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) check out eight of the top options on the market.
The clear winner was the Girlfriend Collective Maternity Legging(available at Girlfriend Collective). The soft, opaque leggings offer comfort 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.
The recommendations in this guide are based on thorough product and market research by our team of expert product reviewers. The picks are based on examining user reviews, product specifications, and, in some limited cases, our experience with the specific products named.
Girlfriend Black Seamless Maternity Legging
Material: 83% recycled nylon, 17% spandex
Sizes: XXS - 6XL
Bonus feature: Moisture wicking
These silky-soft leggings tick a lot of boxes. The fabric was comfortable and supportive on pregnancy and postpartum 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 (visible panty line). But since this is common among maternity leggings, we feel more forgiving.
Ingrid & Isabel Crossover Panel Postpartum Active Maternity Leggings
Material: 82% polyester, 18% spandex
Sizes: XS - XXL
Bonus feature: High-rise design
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 belly panel that 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 a 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.
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 high-waisted 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.
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.
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 and often into the postpartum period. This means durability is important.
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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