NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — With big chains like Destination Maternity and Motherhood Maternity brands of the past, expecting parents in Connecticut are faced with little — or no — options for buying maternity clothing.

Patrice Luoma, a professor of entrepreneurship and strategy at Quinnipiac University, said there’s a few factors that have led to the shuttering of maternity stores across the nation.

One of the top causes? The emergence of online shopping, which has led to specialty retail stores closing their doors.

Luoma points to Big and Tall stores as an example, stating that when the stores close, those sections end up being absorbed into large department stores like Kohl’s and Macy’s.

“It’s much easier to create a brand and sell online than it is to rent or buy a physical space and open a store with merchandise,” she said.

People are more comfortable shopping online now, but fashion trends also come into play. Luoma said that women used to hide that they were pregnant. Now, that’s not the case.

“It’s acceptable to look pregnant today,” Luoma said. “So, that’s a good thing, and it’s acceptable to have a variety of clothing options.”

People are also less likely to invest in clothing they’ll only be wearing for a few months. Items like jackets can be worn throughout a pregnancy. Women can also substitute their regular clothing for a larger size.

“And so you don’t need to buy maternity clothing to wear,” Luoma said. “You can buy a stretchy t-shirt and you can wear that, and that’s fine.”

Luoma also points to declining birth rates for why the industry has seen less of a demand for specialized maternity clothing.

But, she said, the push to buying things online has also negatively impacted local economies.

“Online has really disrupted retail in a very major way so that we are all comfortable ordering things online,” she said. “And, sometimes, that means we’re probably not supporting the local businesses as much as we could.”