Maternity clothing is worn by women in some cultures as an adaptation to changes in body size during pregnancy. Dresses did not follow a wearer's body shape until the Middle Ages. When western European dresses began to have seams, affluent pregnant women opened the seams to allow for growth. The Baroque Adrienne was a waistless pregnancy gown with many folds. Aprons were also worn, to close the opening left by jackets. 19th century maternity clothing was tailored to hide pregnancy. For many decades during the 20th century, maternity wear was considered a 'fashion backwater.' Pinafores were the most common style and were often sold through nursery shops. Maternity clothing hasn't generally been considered a potentially profitable area for most major clothing manufacturers.
Contributions by Gwen Gale, Mammystore, and Gandydancer.