recommended by experts

The Best Maternity Workout Clothes, According to Experts

Photo: Josh Fogel

When you’re pregnant, dressing comfortably is key, especially during a workout. While it might sound obvious, Deb Flashenberg, the founder of the Prenatal Yoga Center in Manhattan, says to “make sure the clothes are breathable and that nothing is going to feel too constricting.” Still, while they shouldn’t be constrictive, pregnant women will need workout clothes that provide extra support for a growing belly and breasts. To find out the best maternity workout clothing for pregnant women, we spoke to Flashenberg and others who know a thing or two about such matters — including Pilates and yoga instructors, doulas, and some fit, stylish moms — about their favorite leggings, bras, and tops for expecting women to wear while working out. For good measure, we also combed our archives to supplement their recommendations with any truly excellent maternity workout wear we’ve written about before. We’ve divided the clothes by category, leading each section with the pieces that came up the most. Finally, while this list focuses on clothing, if you’re looking for accessories to wear with any of it, don’t miss our lists of the best women’s gym shoes and socks.

Best maternity workout pants and shorts

While they’re not technically maternity-specific, Lululemon’s Align pants are far and away the most recommended bottoms among those we spoke to. They’re available in a super-high and regular rise (which is still plenty high), and both styles — neither of which have a waistband — received praise. Tori Thain Gioia, a co-founder of pre- and postnatal vitamin company Perelel, wears the super-high rise, telling us they “grow with you throughout your entire pregnancy and postpartum.” Pilates instructor Anna Anderson owns multiple pairs and has worn them throughout her three pregnancies and beyond because they are so comfortable. “During pregnancy, I liked the feeling of wearing tight things with support but didn’t want them to be constricting,” she says. “These were the right balance. They feel like you’re wearing nothing, and yet they’re still supportive.” Tenia Skinner, a certified personal trainer and member of Mater Mea, a community for Black moms, agrees, saying that the Align pants “feel like a second skin” and were “so comfortable all 40 weeks.” Flashenberg, along with Carolina Gunnarsson, the founder of fitness boutique Fit Pregnancy Club; Strategist contributing editor Jessica Silvester; and this writer, also wore Align leggings throughout their pregnancies. As Silvester once wrote, their Nulu fabric is as soft as “ranunculus petals” and “the bear from Downy commercials.”

Unlike the Align pants, Bao Bei’s maternity leggings, which we heard about from three folks, are specifically designed for pregnant women. Gunnarsson and Mater Mea members Rachel Nicks Lyons (an actor, trainer for Mirror, and doula) and Erin Pasquet (a birth and postpartum doula, lactation counselor, childbirth educator, and yoga teacher) all told us about how supportive they are; according to Pasquet, this is because the brand was founded by a physiotherapist who is “incredibly passionate about properly supporting pregnant and postpartum bodies in a safe and functional way.” Of the leggings, Gunnarsson says, “They have a lot of support for the belly, and they’re also chic.” Pasquet says she “lived in the leggings” while pregnant, noting that she would also wear the brand’s belly support band for, well, extra support when teaching fitness classes. (Lyons told us about the band as well.) “It’s like a sports bra for your bump,” Pasquet explains. “Many other brands just use compression, which is not ideal for pregnancy.”

Gunnarsson and Lyons are also fans of these leggings from Beyond Yoga. “They’re very soft and not restrictive at all over the bump,” Gunnarsson says. Lyons agrees, saying that the full-belly-coverage tights are “supersoft and comfy.”

If you’re looking for bottoms that can be worn either under or over your belly, consider these yoga pants from Hard Tail that Flashenberg recommends. Earlier on in her pregnancy, she “kept the waistband rolled down,” but “as I got further along and wanted some support for my belly, I rolled it over my bump,” she explains. Their boot-leg flare makes them a bit breezier than other pants on this list.

Flashenberg says that these leggings from maternity brand Ingrid & Isabel are popular with her pregnant students because they too have an adjustable waistband that can fold down. The pants have a second maternity-friendly detail in their crossover panel that’s meant to provide support to the lower back. Zippers at the ankles make them even more versatile. If you like the sound of these pants but want to spend a little less, the brand also sells a more affordable diffusion line at Target called Isabel Maternity; Mater Mea member Janan Graham-Russell, a dance instructor and doctoral candidate at Harvard, tipped us off to it. “Maternity activewear is difficult to find, so I appreciate that line being accessible,” she says.

Gioia says these leggings from Blanqi are “great for higher-impact workouts, as they offer a tremendous amount of support in the belly area and compression through the legs.” She also happens to think they look quite nice: “Due to the clean lines and minimal design, I was able to wear them for non-workout outings too.” The full-coverage leggings have what the brand calls “anchors,” which it claims “lift and redistribute weight,” along with a stretchy belly panel that expands as you grow.

Another affordable source of maternity workout wear is Old Navy, according to Mater Mea member Camaro West, who says she turned to the brand because she “knew I would only wear it for a few months.” West, who wore Old Navy’s pants and shorts, says both bottoms are “true to size and fit well throughout my pregnancy.” As for how they feel, she adds that they’re “so comfy that I still wore them postpartum.”

Anook Athletics sent this writer a pair of its maternity leggings to try when I was postpartum. Like the Align pants, they have a high waist that I can see being comfortably pulled over a round belly. In fact, their soft material actually feels a bit more supportive than that of the Align pants, and it is more than flexible enough for low-impact workouts like yoga and Pilates.

Best maternity sports bras

Like its Align pants, Lululemon’s Enlite high-support bra came up a couple of times among our experts. It comes in two styles: One has a zip-front, and the other is a bit simpler. Anderson swears by the zip-front version. “I used this during pregnancy,” she says, adding she “found that it was a good one to continue wearing after delivery because the front zip closure made it easier for breastfeeding.” Gioia, meanwhile, wore the simpler Enlite style. “Just as my bump grew, my bust did, too, which meant I needed a lot of support,” she explains. “I was delighted to find this Über-supportive option, which I loved for HIIT classes, light runs, and spin.”

“I owned a lot of maternity sports bras,” says Pasquet, “but this one was my go-to, and I got it in several colors.” Designed for low-impact activities like yoga and hiking, it’s also a nursing bra and has clip-down panels that provide easy access for breastfeeding.

While it’s not maternity-specific, Gunnarsson wore this sports bralette from Lively when she was pregnant, noting that she “sized up because you do get larger.” She describes the bra as “quite supportive but not huge,” explaining that, as a fan of working out in a leggings-and-sports-bra look, it was also important to find “a sports bra that is cute-looking,” like this one.

Our own Silvester swears by these affordable pullover bras from Hanes that she’s worn for years and discovered are just as comfortable while pregnant as long as she sizes up. “Nothing has ever held me in and lifted me up quite like them,” she writes. Again, it’s not maternity- or even sports-specific, but Silvester says the bra is supportive enough for yoga and other low-impact exercises.

True & Co. True Body V-Neck Bra
From $17
From $17

Of this (neither maternity nor sports) bra, Strategist contributor Kase Wickman says, “Much like a sports bra, it’s made of body-hugging nylon and elastane that will expand as your chest does,” which is a big reason why she wore and loved it while pregnant. Another reason is that it is very supportive. “Unlike any bra I’ve ever tried as a larger-busted woman, it supports my chest without back bulges, strap-tugging, or quadra-boob (when your bra cups are so tight your boobs ooze over the top),” Wickman says, adding that the bra, which is free of underwire, is “made of the softest fabric and gives the comfiest fit.” While she did not talk about working out in it, the fact that she compares it to a sports bra when it comes to stretch and support makes us confident that the bra would be another good one for low-impact exercises.

Best maternity workout tops

For a basic and affordable tank you can throw over your sports bra, Flashenberg suggests this Gap style she wore for her pregnancy workouts. “They were durable and held up well through two pregnancies of taking yoga, spinning, and teaching yoga,” she says.

Those who prefer a bit more coverage should consider this short-sleeved top from Alo that Gioia calls “incredible — I feel like every mom needs to know about it.” Even though it’s not designed as maternity wear, the tee is “roomy with enough length to nicely sit over your bump,” she promises, explaining that the fabric is “supersoft and breathable.” It’s another piece you can wear from pregnancy into postpartum, she adds. “Not only did I live in this tee throughout my pregnancy, I love it for postpartum too since the V-neck made it easy to nurse in.”

Gunnarsson says that while she personally works out in sports bras and leggings, many of her clients who like to wear something over a sports bra opt for this tank from Beyond Yoga because it’s on the longer side and can accommodate a growing belly. “The fit is a little bit longer, so women can get away with it for a very long time,” she told us.

Cadenshae, a New Zealand–based maternity activewear brand, sent me this tank and a couple of other items to try shortly after I returned to work from maternity leave. While I had already given birth, after wearing it for a bit, I quickly saw how the tank — which is long, roomy, stretchy, and so soft — would be just as comfortable to wear and work out in during pregnancy. Like many other pieces on this list, this is something you can certainly wear from pregnancy into postpartum and beyond; in fact, a year and a half after receiving it, the tank is still the first top I reach for when dressing to work out.

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The Best Maternity Workout Clothes, According to Experts