Health & Fit Maternity Running Gear Is Virtually Nonexistent. This Needs to Change.

01:45  29 july  2020
01:45  29 july  2020 Source:   runnersworld.com

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When I found out I was pregnant with my first kiddo, my son, my first thought—after hoooo boy!—was finding the best maternity running gear. I learned pretty quickly that the market is virtually nonexistent. Two years later, when I was pregnant with my daughter, I realized not much had changed in the way of gear made for pregnant runners.

a woman posing for a picture: Our picks for running and exercising comfortably beyond the first trimester. © Staff Our picks for running and exercising comfortably beyond the first trimester.

Let me be clear: There are certainly activewear maternity lines, but runners know that not all activewear is specifically designed with runners in mind: Tights don’t usually have compression nor are they made for colder weather, and tops are generally designed for low-impact activities. During both pregnancies I crammed myself into non-maternity gear because it was still better than the activewear options. Below is some of that apparel; we also scoured the market for some maternity gear that actually works for runners. This gear was vetted and approved by pregnant wear-testers.

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A Noticeable Discrepancy in Choices

I’m not alone in my struggle to find fitness apparel while pregnant. Maternity activewear lacks “real running clothes,” Brooklyn-based runner Masha Portiansky told Runner’s World. “Most things were made for yoga or lounging. It was hard to get something with compression.”

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For example, during my first pregnancy, I tried running in a pair of active maternity leggings from Target. I spent the majority of the run pulling up the below-the-bump waistband and fixing the bunching behind my knees (Target no longer makes those leggings). And when I was pregnant with my daughter, my Gap long-sleeve maternity shirt would have been great for yoga but not for a December run.

Another runner I spoke with agreed: “Everything was ruched, pink, and too big.”

Racing the Runner’s World Half Festival 5K at 27 weeks pregnant with my daughter. © Courtesy of Heather Mayer Irvine Racing the Runner’s World Half Festival 5K at 27 weeks pregnant with my daughter.

A Call for Change

Runners are particular when it comes to their shoes and gear when they’re not running for two. That makes finding clothing that fits a growing bump, accommodates swollen feet, and doesn’t press too hard on an already overtaxed bladder, especially trying.

Plus, maternity clothing—active or otherwise—is expensive. And because a woman is only wearing it for a short period of time, it can be hard to justify the cost. Maybe that’s why major running brands don’t make a maternity line, but that’s a missed opportunity.

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During my first pregnancy, when I was my biggest during the summer months, I could get by with larger shorts and tops. But when I was pregnant with my daughter, it was during the winter months, when I needed tights and warmer shirts. I decided I’d invest in high-quality running gear for expectant women. But there just wasn’t any.

My go-to shirt was my husband’s Tracksmith Downeaster, size medium. And I wore a very old pair of Under Armour thermal tights for every run toward the end—they have a great wide waistband that sat under my belly.

I commend companies for making maternity activewear, like A Pea in the Pod and Gap, even if it’s expensive and not running-specific, because it does offer moms-to-be a chance to stay active when they’re expecting. Bigger picture, I hope it encourages running companies to follow suit.

Despite the obstacles, our pregnant testers hit the road with a variety of maternity activewear and non-maternity apparel to help moms-to-be find gear that will support miles with baby on board.

a person riding on the back of a park: RW tester, Candice, road-tested Goodbody Goodmommy’s Maternity Leggings during her third trimester. © Courtesy of Candice Silvestre RW tester, Candice, road-tested Goodbody Goodmommy’s Maternity Leggings during her third trimester.

How to Choose Gear That Works for Both of You

As with all running gear, comfort is key. That’s especially important when your body is already so uncomfortable with its other marathon—growing a human. After having gone through the gear-choosing-while-pregnant process twice, here are a few Pro Tips to keep in mind.

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Invest when it makes sense: If you know you want to run throughout your pregnancy, finding comfortable and supportive clothing could be a worthwhile investment. As you get bigger, it can be harder and harder to get out the door. Clothing that fits well and feels good will make the workout more enjoyable. You may use your clothing again and if not, you can consign or donate.

Find support: It’s no surprise that bumps come in all sizes. Some women don’t feel they need extra support from under-the-belly tights or belly bands, but others are more comfortable with it. There are a host of belly bands out there—I loved Upsie Belly from Belly Bandit.

Size up: For the most part, I didn’t purchase any maternity activewear because none of it was made for running. I did, however, find success in sizing up in regular gear and wearing my husband’s shirts. If you can’t find a maternity option that works for your body, activity level, or budget, this is a great time to dig into your bin of old race shirts that were always way too big.

a group of people standing in a parking lot: Roughly 10 weeks pregnant running a July 4th 5K with my family. © Courtesy of Heather Mayer Irvine Roughly 10 weeks pregnant running a July 4th 5K with my family.

How We Tested and Chose

We can’t, in good conscience, recommend maternity gear (or any gear for that matter!) without trying it ourselves or through our trusted testers. For these products, we enlisted the help of runners who are expecting, in all three trimesters, who are logging anywhere from six to 40 miles a week. Some of these product recommendations come from my own personal experience—and I’m a tough critic.

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A few items also came recommended by our 2019 cover model who ran trails until her due date.

So, without further ado, these are the best items we’ve found for running and exercising throughout pregnancy and, if you choose to, while breastfeeding.

Senita Athletics Bumpin’ Maternity Tank

a person posing for the camera: Bumpin’ Maternity Tank © Senita Athletics Bumpin’ Maternity Tank


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We might buy this tank just because of its bumpin’ good name. But we’re here to test. Our mama-to-be tester provided feedback during weeks 13 to 19 of her pregnancy when her bump was on the smaller side. But she anticipates the tank will accommodate her growing belly, thanks to the side ruching.

The tank is simple with high-quality material that doesn’t chafe and provides comfort from low-impact activities like yoga to higher-impact trail running. Our tester tips her hat to the durability of the tank material, which has withstood sticker bushes on the trail and multiple washes.

The downside? They go like hot cakes.

Lily Trotters Crew Socks

a close up of a sock: Crew Socks © Lily Trotters Crew Socks

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For pregnant women who experience swollen feet (and let’s be honest, eventually they all will!), compression socks can make or break a workout. Our tester loves the fit of these compression socks, which, unlike many styles, don’t go over the calf. (Although that might mean if you’re swelling, the socks won’t do as good a job at reducing it.) Our tester writes, “the compression was adequate for a crew-length sock.”

At first feel, these socks felt bulky, but our tester changed her mind once she got moving. They kept her feet dry and protected even after wet and muddy runs.

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Not only is our expecting tester an avid trail runner, she’s a healthcare worker who also liked these socks on the job. But she does prefer knee-high compression socks at work.

Lily Trotters Signature Compression Socks

a person posing for the camera: Signature Compression Socks © Lily Trotters Signature Compression Socks

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This brand also offers knee-high compression socks, which tend to add a little more support and keep swelling down. Knee-high compression socks are also notorious for being difficult to put on. But not these, our tester says.

Like Lily Trotters’s crew socks, she wore the knee-highs on the trail and at work, and appreciated the moisture-wicking, breathable nylon/spandex material that kept her feet airy and not too sweaty. The Signature Compression pair also catered to her personal preference for knee-high length socks as she clocked in as a healthcare worker.

“The compression helped me not feel lightheaded when I stand in one place for an extended period of time and definitely helps with circulation,” our tester writes.

Cadenshae Breastfeeding Bra Freedom Bra

a woman wearing a dress: Breastfeeding Bra Freedom Bra © Cadenshae Breastfeeding Bra Freedom Bra

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This bra wears many hats. Our tester wears it for running (road and trail), yoga, and everyday activities.

“I absolutely love how this bra fits,” she says. “It feels like a normal sports bra.”

The cups provide support while allowing some room for growing breasts, which happens throughout pregnancy and during breastfeeding. The strap, our tester says, is soft and comfortable—not a given in most bras, especially for maternity and breastfeeding.

This bra has withstood physical activity, many wears and washes, making it a worthwhile investment.

It’s worth noting that our tester is usually a size small in sports bras—34A to 32B.

Cadenshae Breastfeeding Top Rise Up Tank

a woman wearing a pink shirt: Breastfeeding Top Rise Up Tank © Cadenshae Breastfeeding Top Rise Up Tank

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Size down because these tanks tend to be a baggy fit. Even with a smaller size, the tank allows room for a growing bump without feeling restrictive.

Despite its “Rise Up” name, the tank is long enough that it stays in place for high-impact activities like running, even on technical trails.

Our tester loves the overall fit and comfort of this tank, and says even though the material is thick it’s still breathable. Unlike activewear maternity tanks, which tend to leave runner moms-to-be wanting, the Cadenshae Rise Up Tank performs like a high-performance running tank.

Belly Bandit Upsie Belly

A friend of mine lent me her Upsie Belly during my most recent pregnancy. (I tried and didn’t like the popular Gabrialla line because it kept riding up.) As my friend described, this pregnancy support belt is “like a demi cup for your bump.” I credit this no-frills belt with helping me run until 13 days before I had my daughter. The belt is lightweight, something most maternity belts are not, and extremely easy to secure: Position the straps under your bump and Velcro together.

As much as I loved the Upsie Belly, nothing is perfect. Like most maternity items, toward the end, it was hard to wear comfortably because of the size of my bump. In the case of the Upsie Belly, I had to pull the straps so low to support the bump that they pressed too much on my bladder. And I didn’t need help peeing at that point.

Janji Deviation Tight

For most of my second trimester, I comfortably fit into these non-maternity running tights from Janji. The wide waistband sat under my bump without restricting it, and the compression made me feel supported without squeezing. I’m short (5’2), and I like the crop length on these tights because they’re not too long, something I experience with most tights. My only complaint was that I couldn’t wear these for the duration of my pregnancy.

Goodbody Goodmommy Maternity Leggings

Our third-trimester tester can’t say enough good things about these leggings, which come with a built-in support belt—not unlike the Upsie Belly. But these leggings have extra material underneath the belt, doing away with the chafing issue that standalone belts can cause.

The support also helped lift our tester’s 30-week bump high enough to relieve added pressure on her bladder, which made exercise more comfortable. Plus, these withstood many washes, which means you can wear these over and over again, making it a worthy investment.

The one downside is the tight ankle bands, which made it hard to get on especially having to bend over a bump to do it. Plus, ankle swelling in the later parts of pregnancy can make anything tight even more uncomfortable.

Anita Miss Fantastic Tights

For a more run-of-the-mill pair of maternity tights, our tester, who was logging 40 miles a week in her third trimester, loved these, noting great belly support without feeling restrictive.

“There’s nothing worse than already having a big, full pregnant belly and wearing a piece of restrictive clothing on top of that,” she said.

These tights, while not designed specifically for running, have 3D nubs for your own personal leg massage.

For expecting runners, having tights with pockets to carry a phone for emergencies can be especially important, but the Miss Fantastic tights do not.

New Balance Impact Short 5 Inch

Brigid Pickett, who ran trails until she was due, loved these New Balance shorts, which aren’t maternity-specific but have a wide waistband that sat comfortably under-bump. The shorts come in several lengths—3 and 5 inches— depending on your preference. And the best part is you can wear that after baby, making it worth your money.

Blanqi SportSupport Maternity Support Crossback Tank

This high-quality, stylish maternity tank is great for lower-impact workout days, like yoga or light walking. But for higher impact activities, ahem, running, the shirt rode up making it more of a belly shirt. And although the shirt is advertised as providing additional bump support, our tester found the belly-centric patterns were more form than function. One perk, for women on the go, is that the straps can be pulled down for quick sports-bra-to-regular-bra changes when you’re strapped for time—and who isn’t?

Brooks Dare Scoopback Run Bra

This non-racerback bra makes it a good option for expecting moms who need extra support, thanks to its adjustable closure system. The clasps give excellent support, according to our tester, who also said the clasps “are so secure that once they’re fastened, you forget it’s adjustable.”

The pads are sewn in, setting the Scoopback apart from other padded sports bras, whose pads fold and float around the pocket. This design has minimal seams and stitching, reducing the risk of midrun chafing.

La Leche League International Danica Nursing Sports Bra

I’ve tried both nursing sports bras from La Leche League International, the Serena and the Danica, and after my first kiddo, I loved the Serena. But it hasn’t aged well, i.e., increased chafing in my armpit area. The Danica has been a fan favorite this time around—it’s supportive and comfortable, no chafing. I just can’t stand the removable pads that fold and float around after the bra has been washed.

It seems obvious that you wouldn’t actively breastfeed while running (although you never know!), but having a nursing sports bra makes feeding before and after a run much more seamless. And for moms who are running long or racing, having easy access for pumping can make or break the workout.

Shefit The Ultimate Sports Bra

a close up of a logo: The Ultimate Sports Bra © shefit.com The Ultimate Sports Bra


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For perhaps the best fit—without having to hire a personal tailor—SheFit bras take into account your exact measurements, body size, breast shape, and activity level before recommending a bra. Take the 60-second Fit Quiz to find out the best bra for you, but you’ll annoyingly have to enter your email address to get the results. The price point is surprisingly even-keeled—roughly $65—for such a personalized bra.

CSX Compression Socks

For those swollen legs, ankles, and feet, compression socks during and after a run (or Mom Walk) are a lifesaver. My brother got me a pair of these socks for my birthday during my first pregnancy. Not only did they get me through pregnant running, I wore them while flying when I was pregnant with my daughter. Be sure to measure your legs properly before choosing a size; compression socks’ safety and effectiveness rely on accurate measurements. The one downside of these (and perhaps most compression socks, given their nature) is how tight the tops are underneath the knee. It’s a workout in and of itself to put them on and take them off.

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