Your life doesn’t stop when you’re pregnant, and neither should your workouts. Once you get over the initial exhausted, morning-sickness hump and roll into the high-energy second trimester, there are tons of excellent reasons to hit the gym or pool. The US Department of Health & Human Services recommends getting in 150 minutes every week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity during pregnancy. What counts as moderate intensity? If your heart rate is up and you’re sweating but can still talk normally (you just couldn’t sing if you tried), you’re in the right zone. And mega benefits—such as reduced risk of gestational diabetes, cesareans and preeclampsia, not to mention improved physical and psychological well-being—make maternity fitness a no-brainer. Of course, you want to be comfortable and still look good (hey, we hear you). No sweat! Here are our picks for best maternity workout clothes from fitness experts and moms alike.
Do You Really Need Maternity Workout Clothes?
If you’re like most expectant moms, much of your pregnancy is spent buying things for baby—nursery furniture, clothes, diapers, often even a new home. So it’s common to not want to spend extra cash on maternity workout clothes you’ll wear for only a few months. And sure, in the first trimester, you can easily get away with rolling waist bands under your belly and stretching out tees you have instead of investing in actual maternity activewear. But eventually, usually around week 20, that belly is going to start showing and such measures become wildly uncomfortable.
Plus, to the surprise of many new moms, it’s not just a few months of wear. “In hindsight, had I known I’d wear maternity workout clothes after delivery, I’d have spent more,” says Olivia Koszuta, a Denver mom of a 3-month-old baby girl who took spin class twice weekly throughout her pregnancy. “I’m still wearing Old Navy maternity leggings at three months out! Pants just don’t fit normally for a while. It’ll probably take another three months for my belly to go down.”
Every pregnancy is different. It’s most important to assess the changes your body is experiencing and choose maternity activewear from there. Pick maternity workout clothes that ease any discomfort hampering your sweat sessions—whether that’s maternity sports bras and swim gear with more accommodating bust support, stretchier tees and tanks for growing bellies or maternity yoga pants with over-the-belly waists.
As your body changes and grows, you’ll quickly appreciate the value of maternity workout clothes, which are “designed to support and flatter an expectant mom’s bump,” says Melanie Darnell, a Los Angeles maternity fitness trainer and mom of three who founded Fitmomma Bootcamp. “You’ll get the extra support and length you need. Plus, feeling comfortable in your maternity workout clothes can be the confidence boost you need to get to the gym.” Koszuta agrees: “It was so nice hearing the girls in spin class say I looked cute in my fitness gear,” she says.
And good news: You don’t need to buy a ton of items or spend a fortune on maternity workout clothes—just a few key pregnancy workout clothes will do the trick. Here’s a breakdown of the types of exercise gear you may want to consider, plus a few favorite items from our experts and editors.
Maternity Sports Bras
One major body change many pregnant women experience (and many of their partners readily notice) is a rapidly growing bust. It’s often one of the first changes to cause discomfort, resulting in that familiar red ring that surfaces below the breasts when you’re wearing a bra that’s too small. That makes a well-fitting pregnancy sports bra (or two!) an essential component of your maternity workout clothes collection.
As early as six weeks into pregnancy, breasts can start growing larger. They’ll continue to balloon throughout pregnancy—in fact, many women go up one to two cup sizes. If you’re well endowed to begin with, pregnancy workouts can quickly become uncomfortable if you haven’t purchased a maternity sports bra.
One of the first moves for Calli De La Haye, a certified prenatal yoga instructor who co-founded Kalimukti Yoga, was to ditch all underwire designs and switch to a more comfy, forgiving style.
Some mom-favorite maternity sports bras include:
Cake Maternity Zest Flexi Wire High Impact Sports Racerback Maternity Bra
This maternity sports bra minimizes bounce, reduces friction and wicks away moisture—and it was Darnell’s top pick. It’s also available in sizes up to 40K.
Buy it: Starting from $78, Amazon.com
H&M MAMA 2-Pack Sleep Nursing Bras
On De La Haye’s list of must-haves: These nursing bras, which feature a soft, stretchy jersey and lined cups. Because why settle for just one maternity sports bra when you can get two comfy ones? Best of all, you’ll continue loving them even after baby is born.
Buy it: $30, HM.com
H&M MAMA 2-Pack Soft Nursing Bras
These aren’t technically maternity sports bras either, but they’re made from a soft, seamless fabric and include a wide elastic below the breasts. Both contribute to their super-stretchy-but-still-supportive comfort.
Buy it: $30, HM.com
Bravado Designs Body Silk Seamless Yoga Maternity/Nursing Bra
This maternity sports bra also comes without underwire and has nursing clips for prenatal and postnatal yoga. Better yet, it’s made from a super breathable fabric to keep you cool. (Because pregnancy can get pretty sweaty.)
Buy it: $49, Nordstrom.com
Belabumbum Maternity Sporty Mesh Nursing Bra
This maternity sports bra provides support and coverage as your chest grows during pregnancy and easy access for nursing—and it’s super-cute.
Buy it: Starting from $50, Belabumbum.com
Maternity Workout Tops
As you’re gathering up the best maternity workout clothes for your pregnancy, keep your eyes peeled for some good maternity workout tops. You’re looking for a shirt made in comfortable, stretchy fabric that won’t ride up on your belly. “You want tanks and tees that provide the flexibility for you to grow through your trimesters,” says Teri Lang Patterson, a certified fitness instructor in South Dakota and new mom.
Motherhood Maternity Sleeveless Scoop Neck Side Ruched Tank Top
This simple, sleeveless tank top is a solid option. (When my mom sent it to me during my pregnancy, it quickly became my go-to grab for daily walks.) Bonus: It’s available in plus sizes.
Buy it: Starting from $15, Amazon.com
FitBump Thalia Top
Looking for performance tee in fun bold colors? Consider this chicly ruched T-shirt.
Buy it: $52, FitBump.com
Ingrid & Isabel Maternity Side Zip Active Jacket
Working out in the cold? We like this maternity jacket. Why the side zips? They can be opened to accommodate a growing belly. Other notable features include thumb holes to keep the sleeves in place, plus stretchy moisture-wicking fabric.
Buy it: $88, Amazon.com
Motherhood Maternity French Terry Hooded Sweatshirt
This sweatshirt will keep you warm weather you’re active outdoors or lounging around at home post-workout.
Buy it: Starting from $24, Amazon.com
Maternity Workout Pants
No wardrobe of maternity workout clothes is complete without a few pairs of go-to bottoms. In terms of maternity workout pants, it’s all about having an easily expandable, comfy waist that won’t distract you from your workout. The moms we spoke with all like the over-the-belly style. “You can get maternity pants with elastic around the belly, but you get to a point where even those slide off,” Koszuta says. “That won’t happen with leggings that pull over your belly.” Looking for a good pair of maternity yoga pants? Trust us, the over-the-belly style will serve you well here too.
Maternity Yoga Pants
Motherhood Maternity Active Secret Fit Belly Boot Cut Yoga Pants
These maternity yoga pants have the brand’s exclusive stretch stomach panel that promises to grow with you. They’re also available in a wide range of sizes (including plus sizes) so you can really find the right fit.
Buy it: Starting from $24, Amazon.com
Beyond Yoga Maternity Practice Pants
Or, consider this pair. Yep, the trendy activewear brand makes pregnancy workout clothes, including maternity yoga pants and super-chic leggings.
Buy it: $93, BeyondYoga.com
Maternity Workout Leggings
Ingrid & Isabel Maternity Active Mesh Detail Capri
This pair of maternity workout pants sports a subtly chic graphic design that’s cut to cover the belly but keeps your back cool and gently supported.
Buy it: $88, Amazon.com
Old Navy Maternity Leggings
The moms we spoke with, as well as some instructors, swear by Old Navy’s maternity leggings, which come in different weights and basic dark colors. Julie Goldin, a New York City mom of a 5-month-old baby girl, picked them up when she started showing at seven months. “Highly recommended and affordable,” she says.
Buy it: Starting from $15, OldNavy.com
Maternity Workout Shorts
Gap The Maternity GapFit Running Shorts
On the hunt for maternity athletic shorts? These come in fun prints (like floral and marble) plus solid colors.
Buy it: $50, Gap.com
Old Navy Maternity Rollover-Waist Yoga Shorts
And we’d be remiss not to include Old Navy maternity workout shorts, considering how much the pregnant mamas we spoke to love the affordable brand. These have a rolling stomach panel to be adjusted to your liking. No wonder the maternity athletic shorts are a best-selling style.
Buy it: $18, OldNavy.com
A great exercise choice to ease lower-back pain during pregnancy is swimming. But buying athletic maternity swimsuits can be a challenge. “It wasn’t hard to keep teaching my water aerobics class while pregnant,” says Patterson, who taught into her 41st week. “What was hard was finding supportive swimwear for fitness. The top neck needs to be high enough to accommodate a growing chest and many maternity swimsuits don’t have a support feature under the breasts, which is essential.” Shopping for your own maternity swimwear? Check out these recommendations.
Prego Maternity Sport One Piece Swimsuit
After an exhaustive search, Patterson found one she liked: this swimsuit. It offers comfortable bust support courtesy of the soft sewn-in cups and band. It also has adjustable straps and stylish side paneling.
Buy it: Starting from $13, Amazon.com
EQ Swimwear Banded Maternity Lap Swimming Suit
This one-piece is another solid choice. It’s got a horizontal, stretchy band to support (and leave room for) an expanding bust.
Buy it: Starting from $79, Amazon.com
If you’re expecting and on the hunt for maternity activewear, it’s worth popping into a few stores to see what brands and price points you like best—the ones listed above are excellent places to start. You don’t have to break the bank stuffing your closets with maternity workout clothes, but a few key pieces (like an excellent maternity sports bra and some cute maternity yoga pants) can make a dramatic difference in how comfortable you are during your workouts—and how great you feel after them. And we’d say anything that gets you to the gym a bit more often is a sound investment.
Top Photo Model Credit: Christina Caruso / @christinacarusostyle
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, some of which may be sponsored by paying vendors.
Updated May 2019
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