The first time I found myself pregnant, I embraced the 40 weeks as a backward training plan of sorts, prepping for what felt more intimidating than any ultra-endurance event. I had none of the best maternity workout clothes at my disposal, which made some activities harder than others. My pre-pregnancy activity level was often 70-plus mile weeks with ample trail time and elevation change. While maintaining pre-pregnancy activity levels is encouraged, decreased motivation levels due to first-trimester fatigue and nausea landed me at a more moderate activity level of roughly 50 miles per week in the first trimester, 40 miles per week in the second trimester, and downward. Despite the “jostling,” sometimes frowned upon by the general public, swinging of kettlebells, and tossing of sandbags Lucy experienced in utero, she turned out as healthy as a tiny little horse.
My second pregnancy looked a little different. My mileage wasn’t as high, nor was strength training as consistent with three-year-old Lucy in tow. However, my posse and I continued to carve out time every week to ramble up and down the hillsides, summit the local peaks, and hunt down our favorite wildflowers.
While among the peaks and wildflowers, I had the pleasure of testing maternity and postpartum apparel from companies including Nike, Reebok, adidas, ReCore Fitness, goodbody goodmommy, and Sweat and Milk. Offering support, coverage, comfort, convenience, and optimized recovery, the items included in this guide have catered to all things related to the MomBod and kept me running.
Best Maternity Workout Clothes
- Best Maternity Running Shorts: Nike One (M) Women’s 7″ Biker Shorts (Maternity)
- Best Maternity Running Shorts – Runner-Up: Reebok Lux Maternity Bike Shorts
- Best Maternity Running Tights: Nike One (M) Women’s High-Waisted Leggings (Maternity)
- Best Maternity Running Tights – Runner-Up: Reebok Lux 2.0 Maternity Leggings
- Best Maternity Running Tights with Built-In Belly Band: goodbody goodmommy All-Day Performance Legging – Crop Length 26” Inseam
- Best Maternity Running Belly Band: ReCore Fitness Maternity FITsplint
- Best Maternity Running Top: Nike Dri-Fit (M) Women’s Tank (Maternity)
- Best Maternity Running Top – Runner-Up: rabbit EZ Tank Top and rabbit EZ Tee LS
- Best Pregnancy Running Bra: adidas FastImpact Luxe Run High-Support Bra
- Best Pregnancy Running Bra – Runner-Up: Knix Catalyst Sports Bra
- Best Maternity Running Casual Top: Nike (M) Women’s Pullover (Maternity)
- Best Maternity Running Casual Hoody: Vuori Halo Performance Hoodie 2.0
- Best Postpartum Running Bra: Sweat and Milk Venice High Impact Full Coverage Nursing Bra
- Best Postpartum Running Bra with Hands-Free Pumping Capability: Sweat and Milk Venice 3 Ultimate Support Full Coverage Nursing and Pumping Sports Bra
- Best Postpartum Running Tights: Sweat and Milk Venice Ultra High-Waisted Postpartum Tummy Control Legging
- Best Postpartum Running Shorts: Sweat and Milk Blair Ultra High-Rise Postpartum Compression Biker Short 8”
Best Maternity Running Shorts: Nike One (M) Women’s 7″ Biker Shorts (Maternity) ($45)
- Simple, stylish, and lightweight
- It can be worn through the entire pregnancy
- Wide assortment of colors available
- No pockets
The majority of my running this pregnancy occurred during the summer months, and the Nike One (M) Women’s 7” Biker Shorts (Maternity) became one of my most utilized maternity items. Unlike a few other maternity shorts I tried, these fit great from the time I started growing out of my baseline sizes all the way to the bitter end. In the earlier weeks of pregnancy, I rolled down the extra belly fabric, a comfortable adaptation allowed by the relatively lightweight and tighter fit of the Dri-Fit material. In the later stages, the fabric came up for extra comfort and coverage, and I added a supportive belly band on top.
Materials: Polyester/Spandex blendShop the Nike One (M) Women's 7-inch Biker Shorts (Maternity)
Best Maternity Running Shorts – Runner-Up: Reebok Lux Maternity Bike Shorts ($50)
- Some compression
- It can be worn the entire pregnancy
- Thicker material
- No pockets
Like many maternity shorts, the Reebok Lux Maternity Bike Shorts are made out of a high-stretch and fitted fabric, making them suitable for the duration of pregnancy. These were my second-favorite shorts primarily because they felt thicker and warmer than the Nike shorts, and I tend to run hot. That said, the slightly thicker fabric does offer a bit more compression if that’s a fit you prefer.
Materials: Speedwick 80% nylon, 20% elastaneShop the Reebok Lux Maternity Bike Shorts
Best Maternity Running Tights: Nike One (M) Women’s High-Waisted Leggings (Maternity) ($62)
- Lightweight material
- Stylish design
- Suitable for the entire pregnancy
- Many colors available
- No pockets
The Nike One (M) Women’s High-Waisted Leggings (Maternity) were my go-to choice for running and hiking throughout my pregnancy for all the same reasons I loved the other Nike products. In addition to all the practical reasons for preferring these tights, including the lightweight material and excellent level of support, Nike’s offerings are the most flattering of the maternity gear I tested.
Materials: Polyester/Spandex blendShop the Nike One (M) Women’s High-Waisted Leggings (Maternity)
Best Maternity Running Tights – Runner-Up: Reebok Lux 2.0 Maternity Leggings ($65)
- Some compression (great during the early postpartum recovery period)
- It can be worn through the entire pregnancy
- No pockets
If you’re pregnant throughout the winter, the Reebok Lux 2.0 Maternity Leggings are an excellent option for staying warm outside. While thicker material may be a more universal negative when talking about shorts, the ideal fabric thickness for tights is all personal preference. In the case of my summer and fall pregnancy in a warmer climate, I generally preferred the lighter-weight tights, but these were a solid runner-up option. The added compression support brought them back to the top of the stack as my go-to lounge pants in the days after delivery via C-section, and the compression provided quite a bit of lower back relief.
Materials: 80% polyester, 20% elastaneShop the Reebok Lux 2.0 Maternity Leggings
Best Maternity Running Tights with Built-In Belly Band: goodbody goodmommy All-Day Performance Legging – Crop Length 26” Inseam ($89)
- Built-in simple belly-band
- Made in the USA
- Appropriate for late second and third trimesters only
- The high price point for the lifespan of fit
- No pockets
I spent a lot of time simply living or hiking in the goodbody goodmommy All-Day Performance Legging – Crop Length 26” Inseam during the latter part of my second trimester and into my third trimester due to round ligament fatigue. I recall first noticing round ligament fatigue during the second trimester when running in tights without additional belly support. These leggings were the perfect remedy for providing relief for the rest of the day. The belly-band attachment to the legging is simple to wrap, and Velcro, and the fact that the band is attached streamlines pulling them up and down to use the restroom. I spent part of my third trimester in Switzerland, and most of my time hiking there was in these leggings. The belly band has a low enough profile to be socially acceptable milling around town and is supportive enough to keep me comfortable all day, whether hiking or hanging around the house. However, while running, the belly band didn’t offer enough support to be comfortable during high-impact activities.
Materials: 87% polyester, 13% Spandex
Best Maternity Running Belly Band: ReCore Fitness Maternity FITsplint ($50)
- Excellent belly support for higher-impact exercise
- Flexible material molds to your body shape
- It can be worn in three different ways
- Washer and dryer friendly
- Visible through most tops
- Extra fabric may add unwanted warmth (could be considered a “pro” in winter months)
The ReCore Fitness Maternity FITsplint was brought to my attention via Sabrina Little’s Instagram story, and I remain grateful that she was moved to share this gem of a product. The belly band can be worn with both straps beneath the belly, providing extra lift and reducing pressure on the bladder. The straps can also be placed slightly lower for hip and pelvic support. I wore the support in its figure-eight orientation with one strap below and one above the belly. This provided optimal motion control while running or hiking. The difference this made during my second trimester through the end of my pregnancy significantly reduced and eliminated round ligament fatigue. I could comfortably climb and descend thousands of feet with the support provided.
Among my local brigade of running moms, one felt like the FITsplint was too stretchy and unable to provide the same caliber of support that similar products offer. If your belly grows outward, you may need more structured support underneath the belly than this band can provide. Perhaps also worthy of consideration is the surface area of the FITsplint. If you are prone to running hot, you may find the figure-eight style warmer than some other support bands on the market.
Materials: Silicone, nylon, and breathable neoprene
Best Maternity Running Top: Nike Dri-Fit (M) Women’s Tank (Maternity) ($48)
- Simple design and lightweight fabric
- Good for the entire pregnancy
- Several colors option are available
The Nike Dri-Fit (M) Women’s Tank (Maternity) was worn anywhere and everywhere throughout my preggo summer of 2022. While contemplating what constructive criticism I could possibly generate, I couldn’t come up with anything. This lightweight, four-way stretch fabric offers comfort and coverage throughout pregnancy and beyond. I tried a few other maternity tanks that didn’t wick away sweat as well or just had a billowy fit. Nike pulled through again, designing a flattering tank that evolves with your belly and is true to pre-pregnancy size.
Materials: 88% polyester, 12% SpandexShop the Nike Dri-Fit (M) Women’s Tank (Maternity)
Best Maternity Running Top – Runner-Up: rabbit EZ Tank Top ($48) and rabbit EZ Tee LS ($55)
- Pre-pregnancy size may work for most of the pregnancy
- Soft and breathable
- It may get a bit short by the end of the third trimester
While the rabbit EZ Tank Top and the rabbit EZ Tee LS aren’t technically maternity clothing, they’re stretchy enough to work well throughout my pregnancy and were a favorite for running as my belly grew. If you’ve read many of my other reviews, I’m less than subtle regarding my love for rabbit. Much to my delight, my size medium tops had enough stretch to hang with the boobs and belly almost to the end of pregnancy. By the last few weeks, the belly was pushing the limits with regard to the shirt length. However, the tank top and the long-sleeve shirt worked great through the most active months of my pregnancy and minimized the need to purchase larger-sized shirts or maternity-specific tops. You can see more about these shirts at our in-depth rabbit Women’s Cold Weather Apparel Review.
Materials: 94% Polyester, 6% Spandex
Shop the rabbit EZ TankShop the rabbit EZ Tee LS
Best Pregnancy Running Bra: adidas FastImpact Luxe Run High-Support Bra ($85) (Large D-DD)
- Adjustable straps and band
- It keeps you remarkably well-locked and loaded for high-impact sports
- Wicks away sweat
- Runs small
- Relatively high price point
When it comes to providing support during the tender-chest days of pregnancy when motion control is of utmost importance, the adidas Fast Impact Luxe Run High-Support Bra became my go-to. After testing several sports bras for the iRunFar Best Sports Bras for Running guide, I found that this option provided the highest level of support. Adidas’ newly revamped sports bra collection has undoubtedly been influenced by recent development and testing in collaboration with the Research Group in Breast Health at the University of Portsmouth in the UK, headed by Dr. Joanna Wakefield-Scurr. High-support sports bras tend to have quite a bit of material, which can help reduce motion but complicates moisture control. The material comprising high-impact bras can sometimes feel stiff, and I often found them challenging to get in and out of due to crossed straps and back closures. However, the adidas Adiform fabric has a sleek technical touch and minimizes moisture retention. This bra can successfully lock you down while also maintaining the flexibility to move with you. The unique side closures may take a moment to figure out initially, but they allow for both an adjustable band and, ultimately, an easier entrance. I struggle to clasp bands blind while locked in crossed-back straps and appreciated this feature. A size guide is available on the adidas website with instructions on measuring your chest. My cronies and I would recommend sizing up.
Support: High Support | Style: Compression | Materials: 91% recycled polyester, 9% elastane interlockShop the adidas Fast Impact Luxe Run High-Support Bra
Best Pregnancy Running Bra – Runner-Up: Knix Catalyst Sports Bra ($89)
- High-impact support
- Sizes up to 42F are available
- Sleek, silky, stylish
- Relatively high price point
As a result of valuing comfort over style, possibly to a fault, I wear sports bras almost all of the time, so the appearance of the Knix Catalyst Sports Bra was a deviation from the norm for me. Knix was a new-to-me company, and this bra looks more like a “real” bra than most anything I’ve worn recently. This encapsulation-style bra is silky, smooth, sleek, and not overly constructed. This bra also comes with a front zip option, though in the same size as the regular bra, the front-zip option fit a bit big on me. I started testing this bra after my first trimester, making it difficult to determine if it would have provided quite enough lockdown during the extra sensitive early months of pregnancy. Knix claims the design of this bra can reduce breast movement by up to 76%. It rose to the occasion from the second trimester, providing comfort, support, and decent moisture management. Most encapsulation bras I’ve tested feature a material that gets and stays pretty saturated by sweat. The Tri-Flow ventilation technology in this bra allows for increased airflow right in the middle of your chest to help with moisture build-up. While I don’t think this bra was ever fully dry after a run, it didn’t hang onto a significant amount of moisture. To be clear, I have never had a completely dry bra after a run. This bra could be an excellent option for those who prefer ample support that separates and encapsulates versus smashes you down.
Support: High Impact | Style: Encapsulation | Materials: Body: 59% nylon, 41% Spandex, Lining: 86% nylon, 14% SpandexShop the Knix Catalyst Sports Bra
Best Maternity Running Casual Top: Nike (M) Women’s Pullover (Maternity) ($90)
- Versatile uses
- Wide assortment of colors available
- High price point
The Nike (M) Women’s Pullover (Maternity) is a versatile top featuring a blend of polyester and cotton that accommodates both growing bellies and hungry babies. It’s reversible in the sense that you can wear it with the split hem forward or backward. I tested a size medium, consistent with my pre-pregnancy Nike size, for a relaxed fit that allows plenty of room for growth. I love the big, though relatively discrete, side pockets. I’ve used this pullover as a warm layer pre- and post-run, an everyday casual sweater, and a postpartum nursing top. I’ve also used it to layer over a sleepy baby while walking with a front pack.
Materials: 78% recycled polyester, 22% cottonShop the Nike (M) Women’s Pullover (Maternity)
Best Maternity Running Casual Hoody: Vuori Halo Performance Hoodie 2.0 ($98)
- Not maternity specific; non-pregnant size may work
- Lots of pockets
- High price point
The Vuori Halo Performance Hoodie 2.0 has a four-way stretch fabric, making it an incredibly soft hoodie that can accommodate a growing bump so well that I wore my normal size to my delivery date and beyond. The full-length front zipper, side pockets, and mini zippered pocket housed inside the right side pocket result in a practical and flattering top to enjoy pre-pregnancy, throughout pregnancy, and postpartum. I gravitate toward soft tops with front closures in my postpartum breastfeeding state to keep the “kitchen” easily accessible. Needless to say, this hoodie has gotten significant mileage in all the stages and phases of my pregnancy.
Materials: 89% recycled polyester, 11% elastaneShop the Vuori Halo Performance Hoodie 2.0
Best Postpartum Running Bra: Sweat and Milk Venice High Impact Full Coverage Nursing Bra ($59)
- High-impact support
- Attractive design
- Complete coverage for A to G cups
- Comfortable and non-chafing
- Nursing compatible
- Breathable with a four-way stretch antibacterial fabric
- Incredible moisture control
- Competitive price point
- No line currently for non-breastfeeding women
When fulfilling the needs on my ridiculously high-maintenance postpartum running bra wish list, the Sweat and Milk Venice High Impact Full Coverage Nursing Bra checks just about every box. This women-owned company has figured out how to make a supportive, comfortable bra with excellent moisture management and nursing capabilities. It also has a reasonable price point.
The Venice bras are Sweat and Milk’s highest impact bra and do a great job providing compression-style support without too aggressive of a lockdown. You can read our full Sweat and Milk Venice Sports Bras Review for more information on this bra. My average postpartum chest size landed between 32 and 34 DDD (F). Sizing is based on band measurement, warranting a size medium in the Venice bras. Every size accommodates cup sizes ranging from A to H, so they can more than adapt to inflation and deflation throughout the day. The breathable four-way stretch antibacterial fabric provides some of the best moisture management I’ve experienced with a high-impact bra for a larger cup size. Classic maternity-style front clasps on each strap allow easy nursing access, and a liner beneath the clasps protects the skin from chafing.
Materials: Lux tech fabric: 87% polyester, 13% SpandexShop the Sweat and Milk Venice High Impact Full Coverage Nursing Bra
Best Postpartum Running Bra with Hands-Free Pumping Capability: Sweat and Milk Venice 3 Ultimate Support Full Coverage Nursing and Pumping Sports Bra ($63)
- Support for high-impact activities
- Attractive design
- Complete coverage for A to I cups
- Nursing and hands-free pumping compatible
- Breathable with a four-way stretch antibacterial fabric
- Incredible moisture control
- Competitive price point
- Prone to chafing under front clasps
- No specific option for non-breastfeeding women
The Sweat and Milk Venice 3 Ultimate Support Full Coverage Nursing and Pumping Sports Bra takes the stress out of pumping right before or after a run. The need to pump in my house is often a byproduct of disappearing into the woods to run for a few hours and then returning to a bottle-fed baby after I missed a feeding. Thus, having pumping capabilities built into my sports bra is very convenient. This bra’s motion control, sizing, and moisture management are all outstanding and comparable to the Venice nursing bra outlined above. This style, however, includes two sets of maternity clasps on each strap, granting both hands-free pumping and nursing access. My main criticism regarding the design of the nursing- and pumping-compatible style is that there is no fabric between the clasps on the straps and your skin, making this style more prone to chafing around the clavicle. You can read more about our experience with this bra in our Sweat and Milk Venice Sports Bras Review.
Materials: Lux tech fabric: 87% polyester, 13% SpandexShop the Sweat and Milk Venice 3 Ultimate Support Full Coverage Nursing and Pumping Sports Bra
Best Postpartum Running Tights: Sweat and Milk Venice Ultra High Waisted Postpartum Tummy Control Legging ($85)
- Incredible support for weeks immediately following delivery
- Appropriate postpartum and beyond
- Two deep side pockets
- Flattering design
- Competitive price point for full-length leggings
- 45-day hassle-free returns and exchanges
This company has been described as “Lulu for moms,” an accurate depiction of the fit and feel of the Sweat and Milk Venice Ultra High Waisted Postpartum Tummy Control Legging. I started wearing these a week or two postpartum as “everyday leggings.” The compression, seam placement, and material have provided impressive comfort and relief during C-section recovery. These high-waisted, buttery soft, all-way stretch tights are designed to hug your postpartum belly gently and have pockets! Long side pockets are perfect for stashing phones, fuel, trash, and more. The website markets this legging as designed for low- to medium-impact activities. However, they have been my number one choice for all my runs since hitting the six-week postpartum running green light. I have to think that the high-rise waist and compression helped immensely as my core got accustomed to scampering up and down the hillsides again. However, these tights are not designed to be worn during pregnancy. Sizing tips on the website provide a great guideline, and I found that these tights are true to non-maternity sizing.
Materials: 87% polyester, 13% SpandexShop the Sweat and Milk Venice Ultra High Waisted Postpartum Tummy Control Legging
Best Postpartum Running Shorts: Sweat and Milk Blair Ultra High-Rise Postpartum Compression Biker Short 8” ($55)
- Great for postpartum and beyond
- Convenient pockets
- Attractive design
- Competitive price point
- Some movement in the waistband and less compression than in other options
Like other leggings in this guide, the Sweat and Milk Blair Ultra High-Rise Postpartum Compression Biker Short 8″ sculpt, smooth, and hug the body. I find the fabric to be smoother in a “slippy” kind of a way when compared to other tights with the same proportions of polyester and Spandex. This phenomenon seems to result in slightly more movement in the waistband and less compression than other options in this guide. The smoother fabric doesn’t require much adjusting while running, and the eight-inch inseam prevents the shorts from riding up. The side pockets accommodate a key, credit card, snack, and trash. I prefer not to stash my phone there while running, but the pockets are big enough to house a phone and a convenient place to stash one while milling around after a run. These shorts are very well designed and conducive to the postpartum return to running, and I would be heavily relying on them if my return to running landed in the summer months.
Materials: 87% polyester, 13% SpandexShop the Sweat and Milk Blair Ultra High-Rise Postpartum Compression Biker Short 8-inch
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose Maternity and Postpartum Workout Clothes
While scientific consensus regarding the benefits of exercise during pregnancy has been available for decades (2, 3, 4), running companies have only recently developed lines of maternity-specific running apparel. Historically, women have come up with innovative ways to dress in the absence of such clothing. However, since most of us will have to come up with some different gear to keep running during pregnancy, here is my advice: embrace this new phase of clothing availability by opting for a maternity-specific “preggo-kit,” and comfortably treat your tiny new running buddy to all the benefits of an active pregnancy with the best maternity workout clothes. A pair of Nike One (M) Women’s High-Waisted Leggings (Maternity) for extra support with a belly band, like the ReCore Fitness Maternity FITsplint, paired with a quality bra like the Knix Catalyst Sports Bra can go a long way towards making running while preggo more comfortable.
Why You Might Want Pregnancy-Specific Apparel
It has not been my experience during a pregnancy that my belly grows independently of the rest of my body. In fact, my butt and chest often show up to the party long before the baby bump does. Needless to say, something other than my baseline clothing has always been required if pre-pregnancy levels of activity are going to be achieved. Last pregnancy, without the best maternity workout clothes, I strapped down my chest, wore a belly band, and otherwise wore larger sizes of regular running clothes. Dressing for each stage of the body evolution with standard clothing, which was sometimes my husband’s clothing, can require prolonged periods of what feels like playing dress up in the closet, often resulting in a less-than-flattering outcome. Some well-fitted pre- and postpartum running gear that keeps the boobs, belly, and butt under wraps may be the ticket to keep you trucking. Some pieces of clothing, like the rabbit EZ Tank Top and the rabbit EZ Tee LS, can work as maternity and regular clothing.
I love that maternity clothing is designed to accommodate pre-pregnancy sizing. While this is likely common knowledge, I was very impressed with this phenomenon the first time I shopped in the maternity section. I remain impressed that companies designing maternity gear can anticipate all the directions we change throughout this baby-building process. Notoriously a medium across the board, I tested mediums in all the maternity shirts, shorts, and tights. Despite seemingly “non-medium” body changes, maternity size medium fit like a glove across the board. The Nike (M) Women’s Pullover (Maternity) had enough space to accommodate a growing belly throughout all pregnancy phases.
Running bras were the exception to this “medium across the board” rule and proved the trickiest to predict appropriate sizing. What made many bras I tested “maternity” seemed to have more to do with whether or not they accommodated breastfeeding than anticipated changes in chest size. I have spent hours attempting different self-measurement approaches, and the following has proven relatively reliable. Collecting measurements and reviewing sizing charts seems to be the only way to semi-confidently purchase a bra that you haven’t tried on.
- Put on a comfortable bra that doesn’t smash or otherwise significantly alter your circumference.
- Grab a cloth measuring tape and wrap it under your armpits, high on your back, and across the top of your chest above your breasts. Hold relatively taut. If this number is even, that will be your band size. If the number is odd, add an inch. (For example, if you measure 32 inches, your band size is 32. If you measure 33 inches, your band size is 34).
- To determine cup size, keep the tape parallel to the ground and wrap it loosely around the biggest part of your chest. This is your cup measurement. Subtract your band measurement from your cup measurement. Each inch of difference accounts for a cup size. If the difference is less than one inch, your cup size is AA. Otherwise, 1-inch = A, 2-inch = B, 3-inch = C, 4-inch = D, 5-inch = DD, etc).
While the chest size and sensitivity rollercoaster is a relatively temporary ride in the grand scheme of life, it’s certainly one of the least comfortable peripartum conditions to run through if ill-prepared without the best maternity workout clothes. The need for extra support due to chest tenderness seems standard across the board, especially in the first trimester of pregnancy. We found that the adidas FastImpact Luxe Run High-Support Bra provided enough support and motion control throughout the most sensitive times of pregnancy.
How your chest size responds to the peripartum period can be a wild card. I’ve run with pregnant moms who had a similarly shocking upward trajectory as myself, relatively early into pregnancy. Others in my circles experienced no change in their cup size during pregnancy. It seems safe to assume that for most, band size will increase throughout your pregnancy as your belly grows, even if cup size doesn’t significantly change. Breastfeeding moms often experience further increases in cup size postpartum, alongside decreases in band size with a return to pre-pregnancy weight. When I met with a lactation consultant, she emphasized the importance of finding well-fitted support without overdoing it on compression to prevent mastitis. The postpartum bras outlined in this guide provide an excellent balance of support without too aggressive a lockdown. See iRunFar’s Best Sports Bras for Running guide for a helpful summary on breast movement and why high-quality, supportive sports bras are imperative for supporting delicate tissues, keeping us comfortable, and improving our running performance.
I recall a fellow preggo asking me well into my first pregnancy if I had experienced round ligament pain. I had experienced many things, but it wasn’t until my second pregnancy that I had myself sorted enough to reliably identify what was happening. The round ligaments support and suspend each side of the ever-changing uterus. Round ligament fatigue and pain usually become limiting factors when running in shorts and tights without additional belly support during the second trimester of pregnancy. According to my plentiful posse of running friends who are also physical therapists, this phenomenon results from the significant growth phases the baby and uterus undergo during that time. When I began experiencing this “tired belly” phenomenon, a belly band, like the ReCore Fitness Maternity FITsplint, was added to my running and lifting routines and successfully prevented these ligaments from continuing to cramp my style. For others, this ligament fatigue may present itself as a more acute pain and wax and wane less predictably. However, belly support starting in the second trimester should help provide some round ligament relief and support the lower back as it continues to contend with a growing belly.
Breathability and Venting
While pregnant, most women will find that they tend to run warmer than usual. As a result, the best maternity workout clothes have to breathe well and wick away sweat more than ever. Running hot paired with a summer pregnancy made me gravitate toward cooler and more breathable fabric blends. The rabbit EZ Tank Top and the rabbit EZ Tee LS are both made of lightweight, breathable fabric and are great options.
After tapping into every maternity running line of apparel I could, the most significant variation in styles of the best maternity workout clothes seemed to exist in tops. Tank tops and t-shirts ranged from billowy to form-fitting. After cresting the period of pregnancy where I went from looking like I had been eating too many bon-bons to looking legitimately pregnant around week 20, I personally preferred the more form-fitting shirts and tank tops, like the Nike Dri-Fit (M) Women’s Tank (Maternity). If your preference is billowy, there are a few products out there that may be perfectly functional, but I didn’t find them flattering on my body. The biggest variability I found among tights and shorts was the amount of belly fabric and support provided. My favorite shorts and tights tended to be the ones I could start wearing relatively early in the second trimester and all the way to the finish line. I tried a few shorts and tights with so much belly fabric that I was well into my third trimester before they comfortably fit. That said, I have historically experienced a very average amount of pregnancy weight gain that is relatively evenly distributed. If you tend to gain very little or grow nice robust babies that resemble something akin to a prize watermelon in utero, your style preferences and fit experiences will no doubt be a bit different than mine.
I believe my profile picture on my best friend’s phone for a time was me, 36 weeks deep into my first pregnancy, in a sized-up pair of regular Nike shorts that I found on the side of a lake that summer. I’m sporting tall compression socks, and my belly is peeking out of the bottom of my tank top. I was a real diamond in the rough. I would not have been able to run in these sized-up athletic shorts without some affliction to my thighs. Had I applied a belly band, chafing would have likely resulted from the belly band fabric not being attached to my shorts and not having a tank long enough to provide a barrier between the belly and the band. Needless to say, a reasonable degree of functionality is to be valued simply in having maternity-specific clothes, like the goodbody goodmommy All-Day Performance Legging – Crop Length 26” Inseam, that fit well and provide adequate coverage. My favorite pieces breathed and wicked sweat well, as one would expect from standard running apparel. Gear tested with the specific task of providing belly support, chest support, postpartum compression, and nursing and pumping capability was held to a whole other functionality standard. For the various reasons discussed throughout this guide, these items made all the difference in keeping me running.
Why Trust Us
Among a sea of running companies, there remains a minority that offer maternity-specific apparel. I researched far in advance and acquired as many relevant pieces as possible. However, in full disclosure, most of the clothing reviewed for this guide was done with only a single product in each category. I felt far more prepared for the task of researching and testing than I would have during my first pregnancy. And, while I wasn’t able to talk my fellow female iRunFar reviewers into hopping back on the baby wagon for the sake of helping me out here, I do have an impressive community of runners here in southern Oregon that are very much synced up, and countless discussions have gone down in the hills of the Rogue Valley dissecting these topics. You can look forward to “meeting” these marvelous women and their tiny sidekicks in an upcoming buyer’s guide on related topics.
Please note that product models are routinely discontinued in the running world, while new ones frequently come to market. At the same time, we here at iRunFar often keep using our top picks in our daily running … they’re our top picks, after all! Sometimes that continued use results in uncovering product failures. With all this — product discontinuations, product introductions, and product failures — in mind, we routinely update our buyer’s guides based on past and ongoing testing and research by our authors and editorial team. While these updates can appear to be us pushing the newest product, it’s anything but that. When we update any buyer’s guide, most products will likely remain the same. That matches our goal: to get you in the best gear you’ll be using for a long time.
Frequently Asked Questions about Maternity and Postpartum Running Apparel
Do I need maternity-specific clothing to run?
For some, the hesitation in purchasing maternity-specific clothing is due to their relatively abbreviated lifespan. However, I found that my favorite pieces worked throughout my pregnancy, weren’t too expensive, to begin with, and were frequently on sale. What I considered essential during pregnancy totaled approximately $225 and included the Nike Dri-Fit (M) Women’s Tank (Maternity), Nike One (M) Women’s 7” Biker Shorts (Maternity), adidas FastImpact Luxe Run High-Support Bra, and ReCore Fitness Maternity FITsplint. It wasn’t until the end of my pregnancy that it got cold enough to routinely wear tights and long sleeves. If pregnancy had been primarily a wintertime experience, my lineup of essentials would have totaled approximately $250 and included the Nike One (M) Women’s High-Waisted Leggings (Maternity), rabbit EZ Tee LS, adidas FastImpact Luxe Run High-Support Bra, and ReCore Fitness Maternity FITsplint. The Sweat and Milk Venice Ultra High Waisted Postpartum Tummy Control Legging provided support in all the right places upon my return to running postpartum. I cannot say enough good things about both the leggings and Sweat and Milk Venice High Impact Full Coverage Nursing Bra, and I highly recommend requesting this push-present duo totaling approximately $144.
Is it safe to run while pregnant?
During my pregnancies, I was intermittently asked when I would dial it back or whether all the bouncing was okay for the baby. My obstetrician used a marathon runner as an example to reassure me: “If you ran marathons before becoming pregnant, you could run marathons while pregnant … just don’t wait until you’re pregnant to start running them.”
It has been estimated that current exercise recommendations are achieved by a mere 15 percent of expectant mothers. Most societies concur that 30 minutes of exercise per day, most days of the week, culminating in 150 minutes per week, can lower the incidence of excessive gestational weight gain and postpartum weight retention, gestational diabetes mellitus, preeclampsia, preterm or Cesarean birth, and low infant birth weight (1). Lack of motivation and fear of potential fetal injury are often cited as reasons for not exercising regularly during pregnancy. Dr. Høeg provided an in-depth review of the literature with regard to long-distance running for iRunFar in 2017. For those of us who don’t have any of the listed contraindications, her review generates ample reassurance regarding not only the safety of our sport during pregnancy but also extensive benefits for both mom and baby as a result of maintaining pre-pregnancy levels of activity.
So get the green light from your obstetrician, pack lots of snacks, and head for the hills. A belly band, like the ReCore Fitness Maternity FITsplint, can provide extra support to keep you comfortable as your belly gets bigger.
How long do I have to wait after having a baby to start running again?
Generally speaking, an obstetrician will suggest you wait six weeks before a gradual return to running for non-complicated births. The physical therapy world would suggest consulting with a women’s health or pelvic floor specialist to help guide your return to postpartum running, strength training, and more. Your interpretation of gradual and your trajectory back will be largely individualistic. Wearing clothing designed for postpartum exercise, like the Sweat and Milk Blair Ultra High-Rise Postpartum Compression Biker Short 8″ and the Sweat and Milk Venice Ultra High Waisted Postpartum Tummy Control Legging, can help your body move comfortably.
Will my return to running negatively impact my milk supply?
It can! My kids’ pediatrician has always appreciated that my return to running has not affected their growth curve. This can be a challenging reputation to uphold as their peak breastfeeding months between four and six months of age tend to coincide with jumps in my weekly mileage. I have a trick I like to fall back on during these months. For feedings that land immediately after a run, try offering a bottle to be assured of getting as much milk as they need. The destination of most stroller runs for my first baby was my favorite coffee shop, where lattes, tasty treats, and cups half-filled with hot water for bottle heating would abound. Having stylish clothing that fits postpartum, like the Vuori Halo Performance Hoodie 2.0, can make stroller runs even more fun.
As a registered dietitian with a passion for sports nutrition, I do love to prioritize fueling for maintaining my milk supply and myself. The combination of breastfeeding and running creates unprecedented fueling needs. Fueling correctly is important for your health and injury prevention and your ability to be a food source for your baby. Try wearing a hydration vest more often than usual to simplify the task of always having water and snacks available. Embrace energy- and nutrient-dense forms of your favorite foods at home. In our house, homemade granola, no-bake bars, and Run Fast Eat Slow’s Superfood Soup, with extra coconut milk and gnocchi, have been on repeat for months. Routinely post-run, I swing through my favorite smoothie shop for a big berry smoothie with ample nut butter, achieving hydration and glycogen restoration immediately after a run in one fell swoop.
When more than 20 miles into a training run with one of my fellow MomBods during her breastfeeding days, I recall her yelling back in disbelief and utter irritation, “I cannot wait until my caloric needs go down!” Having worked professionally with hundreds of women whose goals notoriously involved weight loss, I couldn’t help but stop. I had seldom heard such a thing out of a woman’s mouth! But welcome to the world of ultrarunning and being a mom. The challenge of meeting the fueling needs of our bodies while under such high caloric demands for our baby requires significant attention at baseline and likely the top end of the recommended range of carbohydrates per hour, which is about 90 grams, while in motion. Pull out the big guns to keep the sometimes insatiable tanks of you and your mini-me topped off with all the good stuff.
I need extra support for my belly to run while pregnant. What do you recommend?
Every woman’s body is different and changes differently throughout a pregnancy, but it’s a fairly universal experience to need extra support for a belly as pregnancy progresses. For the first two trimesters of pregnancy, you might be able to get away with only a pair of maternity shorts or tights, like the Nike One (M) Women’s 7” Biker Shorts (Maternity) or the Nike One (M) Women’s High-Waisted Leggings (Maternity). You might want extra support from a belly band like the ReCore Fitness Maternity FITsplint as your belly grows. These products can help prevent round ligament fatigue and make running much more comfortable as your belly grows.
I need extra support for my breasts to run while pregnant. What do you recommend?
The first trimester is often the most challenging pregnancy period for keeping breasts comfortable. The extra sensitivity throughout this period makes having extra motion control even more important than at other times. The adidas FastImpact Luxe Run High-Support Bra provided excellent support for this time and throughout the rest of the pregnancy. Many women experience an increase in breast size throughout pregnancy, and you’ll want to measure your band and cup size before buying a new bra for each phase.
What kind of apparel is best for postpartum running?
When you’re ready to return to running postpartum, the right clothing can make a big difference in comfort. We found that the Sweat and Milk Blair Ultra High-Rise Postpartum Compression Biker Short 8″ and the Sweat and Milk Venice Ultra High Waisted Postpartum Tummy Control Legging provided the right level of support for getting back into running. The extra support can help your body feel secure during high-impact activities, and Postpartum apparel can provide additional support for both your belly and your back.
I need a running bra that works for breastfeeding too. What do you recommend?
Breastfeeding while wearing a sports bra no longer has to be difficult. The Sweat and Milk Venice High Impact Full Coverage Nursing Bra was a clear favorite bra for running and breastfeeding. Its front clasps made access easy, and the extra piece of fabric underneath them prevented chafing while out on the trails or roads. The Sweat and Milk Venice 3 Ultimate Support Full Coverage Nursing and Pumping Sports Bra is another great option for mothers who want to breastfeed and pump. Both bras provide easy access and a high level of support so you can transition easily from running to breastfeeding afterward.
Call for Comments
- What are your experiences with running through a pregnancy?
- Do you have favorite items of maternity clothing that allowed you to keep running as your pregnancy progressed?
- Professional Exercise Recommendations for Healthy Women Who are Pregnant: A Systematic Review. Womens Health Rep (New Rochelle). 2021; 2(1): 400-412.
- Bullard JA. Exercise and Pregnancy. Can Fam Physician. 1981 Jun; 27: 977-982.
- Erdelyi GJ. Gynecology survey of female athletes. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 1962; 2: 174-179.
- Clapp JF, Cram CE. Exercising Through Your Pregnancy. (2nd ed.) Omaha, NE: Addicus Books.