Fitness & pregnancy: what to wear

I have a lot of running & fitness clothes already, but I knew I was going to keep exercising during pregnancy for as long as possible, so investing in some suitable clothing for comfort & support happened quite quickly after a couple of early setbacks.

I pretty much always race in shorts unless it’s freezing, and like many runners I have my ‘lucky’ kit pieces which I’ve worn for good races and subsequently attached a percentage of the success to them. For Run The Blades at just 12 weeks pregnant, I felt really bloated in my race kit and it was the last time I wore my Under Armor Speedpocket shorts as they were sitting really uncomfortably.

pre-race: chunky af

I was able to wear my favourite racing shorts for the Great North Run, but again they were digging in by the end of the race and especially after having something to eat. I also used my FlipBelt for abdominal support as well as to carry my phone & nutrition, but I could tell that wasn’t ideal or sustainable in the long term. So by the Great Scottish Run (and well into the fifth month of pregnancy) I was down to my final fitting pair of shorts: truly ancient Nikes which are usually too big for me but have a good drawstring & are super comfortable. The weather was way too mild for leggings, even at my slow speed, and overheating is worse than a tight waistband so I would have coped anyway.

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club shirt over a maternity vest & the ancient Nikes

But from this point on, winter was on the approach and almost all of my winter kit was uncomfortable or just not fitting at all.

First things first: maternity clothes are annoying to find, to buy and to wear. H&M has been a lifesaver, mostly because there is some decent stock in their city centre store to actually look at and try on, in the midst of a lot of shapeless polyester. New Look has also been relatively OK for basics like leggings but the in-store range is not great and it means a drive out to a shopping centre or taking your chances online. I have had a brief look in JoJo Maman Bebe and Mothercare – bought one nice dress because it was on sale & a top I am yet to wear, but nothing much appealed to me as it’s very mumsy and not really my style. I need skinny jeans, tailored trousers and well-cut tops.

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Normal standard: uniqlo/New Look

There are some really good blog posts out there for women who don’t want to wear floaty kaftans, or leggings and a striped top for five months straight, but the majority of maternity clothes are not awesome. Recommendations to get regular clothes in bigger sizes doesn’t appeal to me – which makes sense, as you’re not just bigger but an entirely different shape – and that wouldn’t really work for activewear anyway, where ill-fitting leggings are way too common for everyone. For activewear, Gap & ASOS were the main recommendations, so off I went for a browse.

Gap was initially a bit of a struggle as I ordered these leggings because they were cheap, but they didn’t fit very well under the small bump & now I just don’t bother with them. Should probably try them on now for a laugh if nothing else. I did, however get a pair of these Gap over-bump cropped leggings for 99p+postage from eBay and they have been pretty good, fitting fairly well around the waist and hips although slightly too tight on my bowling pin calves.

ASOS came up good for workwear as well as these marvellous leggings, which I hope I can get some extended use out of. With full mesh calves and a really handy phone pocket, I love them and wear them a lot around the house as well as when training. These ones were best for running when I was still doing that, as they are very stretchy and cover the bump well. Getting too hot in full leggings hasn’t mattered either as I slowed down so much.

Tops were generally more versatile, whether roomier race finisher shirts or tighter vests. The benefits of Lycra.

my favourite Under Armor top: November 2018 / November 2019

I did invest in a top from FittaMamma, which has been one of my favourite pieces throughout the pregnancy as it has a strong waistband to support the bump. I’ve even worn it under roomier t-shirts for warmth as the weather got colder, as none of my running jackets zip up any more. Wearing this for running definitely helped me keep going for longer, only cutting the running down when I needed more support than the top could provide. The thick waistband sits comfortably and makes up for the failures of the slightly ill-fitting eBay leggings.

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I also picked up a new sports bra, as my shoulders were hurting in my regular kit within  a few weeks. That’s now less important because I’m no longer running or doing high-impact exercise, but it will hopefully still fit relatively well at a later date as a decent bra is a big financial investment.

Overall I think I’ve done OK, without spending too much money or spending too long trying to squeeze into kit that doesn’t fit any more. The resale value of maternity activewear doesn’t seem great, but I aim to set aside time to eBay everything in a couple of months (or more realistically, it will sit in a corner of the house in a bag for the best part of a year…) I think that the choice and range of maternity activewear is hugely different from even a few years ago, with lots of high street brands doing their own lines, as well as  maternitywear brands and specific maternity fitness brands like FittaMamma. Again, I feel lucky to have the choice; the right clothes have been a huge part of keeping up with training. Growing out of my regular clothes has been a bit depressing and I ended up packing a lot of stuff away under the bed because it made me sad to look in my wardrobe. Getting some nice new activewear definitely helped, and as it might be quite a while before I’m comfortably back in my regular clothes, being comfortable and stylish will remain important.

I am not affiliated with any of the brands in this post.