Pregnancy is a magical time—you’re growing a whole new human! It’s also a deeply strange time—you’re growing a whole new human inside your existing body! At no other time in your life will your body change as rapidly for as good a reason. Your changing shape needs clothes that can change, too: Enter maternity leggings.
There are a lot of maternity clothes on the market, and the quality varies considerably. The last thing you need during pregnancy is something that's uncomfortable, see-through, or cuts off circulation to your growing bump. That’s why we had a very pregnant writer (and third-time mom) put eight of the top options to the test.
The clear winner was the Girlfriend Collective Maternity Legging(available at Girlfriend Collective). The soft, opaque leggings were comfortable for all-day wear, and the high-quality, breathable fabric will easily last through nine months of wear (and beyond).
The Maternity Crossover Panel Active Leggings from Isabel Maternity by Ingrid & Isabel (available at Target) were a close second. They were soft, comfortable, and opaque. Plus, they are more budget-friendly than our winner, making it our Best Value pick. These leggings only lost points for some minor fading after our wash test.
Here are the best Maternity Leggings we tested ranked, in order:
Girlfriend Collective Maternity Legging
Ingrid & Isabel Maternity Crossover Panel Active Leggings
Tupelo Honey Comfy Maternity Leggings
Blanqi Everyday Maternity Belly Support Leggings
Hatch Before During and After Leggings
Motherhood Maternity Essential Stretch Secret Fit Belly Maternity Leggings
Zella Mamasana Live In Maternity Ankle Leggings
Old Navy Full Panel Maternity Leggings
Girlfriend Black Seamless Maternity Legging
These silky-soft leggings tick a lot of boxes. The fabric was comfortable and supportive on stretched skin. The weave is stretchy enough to allow for good movement for working out but not so stretchy that it slides down after a full day of wear or a workout. The belly band of these leggings nearly covered my big bump and the waistband comfortably rested on top of my belly without constricting. The fabric was also entirely opaque, even when bending over, something rare when leggings need to accommodate stretch the way maternity leggings do.
The biggest negative? VPL. But since this is common among maternity leggings, we feel more forgiving.
Ingrid & Isabel Crossover Panel Postpartum Active Maternity Leggings
Ingrid & Isabel’s leggings fit nearly all the way over a full bump in the front, while dipping lower in the back (using a crossover panel which purportedly offers back support, although I did not notice any help with my pregnancy back pain). The fabric is very soft and threads the needle between flexibility and stability—allowing for full range of motion without sagging. These leggings remain opaque even when bending over. They also have less VPL than any of the other leggings we reviewed.
After our wash test, I noticed slight fading and shrinking but no pilling. This may have been related to the fact that, unlike our first place leggings, these can go right in your dryer.
Hi! I’m Emily P.G. Erickson. I live in Minnesota with my husband and our two (soon-to-be three!) sons. I’m a freelance writer and hold a master’s degree in psychology. I write essays and journalism about mental health, mindfulness, and motherhood. Before I was a writer, I worked as a mental health researcher. I love applying my research chops to parenting-related challenges. Sometimes these problems look like how to help calm down a tantruming preschooler and sometimes, like now, they look like evaluating the best maternity leggings on the market today.
I conducted tests on the leggings when I was in the middle of my third trimester. I’m short (4’11”), but I have average-sized babies. This means they don’t have a lot of space in my torso, and I carry them out front like I’m smuggling a basketball. While I tested the leggings, I was close to peak pregnancy size. This means the tests represent well how the maternity leggings fit and feel when maximally bumping.
To test the leggings, I wore each pair of maternity leggings for two sessions: one lasting under-two hours and one lasting a full day. While I wore each pair of leggings, I wrangled my young kids, took walks, and did light yoga. To test how well they hold up over time, I washed and dried each pair of maternity leggings three times according to their care instructions.
During the tests, I assessed each pair of maternity leggings for comfort, fit, how well they stayed up, how well they accommodate my baby bump, breathability, suitability for working out, visible panty line (VPL), opacity, quality, whether they changed in fit after a wash, and how well they washed.
What You Should Know About Buying Maternity Leggings
It Must Work with Your Bump
Some maternity leggings are designed to go all the way over your bump, while some are designed to rest on it and still others are meant to sit under your bump. As your pregnancy progresses, this last kind can be tough to wear, since the more pregnant you are, the more potential for a shirt-pant gap.
To avoid the unintentional crop top, we tested leggings designed to go part way or all the way over your belly. With this design, it’s important that the waistband is snug enough to stay up without feeling constricting.
The Fit Should be Tight, but Not Too Tight
Speaking of constricting, these leggings have a tough job: They need to be tight enough to stay up without requiring constant adjustment while also being flexible enough to allow for movement in a rapidly growing body. During pregnancy you have enough impacting your breathing and blood flow, your maternity leggings don’t need to be one of them.
You Don’t Want See-Through Maternity Leggings
If your maternity leggings are see-through, they’re not doing their job as pants. But plenty of maternity leggings struggle in this category. The stretchiness that’s so important to comfortable wear for your changing body sometimes leads to leggings that stretch to the point of transparency, particularly over the thicker parts of your body like your thighs or bottom. That’s why paying attention to opacity is especially important for maternity leggings.
Maternity Leggings Should be Soft
During pregnancy, everything stretches to accommodate your growing baby -- including your skin. For many pregnant people, this means your skin is sensitive to fabrics in a way it hasn’t been before. So even if you’re not normally one to care much about whether your pants are particularly soft, softness is an important consideration for maternity leggings.
The Leggings Should Wash Well
Even though pregnancy is time-limited, chances are, your maternity leggings will get a lot of mileage during those 40-some weeks. This means durability is important.
Other Maternity Leggings We Tested
Tupelo Honey Comfy Maternity Leggings
The fabric of these comfortable leggings is superb on sensitive skin and breathes just fine even during a long day of wear. During the initial wear, the fit was fantastic and the waistband rested comfortably on my growing belly. However, after the wash test, the waistband had shrunk uncomfortably and the leggings required more adjustment throughout the day to stay up. At the same time, the leggings do remain opaque, which is a big win.
Blanqi bills itself as “belly support” leggings, and the fit is indeed unique compared to the other best maternity leggings we tested. The leggings—the fabric of which feels like dense tights—are quite snug in the legs and above the belly and have a looser pocket-like portion for your bump. The leggings stayed above my big bump just fine during a workout and a day of wear, but even after wearing a short while began to sag in the crotch.
The high-quality fabric wasn’t exactly soft, but it was opaque. The care instructions recommend against putting them in the dryer, and the thick fabric took much longer to line dry than the other leggings we tested—so these aren’t exactly a wash-n-wear maternity legging option.
When ordering, be sure to reference their size chart. While the other maternity leggings we reviewed recommend sticking with your pre-pregnancy size, Blanqi’s sizing goes by your current height and weight. For example, although I was a size small in every other maternity legging we tested, I was a large in Blanqi. This means that their extended size offering is a bit more limited than it might appear.
Hatch leggings get high marks for comfort. The fabric is super soft and not too tight—but they go a little far in the other direction. I found that I had to pull up the leggings frequently during the testing period. Needing to futz so frequently was distracting during a yoga session and a long walk. The VPL was among the most pronounced with Hatch leggings of the maternity leggings we tested. Unfortunately, they also began to pill after our wash test.
Motherhood Maternity Essential Stretch Secret Fit Belly Maternity Leggings
When I took these out of the package, I noticed right away how soft the fabric was. They went on easily and fit over my entire third-trimester bump. However, the stretchy fabric was a little too stretchy. The top of the leggings inched down as the day wore on, and the leggings required adjustment during a yoga session. After our wash test, they tightened up a bit, which was actually a good thing in these leggings. Unfortunately, they also faded a bit, which was not so good.
The fabric of the Zella leggings hits a lot of high marks. Although it faded slightly after our wash test, it feels like good quality, is smoothing, and stays opaque when you bend over. The biggest ding for these leggings is their tightness. Although I ordered the correct size, the fabric’s lack of give made the leggings uncomfortably constricting for a full day of wear. Because the leggings fit partway but not all the way over the belly, this discomfort was especially pronounced in the bump area. These leggings might be most appropriate for first or second trimesters or for those pregnant people who carry small.
Because we love a good deal here at Reviewed, we were rooting for these Old Navy leggings, the most affordable of the maternity leggings we reviewed. They did do the job in a lot of ways—they were comfortable enough and breathable enough. However, they compared less favorably in some key ways. For one, the fabric was the least soft of the maternity leggings we reviewed. For another, the waistband, which was tight and sat partway up on my bump, was also among the least comfortable. These leggings lost further points for being the most see-through of the bunch and, unfortunately, after a single wash, the fabric shrank and began to pill, casting doubt on whether they would hold up to nine months of wear.
Emily P.G. Erickson is a freelance writer with a master’s degree in psychology. A former mental health researcher, her journalism and essays about mental health, mindfulness, and motherhood have appeared in The New York Times, WIRED, Romper, and elsewhere. Emily lives in Minnesota with her husband and three children. For more from Emily, visit www.emilypgerickson.com.
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