from friends the second time around.)
HTH!! Such an exciting time.
Old Navy. ON and Target are pretty much the only places that sell maternity clothes in my size at realistic prices. My favorite basics are my jeans and t-shirts with the shirred side seams. They're layerable, and so much more flattering (at least for me) than the tent-shaped tops.