Maternity Athletic Wear 101
In today's post, I'm sharing a complete guide on maternity athletic wear that will help make you feel FABULOUS. I include tips on what to look for in each piece and advice on when to invest in true maternity wear vs. roomier non-maternity wear.
Good gravy, did I need this post a few months ago. BUT ALAS, that is why I blog! I think it may have been Bill Staley of Primal Palate who mentioned it (now years ago) on my podcast. I'd asked he and his wife Hayley for a few pieces of advice they'd want to give new bloggers. He said (if I'm remembering correctly), “write about what you'd want to read.” I still think this is excellent advice for bloggers (and probably other professions). DON'T just write what you think the world wants you to write, write about the things that have you curious, Googling, searching, researching. It's THOSE unanswered questions that are the true need, the true “unexplored wild frontier” of this content-creating profession.
Sorry for the mini blog advice tangent.
LET'S TALK STRETCHY PANTS!
When I found out that I was pregnant this past Spring, my clothing game plan really only accounted for the fact that I'd eventually need some of those big ole' true maternity covers-the-belly pants when the baby really started to grow. I figured that until that time came, I'd just continue wearing my regular pants.
Real life experience taught me that my expectations were a little off. You see, I did NOT account for the fact that I would put on not-strict-belly weight in my 1st trimester. I didn't think about the fact that pregnant women start to retain water and a little more body fat early on (for excellent and important reasons). I didn't think that my feet might swell sooner than the last couple months and that my (we're going to get personal) chest would get bigger almost immediately. I didn't think that the athletic wear (or “athleisure”) I LIVED IN for function + comfort would suddenly feel incredibly uncomfortable …even *before* I had an obvious baby bump.
I'm not a fan of tight clothes, but at first, I endured the too-tight bras and somewhat uncomfortable-around-my-hips pants …determined NOT to spend more on clothing than necessary. Though I was prepared to buy TRUE maternity wear (for later in pregnancy), I didn't anticipate buying 1-2 size bigger normal clothes to bridge the gap between my pre-pregnancy body and my “WOW there's really a baby in there!” later-in-pregnancy self. Squeezing myself into my old clothes and pretending I was comfortable had me not looking forward to the workday. I started to favor pajama bottoms and avoided leaving the house. Then, eventually, I'd had enough. I scrambled out of desperation to feel like myself again and caved. I purchased some stretchier, more comfortable not-quite-maternity clothes and something truly magical happened …I immediately felt better. As soon as I had bras, tops, jackets, pants, shoes, and socks that fit my now-more-swollen body, I felt like a new women. I wanted to leave the house, to go socialize, to go loaf around in the gym. I was finally comfortable and it made a WORLD of difference on my overall outlook.
The primary reason for today's post is to serve as a loving and friendly PSA for you fabulous, glowing, growing, and possibly uncomfortable pregnant women: PLEASE KNOW that a few strategic athletic wear purchases are worth the investment. Though you may only wear them for a few months (between finding out you're pregnant and then for several months after the baby comes), you DESERVE to feel comfortable.
In today's guide, I'm walking you through ways to *strategically* prepare your wardrobe for your new body. We're not going to go nuts on new purchases, but we are going to be smart about prioritizing our comfort. I'm giving you lots of options with notes on what sizes I chose for each. Don't think of this as a “you must buy them all” kind of recommendation, but rather a list for inspiration. If you're looking to add some roomier comfort to your athletic pregnancy wardrobe, click around and see what resonates with you.
Let's start from the top down.
Sport Bras for Pregnancy
This is probably the one category where you really need to customize to your needs. I'm a relatively petite person up top and was AMAZED by how quickly the girls got bigger in my 1st trimester. Though the growth really stopped there and I remained the same size through my 2nd and now start of my 3rd trimesters, I definitely felt uncomfortable in my old bras. I recommend going to the store and trying a few on for size. I decided to buy bras that were about 2 sizes larger than I wore before, giving myself a little more room to grow. These are a few of my favorites:
Sleeveless/Short-Sleeve Tops for Pregnancy
I've found that 3-4 new oversized tops were all I needed to feel comfortable. Otherwise, my current athletic tops were pretty stretchy already and comfortably fit around my growing body. The following have been really nice to keep on hand for days when I wanted a little baggier look:
- Non-Maternity Oversized Short-Sleeve Top A – I ordered a size large
- Non-Maternity Oversized Short-Sleeve Top B – I ordered a size large
- Maternity Short-Sleeve Top A – I ordered a size small
- Maternity Short-Sleeve Top B – I ordered a size small
- Non-Maternity Sleeveless Top – I have a small and a medium
- Maternity Sleeveless Top A – with some support
- Maternity Sleeveless Top B – no support
Long-Sleeve Tops for Pregnancy
For this category, I think it's important to note when you're going to be pregnant. Our little nugget is due January 13th, so we'll be in some cooler months towards the end and then once she's here, it'll be officially cold. For this reason, I wanted 4 options for long-sleeve tops. Two are non-maternity and two are maternity. If she were due in the middle of the Summer, I'd probably slim this down to just one non-maternity long sleeve to get me through any cool late Spring weather.
- Non-Maternity Long Sleeve A – I have a medium
- Non-Maternity Long Sleeve B – I have a BUNCH of these in a bunch of different sizes. They're soft and inexpensive, a great staple!
- Maternity Long Sleeve A – I have a small
- Maternity Long Sleeve B – I have a medium
Athletic Outwear for Pregnancy
This category takes some strategizing! I found it important to have a non-maternity and a maternity option for both a zip-up jacket and a sweatshirt tunic. The non-maternity was GREAT to wear before my belly got really big and I loved having the maternity option for the later months. I've also adored having some roomier, soft outer layers for easy putting on/off as I needed.
- Non-Maternity Athletic Jacket – I went big with this one (ordered a large), wanting a jacket that would comfortably zip up around my body even before my belly “popped.”
- Maternity Athletic Jacket – I went with my pre-pregnancy size.
- Non-Maternity Sweatshirt Tunic A – I went with one that is 1-size larger than my pre-pregnancy size.
- Non-Maternity Sweatshirt Tunic B – again, one size larger than my pre-pregnancy size.
- Maternity Sweater Tunic – I went with my pre-pregnancy size.
- Soft Outer-Layer A
- Soft Outer-Layer B
Underwear for Pregnancy
Let's go there. I do NOT like tight underwear or anything remotely uncomfortable for a bottom cover. At first, I was tempted to go without undies (as they started to get a bit tight) for a part of my pregnancy, but that's not an option during this time (most ladies will understand). SO, I gathered some of the smoothest, comfiest, no-show undies I could find. I ordered about 1 size larger and have found that they are just right, even now in my 3rd trimester. Note that I do plan on mixing up my undie game for post-delivery. I'll share more about that when I write my “what's in my hospital bag” post!
Athletic Pants for Pregnancy
This is the one category where I (admittedly) went a little crazy. I truly live in athletic wear 5 days out of the week, so I wanted at least that many pants. I also like having the option between leggings and wide-leg. My favorites are below!
- Non-Maternity Capri Leggings – I ordered 2 sizes up from my pre-pregnancy size for extra room.
- Non-Maternity Full-Length Leggings A – I ordered 2 sizes larger to give myself extra room in these.
- Non-Maternity Full-Length Leggings B – these are one-size fits all and have an ankle strap!
- Non-Maternity Wide-Leg Pants – I ordered 1 size larger than my pre-pregnancy size.
- Non-Maternity Joggers – I ordered 1 size larger than my pre-pregnancy size.
- Maternity Capri Leggings – I ordered my pre-pregnancy size.
- Maternity Full-Length Leggings A – I ordered my pre-pregnancy size. I'm actually wearing these right now! I love the texture.
- Maternity Full-Length Leggings B – I ordered my pre-pregnancy size.
- Maternity Full-Length Leggings C – I ordered my pre-pregnancy size.
- Maternity Wide-Leg Pants – I ordered my pre-pregnancy size.
Athletic Shorts for Pregnancy
I only needed to wear athletic shorts for a short period of my pregnancy, mostly because I prefer pants AND the majority of my pregnancy would be in the cooler months. That being said, I did find a few options that I loved. I think that having a stretchier waist band made all the difference.
- Non-Maternity Athletic Shorts – I ordered 1 size larger than my pre-pregnancy size
- Maternity Athletic Shorts
Athletic Socks for Pregnancy
This is probably a category that doesn't occur to most, but I found it important. My feet haven't swollen *a lot,* but I have noticed that some of my previous socks started to leave indentations around my ankles (due to swelling). For that reason, I started wearing more no-show socks that left my ankles free to breathe. It made a BIG difference! Here are my favorites (note you can totally wear these even if you're not swollen and carrying a little nugget):
Athletic Shoes for Pregnancy
I was probably the most resistant to this last category. I knew that my feet would swell a bit, but I wasn't ready to replace all my shoes with a bigger size because …what if my feet KEPT growing?! My advice here: don't stress about what you don't know. If you've found that your shoes are getting a bit pinchy in the ankle or tight in the toes, it's OKAY to grab yourself at least one pair of comfy new shoes. I have found that the following shoes left plenty of room for my ankles to breathe.
- Nike Free RN – great walking shoes that do NOT squeeze the ankle. I ordered a 1/2 size larger.
- Pure Boost X ATR – I am in LOVE with these shoes. They're so comfortable and not tight around my ankles. I also ordered 1/2 size larger.
BONUS: How to Organize Your New Stuff
This part is important and was the final piece to my feel-good puzzle.
- Pull your pre-pregnancy clothing out of the drawers and from the front of the closet.
- Set them aside in bins or baskets to store until you need them again.
- Fill your drawers and front of closet with only clothing that makes you feel fabulous!
If you're more visual, below is a clickable picture roundup of the pieces I have listed above! I hope you find it helpful.