Best Workout Wear for Mamas-to-Be

By Brandi Koskie for

Pregnant women don't need much permission to put on a pair of stretchy pants. In fact, those elastic bands become a way of life for forty weeks. And while maternity clothing used to be a bleak, dark cloud hanging over the fashion industry, these days, maternity wear is some of the hottest stuff around. 

"The maternity gap in the fashion world is slowing starting to close by retailers expanding their range. It's nice for women to be able to shop the same shops and aesthetics the same way they would when they are being pregnant," said Chelsa Skees, a freelance style and beauty editor in New York. During the past decade we've seen clothiers step up their game and meet the needs of moms-to-be tired of donning unflattering smocks and frocks. Fortunately, the maternity industry wasn't overlooked in that growth.

Spandex, maternity, and fitness clothes all share a common need to be comfortable, supportive, and stylish. Whether at work or a pregnancy prenatal yoga class, a woman needs to feel like herself, feel normal. As petty as it may or may not be, her clothing can accomplish that, and many fitness brands are catering to that need. As more and more moms stay fit and active throughout their pregnancies, a greater demand for maternity fashion is growing. 

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"I think the Gap has done a great job at being a lifestyle brand in terms of having everything from workwear, underwear, to fitness and maternity wear," said Skees. In the brand's Gap Body, a small line of maternity tops and bottoms are available in sleek maternity cuts. Racerback tank that fits over the belly and a variety of yoga pants and "supersoft" leggings are available.


Gap's sister brand Old Navy also has activewear for maternity at a price point that's comparable or less. For instance, both brands offer a racerback tank; Gap's is $29.95 and Old Navy's is $24.95. Old Navy has a lot more variety though, offering colors, patterns, and a few different styles. A wider line of more affordable capris, pants, sweats, and shorts are also available. Pea in a Pod, another national maternity brand, mostly has yoga pants in their line, with the rest being casual or loungewear.

Old Navy 

Small businesses have embraced maternity fashion too, and if you move away from the big box brands you'll find boutique styles online to cover your belly for yoga, a run, or any other workout you're planning. 

For Two Fitness offers maternity workout pants and capris that comfortably support a growing belly. With a price point of $65 for the capri and $68 for the pant, it's nice to know the pants will grow with you, as they have a "signature 3-way belly panel (fold-over mid rise, full belly panel, and under-belly) that gives you a fully customizable fit." What we love most about this brand is their "for two" series of shirts. Running For Two, Yoga for Two, Dancing For Two, and Sweating for Two are just a few examples of their maternity workout shirts made just for expecting moms. Depending on the phrase, tanks, long sleeve and short sleeve tees are available in prices from $49 to $56.

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For Two Fitness

Something you don't hear much about is a sports nursing bra, a must for active moms after baby arrives. You can find a few options in one place at, including a very basic by La Leche for $23. While the mother of all sports bras, Enell ($60), doesn't specifically have a nursing bra, they told us "lots of people wear [the sport bra] while nursing because of the front hooks and accommodation for the larger bust."

While any pant with an elastic band might do, if you're wanting to truly maintain your active lifestyle throughout your pregnancy and even in to that postpartum "fourth trimester," all while looking your best, you'll enjoy shopping activewear lines meant especially for the expecting crowd. 

As for which looks are best, Skees closes with some sound advice.

"Like with street styles, fitness attire changes each season to reflect what's on trend. I would recommend new moms to go with classic styles and colors so their gym clothes will stay relevant and won't look dated, especially in the case of any future bundles of joy!"

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