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Let’s talk about maternity leggings, or as I call them, “my very best friends during pregnancy.” And trust me, they’re going to be yours, too.
All my friends call me the legging queen, and for good reason. I subscribe to the notion that leggings are pants, and when you’re pregnant, they’re kind of life. The key is to choose the right leggings. Sure, there are some you shouldn’t wear as pants, but they’re poorly made and should actually be called tights.
Here, we’ll walk you through choosing leggings that can be your go-to pants throughout pregnancy. And the best news? They’ll work through postpartum too!
Check out our favorite postpartum leggings if you want postpartum specific, but you’ll notice some overlap with the best pregnancy leggings for a reason. People who make them well make them WELL. And none of the rest are worth wearing.
Maternity Leggings FAQs
I get a lot of the same questions over and over, so let’s just create a space for them right here at the top.
Why buy specific pregnancy leggings?
Two words, friend: comfort and support.
As your body grows, your organs shift to new locations, and you literally grow a new organ (the placenta) and a human at the same time, let’s not pretend you want to wear just any pants. Even some of the nicest maternity jeans out there dig into your hips, and you do not have time to deal with that.
Whether you’re on your feet all day or spending your life in an office chair, you deserve comfort. And leggings give you just that. And if you follow our advice, you can even find leggings that are perfect for the office. I promise.
Did you see that part where I mention that your organs are moving while you grow a human and a new organ? I meant that. So while comfort is key, you also need belly and hip support to keep that growing belly from destroying your pelvic floor, hips, and low back.
You know how pregnant women complain about peeing themselves? That’s a pelvic floor issue. Back aches? Their bellies need support. Sore hips? Again, support.
And while belly bands and athletic tape provide the strongest support you’ll get, they aren’t comfortable or practical for all day everyday. You know what is? Maternity leggings!
How many pairs of maternity leggings do I need?
This depends on your lifestyle.
If you exercise regularly, I recommend 2 pairs specifically for workouts. Pregnancy leggings for exercise generally have more support than everyday leggings and may not be comfortable to wear around the house or to work.
If you wear leggings as loungewear, 1-2 more pairs will do.
But if you live in them like I do, you’ll need a few more than that. I make it through pregnancy happily with 2 pairs of everyday leggings, 2 pairs of support leggings, and 2 pairs of exercise leggings. But I don’t wear anything else, except the occasional dress. (Wondering what the difference between these leggings is? I’ve got you covered below!)
How long will I wear maternity leggings?
I start wearing everyday maternity leggings as soon as a bump begins to form, and I begin wearing support leggings during the second trimester (usually between weeks 16 and 20).
We highly recommend wearing support leggings as your bump grows to help support your pelvic floor muscles.
You can wear them postpartum until they become too big, which for most of us, won’t be until at least 3 months postpartum.
I even wear some indefinitely, especially my Lululemon Align Leggings, which are not technically maternity leggings, but which work wonderfully for everyday wear during pregnancy.
What To Look For To Find the Best Maternity Leggings
Okay, so when you’re looking for good quality maternity leggings, there are some tried and true specifics you’ll want to consider:
- Style (what waistbands work best; over the belly vs. under the belly; etc.)
Understanding different fabrics will save you from ending up in a pair of see-through leggings, or going for a run in the heat in leggings that won’t wick away sweat. Here’s what you need to know.
Leggings are made from fabrics with 4-way stretch so you can wear them comfortably–most contain either polyester, lycra, or spandex to achieve this stretch. But those aren’t always the primary materials, and the different fabrics serve different purposes.
Some stretch more than others. Some are thinner and become see-through. Some have compression to support you. It’s less about which is best and instead knowing which best suits your purposes.
The most common fabrics are:
- Nylon: highly elastic, durable, stain resistant, easily cleaned, fades easily in sunlight, not breathable, soft, pills as fabric ages, less environmentally friendly than polyester
- Polyester: less elastic than nylon, resists bleaching or fading, head resistant, stain resistant, hot (but exercise leggings with polyester are knitted to be better for moisture wicking & faster drying), less pilling than nylon, more environmentally friendly than nylon
- Spandex: strong and very elastic; usually makes up 15%-40% of a stretchy garment like leggings; blended with other materials such as cotton, polyester, fleece, etc. Also called lycra.
- Cotton: often paired with spandex to create a breathable, soft, stretchy fabric
Most maternity leggings go over-the-belly, meaning there’s a large panel at the top meant to stretch over your bump. Often, not always, there is supportive structure for your abdomen built into these panels.
What most people don’t know is that many over-the-bump leggings are actually made with the ability to fold or roll them down. This actually provides added support for your low back, and it helps keep your belly higher off your pelvic floor.
Read about all leggings you purchase to find out if they’re made for this usage; most will be!
When shopping for pregnancy leggings, get the same size you wear normally. They’re made to assume that a non-pregnant size 8 will still be a medium in maternity clothes.
What to look for in reviews
When reading reviews of leggings, there are a few key takeaways to keep an eye out for.
- See-through–anyone who has ever worn a pair of leggings knows that you do NOT want to bend over and have the material ahem, not be thick enough to cover your lady bits. Check the reviews to see what others are saying about whether or not the material is too thin.
- Hot–one of my #1 priorities for a good pair of leggings is that they DO NOT make me hotter than I already am during pregnancy. If the material isn’t breathable, or if folks are complaining about sweating while wearing them, jump ship quickly, my friend.
- Not stretchy enough–alright, so the actual POINT of leggings is that they are stretchy and comfy, so if reviewers are complaining about them not being stretch enough, that’s a problem.
- Too much compression–so I’ve mentioned that compression is super necessary, but too much of a good thing turns into a bad thing. You don’t want to be uncomfortable with too much compression, so read the reviews and make sure to check the sizing charts before buying.
The Best Maternity Leggings of 2021
Now that you know more than you ever thought possible about leggings, here are the best. Narrowed by category, and of course, best overall.
Best Overall Maternity Leggings
I love all things Kindred Bravely, and it turns out, I’m not alone. These leggings won the National Parenting Product Association’s “Best for Moms” award in 2021, and it’s no surprise why.
These leggings are yet another example of Kindred Bravely taking maternity comfort to the next level. They have built-in belly support when worn over the belly, or they can fold under the belly for extra back support. They’re lightly compressive, so you can easily wear them all day everyday.
And did I mention they come in 2 styles–with or without pockets? You’re welcome.
Best Basic Maternity Leggings
Your everyday leggings, in my humble opinion, are one of the best maternity purchases you’ll make. Let me enlighten you a little further…
Best Support Maternity Leggings
This is not the recommendation you’ll see on every other site, and there’s a reason for that. Yes, I know everyone recommends Blanqi. Yes, I’ve tried Blanqi. Yes, I like Blanqi. I also like Belly Bandit. But believe me when I say that I’ve tried them all, and trust me when I promise, nothing touches BaoBei.
I first found BaoBei at the recommendation of my pelvic floor PT, who insisted that their products are the only ones that provide the support our pelvic floors really need. And that makes sense–BaoBei was founded by a pelvic floor physical therapist specifically because other products on the market didn’t meet the physiological needs of pregnant and postpartum moms.
I took my PT’s advice and tried their leggings, and I can say with 100% certainty that I will never go back. When you put the leggings on, they actually feel like they’ll be less supportive than other major brands because they don’t compress so tightly on your belly.
But by the end of the day, my pelvis, hips, and low back feel infinitely better than with the other brands, not to mention that they’re more comfortable to wear all day because they don’t squeeze so much.
I love these leggings so much that I’ve partnered with BaoBei to give you a special offer: 15% off using discount code undefining
Best Workout Maternity Leggings
We had a tie in this category because the best leggings for indoor exercise are not the same as the best for outdoor. And it’s all in the fabric, my friends.
Of our favorites, one is primarily nylon and the other is mostly polyester, and this makes a big difference in terms of heat resistance, wicking away moisture, and bleaching in the sun. For that reason, our polyester favorites get the best outdoor workout award, while the nylon favorites are our best indoor exercise pregnancy leggings.
Indoor Exercise Pregnancy Leggings
These leggings are a fan favorite among pregnant moms, and while I don’t normally envision a cute, stylish macrame bottom in my workout leggings, I can’t deny that they’re amazing.
These leggings are Okeo-tex approved, meaning they’re guaranteed to have no chemicals that can penetrate the skin. What a great feature when the waist band covers your baby belly!
You can wear these over the belly or folded under the belly for extra support. The absolute BEST feature of these leggings: no tugging! Put them on, and they’ll stay there without slipping down.
Outdoor Exercise Pregnancy Leggings
There are so many things to love about these leggings. The double fabric waist panel folds down to fit below the belly and offer enhanced lower back support, and you’ll enjoy the ever-amazing pockets.
They offer light compression, giving you support you need without restricting you. They’re brushed on the inside to create a super soft feel, and they’re made from mid-weight fabric, so you don’t risk see-through moments during downward facing dog…or when you’re bending over to put groceries in your car.
We recommend washing on low in a delicate garment bag and laying flat to dry–this will help the leggings maintain their supportive structure and prevent pilling.
Best Compression Maternity Leggings
If you’re looking for a little extra support, whether for exercise or daily wear, you’ll want to consider these compression maternity leggings. Compression leggings provide extra support along your back and belly to help keep you weather long days of work, errands, or housework.
Best Capri Maternity Leggings
If you’re like me, you like to wear your leggings at either ¾ length or capri length. These are great for summer, and they look cute underneath just about any tunic top or hoodie!
If you need more convincing, the reviews on these are fantastic. Several mamas suggested that they lived in them during pregnancy, and that they are great for daily wear and working out. Score.
Best Plus-Sized Maternity Leggings
These Motherhood Maternity Leggings (from Target) are a great option if you’re looking for a plus size that also provides a ton of comfort and support. Plus, they’re from Target, so if you order them online and they don’t work out, you can always return them the next time you make a Target run.
Reviewers do note that while these are super comfy (96% cotton and 4% spandex), they aren’t compression leggings, so be sure to keep that in mind.
Best Inexpensive Maternity Leggings
Our favorite inexpensive maternity leggings are definitely anything from Old Navy. From active leggings to lounging leggings, Old Navy has you covered! Seriously, they have so many options that we couldn’t pick just one, so we’ve linked their maternity leggings page. You can even find great inexpensive legging options for work and errands.
Looking for something cute to wear out of the house but don’t want to go with a traditional legging? Old Navy even has some great joggers that won’t break the bank. Cheap comfort and style?! Yes, please!
Best Winter Maternity Leggings
Live somewhere where wearing normal maternity leggings during the winter is an option? We don’t, but we salute you! It turns out that there are lots of options for cold weather maternity leggings that will keep you warm and supported.
For example, The POSHDIVAH Women’s Maternity leggings are fleece lined and will keep you super warm. While slated for exercise, we think they’d look adorable under a long-sleeved tunic or dress (who needs tights? Gross). They also have a POCKET for your cellphone. Yaaaaas.
These have fantastic reviews on Amazon. Mamas rave about how soft and warm they are–and that the company has great customer service. We love to hear it.
Best Leather Maternity Leggings
Okay, so these are a little pricey, but everyone I know who has a pair of Spanx faux leather leggings ABSOLUTELY loves them. In fact, when they first came out, they were really hard to buy because they kept selling out. When I heard that they had a maternity pair, I was stoked!
Spanx is well known for its support, and these faux leather maternity leggings are no exception. For nights (or days) when you need to punch up your look, we recommend pairing these with an adorable maternity blazer and a super cute pair of slip on sneakers like these from Steve Madden. Look how cute you are now!
Best Pregnancy Jeggings
“Jeggings” might be one of those early-aughts words that really gets under your skin, but hear me out: throwing on a pair of them when you want to look like you’ve got your sh*t together is enough to forget that you’re wearing something called jeggings.
At 4.5 stars, we think pregnant mamas have spoken.
Take these from Motherhood Maternity, for example. They come in all kinds of washes, and they have over 2,700 reviews. Oh, and you can specify your length! Tall mamas rejoice.
Best Maternity Leggings with Pockets
Love & Fit Premium Luxe Maternity Leggings 2.0 (deep pockets, non-slip waistband)
Have y’all ever just PINED for some deep pockets in your leggings? I’m talking about pockets that will hold your phone, your two-year-old’s pacifier, and your keys? These leggings from Loge & Fit do the job, y’all.
They are buttery soft, durable (so that pocket bounces back after you’ve loaded it down all day), and they are great for postpartum. What’s not to love??
Best Maternity Leggings for Work
Featuring a polished look with back pockets, you can wear these leggings with a blouse and flats for a cute, stylish work look, while still enjoying the comfort of leggings. In fact, many mamas call them “pants” because of their sleek, polished appearance.
Mamas rave about how well they stay up–being tug-free is one of the features of the best of Ingrid & Isabel’s higher quality leggings! Just be sure you wash them in a delicate garment bag–this will keep them from pilling and keep them looking work-ready!
Best Non-Maternity Leggings
Why We Love Maternity Leggings
We were maternity legging converts wayyyy before it was cool. Just kidding, we probably weren’t the first, but we’ve definitely been living in them since, like, forever. If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that maternity leggings are versatile as all get out.
Need something to go under a dress in the winter? Check. Need lounge wear? Check. Gotta have support at home or while exercising? Check check. There’s literally nothing you can’t do in a great pair of maternity leggings.
What’s your favorite pair of maternity leggings? Have we missed any? Hit us up in the comments!
Katy Huie Harrison, PhD, is an author, mom, recurrent miscarriage survivor, & owner of Undefining Motherhood. She lives in Atlanta with her husband (affectionately known on the internet as “Husband,”) son (Jack), and dog (Charlotte). She believes our society puts too many expectations on women that make womanhood and motherhood restrictive. Her goal is to shift the paradigm about what it means to be a woman and mother, giving all women a greater sense of agency over their own lives. You can find Katy and her work featured in places like CNN’s Headline News, Romper, Scary Mommy, Demeter Press’s Motherhood and Social Exclusion, & more.