Maternity corset!!! See how the front panels can be let out? Pregnant women could and did wear corsets for much of the pregnancy - if nothing else, the "girls" needed quite a lot of support as they grew bigger. And it would be possible to let out the middle while keeping the bottom tighter to come up under the belly for support. Most of the seams in this one are corded (threaded with cords) rather than stiff steels - softer, more flexible. A corset gives good back support as well.