If you’re pregnant, it’s easy to convince yourself to stay planted on the couch, but your OB will be the first one to tell you that getting regular exercise has its major benefits. By getting moving, you will reduce aching and constipation, improve your energy levels, sleep better (a must!) and even make labor/delivery easier by strengthening your muscles. Even though you’re on board with the exercise advice, finding the right workout clothes for your growing belly can be difficult. You want them to be functional, yet still stylish — and most of all, comfortable. Why not just throw on an oversized tee sitting in your closet? Well, feeling confident in your clothing could be that little extra boost you need to feel motivated to work out.
Here’s a breakdown of the four things you want to consider when building your pregnancy workout wardrobe:
- Soft and breathable fabrics: When you’re already uncomfortable during pregnancy, the last thing you want to add to that is stiff clothing. Look for soft materials that naturally have some stretch to them like cotton with a nylon or polyester blend. You might find that you overheat when you’re carrying a child, so these breathable fabrics are ideal for all seasons. Also consider moisture-wicking materials that not only keep you dry during a workout but can be easier to take off when they’re not sticking to your skin.
- Size: Maternity sizes are the same as your regular size, so you don’t necessarily need to size up unless you feel more comfortable doing so. As your body changes, it’s nice to invest in workout wear that grows with you as opposed to just sizing up in your regular workout brands.
- Style and design: Unlike typical workout wear, tees and tanks might feature ruching on the side so it can accommodate a growing belly, plus you want them long enough so they don’t constantly ride up. Workout pants and shorts will likely feature over-the-belly waists that you can fold over if you’re still early on in your pregnancy, or if it feels more comfortable to do so. The wider waistbands will help you feel supported, but not overly squeezed. When it comes to workout bras, you’ll probably gravitate towards a wire-free option that has helpful features like removable cups for comfort and nursing clips if you decide to breastfeed.
- Extras: Belly bands can offer a ton of back support while you’re exercising and they all grow with your belly. If you’re experiencing swollen ankles and feet, consider knee-high compression socks that offer some relief.
The good news is that building your workout wardrobe only takes a few key pieces. These days there are even more options to choose from: There are your mall stores you already know and love (like Nike, more on that below) that carry activewear collections, but there are also entire brands devoted to clothes just for pregnant women. We dive into our editor favorites:
Nike (M) Swoosh
Three years in the making, Nike recently launched their dedicated maternity line: a four-piece collection that consists of a bra, leggings, tank top and pullover. Every piece is meant to grow with your changing body, including our editor’s pick, which features an expandable band and hidden layers for nursing or pumping postpartum. The medium-level support is great for lower impact exercises like pilates and cycling and the wireless design lends optimal comfort.
Ingrid and Isabel
This brand meets all of your expectations when it comes to maternity activewear: durable and stretchy styles, super-soft and moisture-wicking fabric, plus a flattering fit. But what makes their pieces special is the built-in crossover panel featured in all their bottoms, like these leggings. It hugs the belly to offer support, yet the crossover style releases tension and pressure from your back and hips. We also love that it can be worn both to cover your belly or folded down if that’s more comfortable (or your belly needs some air!).
Hatch is known for its chic, sophisticated clothing at every stage of pregnancy. While these aren’t technically “workout” leggings (so they don’t have the moisture-wicking benefits of other bottoms out there), we had to throw these on your radar for their incredible comfort and stretch (it features 8% spandex). The no-elastic waistband can either cover your belly and keep it supported or you can roll it down. It doesn’t offer compression, but it’s a great everyday legging that can take you from your outdoor workout class to a curbside coffee run—and any errand in between.
This tank has seamless stretchiness in all the right places and supportive panels that hug your belly while still letting you move around with comfort. The cross-back style of the tank offers your back and chest seamless support to alleviate heaviness. While it looks very fitted, it’s not compressed in the belly portion, so it allows you to grow. Plus, it’s completely opaque and thicker than regular tanks or workout tops, so as your belly expands you won’t have any awkward sheerness.
To top off your workout look this winter, throw on a cropped sweater to keep your upper half warm. We love the oversized fit that gives you plenty of room to grow and the ribbed cuffs mean the sleeves won’t ride up as you workout.
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