The Best Postpartum Shapewear for Gentle Compression and Support
There’s no denying it: Becoming a mom is hard work. After nine+ months of preparing for baby and the actual labor, followed by a post-birth recovery, this stage of life can be a whirlwind (to say the least!). Aside from the emotional highs and lows of new parenthood, your body goes through a lot of physical changes too. Of course, all bodies are beautiful, but some people struggle to regain body confidence after having a child. While it’s certainly not a fix-all solution, postpartum shapewear can serve two purposes: It aids in recovery and helps new moms look and feel their best.
Shapewear is having a serious fashion moment right now, and many maternity brands are taking note. From belly wraps to super-supportive underwear and leggings that offer light compression, new moms have plenty of options to choose from. Read on to learn more about postpartum shapewear solutions and discover a few of our favorite brands.
Shapewear has come a long way since those unsightly, beige undergarments women kept hidden at the back of their drawer. These days the line between underwear and outerwear has blurred, meaning you can buy chic shapewear that can be incorporated into your everyday wardrobe (think smoothing tank tops and compression leggings). But don’t get it twisted—shapewear that claims to help women “bounce back” to their pre-pregnancy size is a farce. According to Maria Silver Pyanov, CPD, a certified postpartum doula and childbirth educator Philadelphia, new parents should avoid shapewear that’s uncomfortable and overly restrictive—especially if it’s marketed as a weight-loss wrap or waist trainer. There’s no quick fix; over time, your body will recover with the help of a balanced diet and gentle exercise. Pyanov’s advice is to concentrate on how amazing your body is: “You literally grew an entire human. That’s no small feat! Your body is inevitably going to change and it’s okay to struggle with that.” With that caveat, shapewear can offer a few benefits to new moms. Here are a few reasons to consider postpartum shapewear:
Stretchy shapewear clings to your post-pregnancy curves, holds everything in place and has a smoothing effect when worn underneath clothes.
Some garments—like belly bands and recovery wraps—are designed to support abdominal muscles during the postpartum period. According to Heather Bartos, MD, an ob-gyn and the medical director of Be. Women’s Health and Wellness in Frisco, Texas, shapewear helps to shape the abdominal muscles and help with support during everyday activities that require core strength (think: sitting up or standing for long periods of time).
Postpartum shapewear can help to improve posture and reduce lower back pain. During pregnancy, the abdominal muscles may be compromised, and in the postpartum stage people tend to overcompensate by using their back muscles, explains Pyanov. This can result in lower back pain. Compression tanks and binders offer a feeling of security in the postpartum stage and serve as a reminder to engage the abdominal muscles and practice better posture.
Postpartum shapewear offers light compression that helps to alleviate swelling and pressure, particularly around a c-section incision.
Here are four brands that create shapewear solutions for pregnancy and postpartum.
Belly Bandit This cult-favorite brand is our go-to for supportive belly wraps that combat common postpartum ailments, like diastasis recti. But they also offer other postpartum shapewear solutions, such as smoothing briefs, sculpting girdles and more.
Blanqi Blanqi creates underwear and sportswear for pregnancy and postpartum. From tank tops to seamless undies, each item is made from buttery-soft fabric that wicks moisture away from the skin to keep you feeling cool and supported.
Leonisa Leonisa’s maternity and postpartum shapewear collection is small but mighty. The brand’s innovative compression panties feature a built-in belly wrap that provides all the support you need, but is virtually invisible when worn underneath clothes.
Skims The current shapewear trend owes a lot of its success to Skims founder, Kim Kardashian. While the collection doesn’t yet include shapewear for postpartum, the maternity offering is top-notch—and many items may work equally well for new moms.
When it comes to shapewear, that fabric choice is essential: Bartos recommends choosing items made from cotton or bamboo. If you do go for something made from non-breathable fabric, wear a soft layer underneath to avoid skin irritation. “And don’t worry about vanity sizing! Get a size that really fits you—there’s nothing worse than having too-tight support garments,” says Bartos. Ready to start your search? Below, our picks of the best postpartum shapewear for new moms.
Lift your booty and smooth your tummy with these cute boyshorts by Blanqi. Ideal for the post-birth recovery stage, these undies have a compressive core and a mid-rise fit for gentle support where you need it most. Better yet, these pants are incredibly comfortable, thanks to a stretchy, breathable fabric and flatlock seams that won’t irritate sensitive skin.
Control the level of support with this postpartum shapewear by Leonisa. The slimming underwear boast a built-in belly-wrap panel and velcro fasteners, which can be adjusted to suit your preferred level of compression. There are no hooks or zippers, and the covered leg and waistbands mean you can say goodbye to visible panty lines.
Thought postpartum shapewear was all about aesthetics? Think again. Kindred Bravely’s Soothing Fourth Trimester Panty was designed to help with pain after a vaginal or c-section delivery. The soft, thick fabric offers gentle compression to reduce swelling, and the high-waisted cut provides optimal comfort. Ready for the real standout feature? These undies have three discreet pockets (one in the gusset, one on the front and one at the back) that can hold warm or cool gel packs to help ease discomfort.
A list of the best shapewear wouldn’t be complete without a pair of Spanx in the mix. And while these cotton briefs weren’t created for the postpartum stage, we think they’ll provide the perfect level of comfort for moms that crave gentle support. Made from soft pima cotton with a touch of lycra, these panties mold to your body and never lose their shape.
Whatever your size, postpartum shapewear can help smooth your silhouette. For plus-size moms, we recommend the Post Pregnancy Panty Shaper by Motherhood Maternity. Made from a soft and stretchy cotton blend, these undies offer full coverage, waist definition and supreme comfort.
Searching for an all-in-one postpartum shapewear solution? Look no further than the Bumpsuit. Made from a four-way stretch fabric, the body shaper snatches your curves and supports your core. The best part? It can be worn during pregnancy and throughout the postpartum stage, so you get serious bang for your buck.
Part corset, part belly wrap—this clever garment cinches your waist and helps strengthen core muscles. The patented design offers five levels of compression, and stayput technology keeps it firmly in place. Unlike a rigid girdle, the belly wrap is ultra-thin, breathable and discreet. It even arches up at the back to minimize any back bulge. Genius!
Don’t want to hide your curves under layers of clothing? We hear you. Designed to look just like a regular pair of biker shorts, this sculpting pair has an extra-high waistline that gently compresses your stomach and lower back. The breathable fabric is touchably soft and seam-free for added comfort. We also like the fact that the shorts are totally opaque (meaning no more VPL). Wear these postpartum shapewear shorts with a sports bra at the gym or with an oversized tee while running errands with baby.
Here’s yet another piece of postpartum shapewear that you can work into your everyday wardrobe: The Post Maternity Shaping Nursing Top by Seraphine. The top, designed with 360-degree compression, smoothes and supports your post-pregnancy figure. And as the name suggests, this pick is nursing friendly. Simply release the drop cups when it’s time to feed baby.
Last up on our list of the best postpartum shapewear are these high-waisted leggings by Bellefit. The high-rise pair feature a silicone waistband to prevent rolling and a double abdominal panel for tummy control. The ankle-length leggings also offer light compression to ease achy legs. Bonus: This pair has pockets!
About the experts:
Heather Bartos, MD, is an ob-gyn and the medical director of Be. Women’s Health and Wellness in Frisco, Texas. A navy veteran, she spent 12 years serving the women and spouses of the armed forces. She earned her medical degree at The University of Texas at Houston.
Maria Silver Pyanov, CPD, CCE, is a certified postpartum doula, birth doula and childbirth educator. She provides services to new and expecting parents in the Philadelphia area.
Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.