If you’re expecting a baby and exercising regularly, well done you! As long as you feel well and have no symptoms or conditions that cause your doctors to advise against exercising, there is ample evidence that active mums to be benefit from more energetic pregnancies, easier labours and accelerated post-birth recoveries. Recent studies even suggest that babies born following active pregnancies have increased athletic ability and higher IQs, so if you’re hoping to produce a prodigy then you can start by marching your bump to the squat rack.
Remember to move mindfully as your growing bump will present a few obstacles to select exercises. If you’re not sure what is and isn’t safe, you may find clarity in this blog post summarising simple ante-natal exercise modifications.
Once you’ve equipped yourself with the knowledge you need to train your body and protect your baby, you need just one further thing to feel your best during workouts: a selection of pregnancy fitness fashion that accommodates and complements your growing bump. If you’re like me, you’ll find that a mere week’s growth can rule out yet another pair of go-to pre-pregnancy leggings or turn that beloved vest into a rather uncomely crop top.
No one wants to break a sweat over wardrobe disasters before you so much as make it to the gym, so I’m using my own style trials and tribulations to help save you time, money and frustration when shopping and dressing for your workouts. While ante-natal activewear is undoubtedly on the rise, my own experience with ‘pregnancy leggings’ from most maternity brands has proved an incessant wrestle to keep sag-prone fabric in place and a battle to source enough long-length vests to protect my dignity as poor quality fabric falls short during the ‘squat test’.
As a Sweaty Betty Ambassador I’ve had the privilege of putting all their product ranges through my own pregnancy paces. I live in activewear from early morning to late evening, so while function and comfort comes first, I also refuse to compromise on style. My below edit of Sweaty Betty’s bump-friendly athleisure has served me faithfully, and I have good faith that my top picks will support you through every last rep as well as that all-important task of growing a tiny human.
First Trimester Pregnancy Fitness Fashion
One of the first telling signs of a new pregnancy is also a game-changer when it comes to choosing appropriate workout wear: your boobs get plumper and substantially more sensitive! For me, wriggling into pull-on sports bras was not an option. SB’s Upbeat Workout Bras were my saving grace – the hook and eye and front zip ensured I felt secure enough to continue my cardio workouts, and even a little proud of my suddenly ample curves.
Most of my go-to leggings remained accessible to me throughout my first trimester, but I preferred styles with a soft adjustable waistband. The Power Leggings (in black or available in plenty of prints) were snug enough to stay up and soft enough that I could move and breathe comfortably.
I only started to show nearer the end of month three, so Athletes Vests were still my first choice layering top, but I did start to feel a little bloated and craved more forgiving cover-ups. Cosy throw-overs like the A-line Rye Knit Jumper helped me keep my little secret until I was ready to share the news – and those bold, bright colours scream confidence, so know one guessed a thing!
Second Trimester Pregnancy Fitness Fashion
I’m so grateful there are so many prints and variations of the Contour Leggings, because they have been my absolute favourite all throughout pregnancy. The fabric is so soft and stretchy while the wide waistband sits comfortably on bump. I sized up to allow a little room for growth, but I can definitely see myself wearing these right into the birthing suite. My latest addition is the 7 A Day Print – it’s giving my autumn wardrobe such a playful pop of colour!
As fitted vests became more of a squeeze, I moved to looser tops and tees. A word of warning. Your favourite leggings of days gone by may become marginally more see-through as your bump grows, so having a little extra length in the back of your tops gives you a peace of mind at the squat rack. Both the Pacesetter and Flaunt It Vests work a treat. I’m also wearing the Pacesetter below with my Ilado maternity necklace, which contains a tiny little bell that makes a soft soothing noise baby is supposed to recognise when she joins us in January. I love this concept from Paris, and was so touched when my husband surprised me with such a thoughtful piece of jewellery!
Third Trimester Pregnancy Fitness Fashion
I can’t quite believe it myself, but I’m already several weeks into my third trimester and I’m really enjoying dressing my bump. I’m coming to terms with my changing body and having fun accentuating my steadily growing workout companion. As a huge advocate of strength training and remaining active during pregnancy, it’s important to me that people see me excelling in my workouts. I feel a responsibility to showcase that lifting weights is an accessible and enjoyable form of exercise while expecting. If I can set an example and inspire one woman to lead a healthier pregnancy, then I’ve done something positive with my day.
For showing off my bump while moving confidently and comfortably, nothing beats a seamless option like the new oxblood Prism Leggings. Now that it’s getting colder out, I’m pairing it with the matching Reflect Seamless Top to warm up and transition in and out of the gym. As I write (after choosing my day’s outfit in the morning’s sub-zero temperatures), I’m wearing the new Drift Ski Base Layers, which are also seamless and have an equally soft and stretchy waistband that has remained comfy from morning clients through to my lunchtime dog walk (as pictured below) and now to my desk-based content work.
For more relaxed workouts, long weekend walks or the regular stretching I’m finding increasingly necessary now that third trimester stiffness is setting in, I swear by the Hatha Harems. They cocoon my tummy so it’s obvious I’m pregnant and not just full of post-brunch pancakes, but the waistband sits above bump so there is no friction around my growing middle. I will be training, practising yoga, brunching, working, napping and nesting with a plate full of Christmas leftovers in these until my bootcamp boss co-conspirator joins me in January… I’ll probably even wear them as I carry her home from the hospital!
If you don’t already follow me on Instagram, make sure to check out my profile @FitBritCollective, where I post daily pregnancy fitness tips and workout videos to keep you feeling safe, strong and confident through your unique pre and post natal wellness journey. I always welcome feedback and requests, so please don’t hesitate to comment or DM me and I’ll do my best to help! Until next time, thank you for reading and I wish you a fit, fashionable pregnancy. Brit xx
* Thank you to Sophie Keogh for taking the beautiful photographs used in this post.