As I approach the tail end of my second pregnancy (in just about as many years), I can confidently say I’m pretty qualified to write about all things maternity fashion-related. From the absolute must-haves – like at least one good pair of maternity jeans IMHO – to the unnecessary (maternity dresses, I’m looking at you), what you need to dress your bump is a niche topic I’ve quickly become an expert in.
And one non-negotiable that needs to form part of your wardrobe over the next 9 months (and beyond) is some good quality maternity underwear.
Just like at any stage of life, your outfit is only as good as what’s beneath it – the right bra and knickers are essential to lay the correct foundations for a stylish ‘fit. And when your body is changing as much as it does during pregnancy, it’s more important than ever to find smalls that are supportive, comfortable and flattering. And whilst it might seem at first glance unlikely that pregnancy underwear can be stylish, I can guarantee my edit of the best maternity underwear will look as good as it feels to wear.
I’ll be honest – initially I found the idea of investing in maternity underwear a bit of a grudge purchase, especially with a seemingly never-ending of baby bits to buy. But take it from me, squishing into your pre-preggo bras and pants will be *almost* as uncomfortable as actual childbirth. Okay maybe not quite, but a women’s body changes in astounding ways in pregnancy and buying a size or two larger in your regular undergarms often just won’t cut it.
Why? When it comes to bras, maternity styles have wider straps for extra support as well as extra hooks at the back and greater in-built stretch to accommodate for growing cup sizes to see you through every trimester. Plus, if you plan to breastfeed, most are designed to easily clip down or fold away for nursing, so they’ll see well you well beyond the 9 months of pregnancy.
And whilst it may be easier to get away with your regular pants, chances are they’ll start to dig in in all the wrong places – and let’s be honest, pregnancy can be uncomfortable enough on its own. Maternity knickers guarantee a comfortable fit, whether you opt for an over-the-bump style (which will also provide you with extra support) or a design that sits in the exact right place under your growing belly.
So, although I can’t promise the nausea, swollen feet or heartburn (or whichever of the thousands of pregnancy symptoms you’re enduring) will pass any time soon, adding a few well-chosen pieces from the below edit to your knicker drawer will ensure that at the very least you’re comfortable in your own pants (and bras.)
Best for: Variety of styles
Seraphine is one of the few maternity brands worth knowing about (just ask the Princess of Wales), and whilst their offering extends to include everything from maternity denim to ‘mama and me’ matching outfits, it’s their super soft, bamboo bras that have had my attention throughout my pregnancies. They’re supportive, without the need for underwire, hypoallergenic and moisture-wicking. Not to mention at only £29 for a pack of two, they’re seriously good value for money.
And whilst they’re my top pick from their offering, Seraphine offers pretty much a one-stop shop for filling up your preggo lingerie drawer. Their lace bralettes look as good as they feel to wear, and you can get cute matching briefs – a rarity in the maternity underwear world.
And speaking of hard to find pieces, they have by far the biggest selection of maternity pants out there – from high-waisted, to low cut, there’s even a fold-down style that allows you to adjust wearing them over or under your bump, depending on your outfit.
Best for: Larger cup sizes
Is there any stage of life that trusty M&S can’t be relied upon to dress us through? That is obviously a rhetorical question so, as you’d expect bump and beyond lingerie is well within their seemingly limitless remit. And it also goes without saying that when it comes to comfort, their maternity underwear can’t be beat – to the extent that I most often wore their seamless bras for sleeping both during and after pregnancy.
And whether you opt for this style or something a bit more structured like their lace trimmed styles, M&S’s wide size range extends up to a G cup size – one of the best sizing ranges out there. The brands lingerie offering also extends to include essentials outside of bras and knickers – like maternity tights and vest tops, which although not essential, you’ll appreciate as your bump grows.
Lastly, although I stand the value of maternity knickers, it seems to be post-partum mums’ worst kept secret that M&S’s modal full briefs will quickly become your best friend, not to mention sizing extends up to a size 28.
Best for: Sexier styles
Hotmilk is a brand I only discovered in my second pregnancy, and I seriously wish I would’ve known about sooner. With an ethos of elevating motherhood with their stylish range of bras and knickers, the brand might have a slightly higher price point, but one look at their line-up will have you quickly forgetting all notions of being consigned to a 9-month sentence of frumpy undergarms.
In addition, the New Zealand based brand has a commitment to producing ethically and minimising their environmental impact, which feels particularly important when you’re buying pieces that you’ll wear for a limited time.
The brand has a wide range of styles, and whilst I can attest their T-shirt bras and multi-fit comfort bras are as comfortable as they look, it’s their elevated lace styles that deserve a special mention. No-one would ever guess that The Warrior Plunge bra is both maternity and breastfeeding friendly, and the True Luxe Amethyst style wouldn’t look out of place in amongst your sexiest pre-preggo lingerie.
Add a pair of their eye-catching knickers to your basket for a small but impactful upgrade to your maternity style.
Calvin Klein Maternity
Best for: Maintaining pre-pregnancy style
Calvin Klein Underwear might be famous for its iconic advertising campaigns but as far as I’m concerned, everyone should actually know about their maternity underwear. Whilst their range might be quite small, their pants and bras have been a staple throughout my pregnancies. One of my gripes when it comes to maternity fashion is being made to feel like you can’t wear clothes you would’ve pre-pregnancy, so I love that their styles are just an iteration of mainline Calvin Klein underwear.
And whilst of course I want my undergarms to look stylish, Calvin Klein maternity knickers and bras are also actually very comfortable. Made from modal cotton with a good amount of elastane to provide stretch as you grow through your trimesters, there’s no digging in the wrong places or squashing your growing bump. I’m a fan of the classic logo bralette but their new Re-imagined Heritage style (which looks nothing like a maternity bra) is next my list.
Best for: Value for money
Just because maternity underwear is a non-negotiable, doesn’t mean it has to break the bank and that’s where H&M thankfully has us preggo ladies covered. With maternity bra 2-packs starting from under £20, their bras are ideal if you’re on a budget, or if your cup size tends to change throughout your pregnancy and breast-feeding journey.
I also love that they have printed styles in this affordable range – something oddly hard to find when it comes to maternity bras.
But my top pick would have to be their lace bralettes, which are super soft and allow for easy breastfeeding access when baby arrives, no fiddly clips in sight.
Similarly, their maternity knicker 5 packs that sit comfortably under your bump, are great value for money; my advice is to stock up on a few sets; during late pregnancy (when putting the laundry on feels like the equivalent of running a marathon) you’ll thank me.