Exercise & Workout Apparel
Dealing with the weight gain in pregnancy is difficult for most women. Regular exercise kept me going through the process, and I was very active during my pregnancy. I believed that being healthy and working kept my cravings to a minimum. Bicycling, jogging and walking are ideal pregnancy activities, as well as prenatal exercise classes developed especially for pregnant women. After all, exercise increases lung capacity, improves circulation, eases back pain from added weight, keeps weight under control, helps prepare your body for labor and delivery, and enables you to recuperate more rapidly after childbirth.
Of course, you should consult your ob/gyn about safe workout practices. Funny enough, we ran across a doctor who was actually against our level of activity. We love our physician’s practice, but one doctor flat out told us that I couldn’t exercise and train for a triathlon that I had signed up to do. Needless to say, we didn’t go back to that one for advice. But sure enough, guess who the doctor on call was the night I went into labor? Don’t worry…my son wasn’t born until her shift ended. And even though I had to keep my heart rate below a certain level, I completed the Chicago International Triathlon at four months pregnant.
However, what I found difficult was finding work-out clothing that was made for a pregnant woman. Wearing my husband’s t-shirts didn’t work, because covering a basketball with a shirt that is two sizes too large only made me look larger and feel like a tent. You can find maternity yoga pants at almost any maternity store, but as a runner I wasn’t interested in that style.
As the baby gets bigger, so does the mom. And it can become very uncomfortable if you do not have the proper workout attire that supports and breathes in the right places. Even buying larger sizes of the regular athletic gear just doesn’t work, because the larger sizes are not shaped to the pregnant form.
Fortunately, several maternity companies have finally addressed the shortcomings of maternity exercise apparel, accepting the idea that comfort and support go hand in hand. Although the clothing needs to be cool and non-restrictive, it should also firmly support extra-full bellies and breasts, and over-strained backs and legs bearing the increased weight.
I would recommend a few basics for nine months of working out that would cover all the bases.
- 1 support maternity support belt (highly recommend Medela)
- 2 pair maternity fitness shorts
- 1 pair maternity yoga pants (long or capri); for yoga or any activity
- 2 really good and supportive bras
- 1 supportive swimsuit for any kind of water workout
- 2 maternity tanks or tees for layering
If you want to find something to wear after the baby is born, look for a style that was specifically designed with that in mind, such as Fit Maternity’s maternity/postnatal unitard. Remember that your fitness wear should fit comfortably and that waistbands should rest either over or under the belly to minimize unnecessary pressure across the middle.
The following places offer comfortable maternity workout wear for a variety of price ranges:
- $ Target (stores & online). Liz Lange designs a wide range of maternity clothing for Target, including active wear (tees, sweats, pants and shorts) for exercise and lounging. For a greater selection, visit Target’s website.
- $$ Gap Maternity (stores & online). Perfect for the pregnant woman, you’ll find tanks, tees, hoodies, pants, and sports bras.
- $$ FitMaternity.com (online). This website offers a variety of maternity exercise clothing and accessories. Find styles for yoga, swimming, tennis and general exercise, as well as support belts, briefs, and sports bras for pregnancy and nursing.
- $$$ Bornfit (online). Bornfit has workout clothes specifically for the growing belly. Unfortunately, I did not find this online store until after I gave birth. I have not tried them yet, but they look extremely comfortable and they have received rave reviews.
- $$$ Fit 2 Be Mom (online). Like Bornfit, I never wore their clothing, but they have a number of styles for many different activities.
- $$$ Impact Fitness Wear (online). The fit is great, and they use high quality, comfortable fabrics. Comfort is a MUST while you are pregnant. With their Maternity Workout Clothes, you can also be stylish and look great. Maternity Pants, Capris, and Shorts for yoga, walking/hiking, gym-fitness classes, etc.
- $$$ PrenatalCradle.com. These support belts and braces can help alleviate back and joint pain during pregnancy.
- $$$ Motherhood Maternity (stores & online). You’ll find active collections and swimwear in a variety of styles, fabrics and colors.
- $$$$ Mimi Maternity (stores & online). Check out their active wear (tees, sweats, pants and leggings) and yoga collection (clothing, props and accessories).
- $$$$ Mountain Mama (online). Mountain Mama’s award-winning Fall 2010 Collection combines the best technical fabrics with innovative design to create maternity clothes that are guaranteed to look great before, during and after pregnancy.
- $$$$$ A Pea in the Pod (stores & online). Get designer maternity active wear and swimwear clothing to suit your style.