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, 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 fitness and psychological well-being—make maternity fitness a no-brainer. Of course, you want to be comfortable andstill look good (hey, we hear you). No sweat! Here are our picks for best maternity workout clothes from fitness experts and moms alike.
DO I REALLY NEED MATERNITY WORKOUT CLOTHES?
If you’re like most expectant moms, much of your pregnancy is spent buying things for baby—furniture for baby’s nursery, 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 a only 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. 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. Then pick up the maternity workout clothes that ease any discomfort hampering your sweat sessions—whether that’s sports bras and bathing suits with less restrictive support, stretchier tees and tanks for growing bellies or leggings with over-the-belly waists.
As you change and grow, 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, an 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 items will do the trick. Here’s a breakdown of the types of exercise clothes you may want to consider, plus a few favorite items.
MATERNITY SPORTS BRAS
One major body change many pregnant women experience (and many of our 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. Which makes pregnancy sports bras an essential component of your maternity workout clothes.
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 adjusted to a new 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:
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