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What are the Different Types of Maternity Underwear?

By Tara Barnett
Updated May 17, 2024
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Choosing the best maternity underwear is a personal decision, but many women feel more comfortable in certain styles of underwear. Many women choose to wear underwear that covers the belly and supports it, while others believe that wearing smaller underwear is more comfortable. There are also stylistic considerations, and underwear for pregnant women can be found in a wide variety of cuts, colors, and designs. Some women may even have a brand preference due to a good fit between the brand's design and the woman's particular physique. It is also important to note that even if a woman finds the best maternity underwear, a pregnant woman's body changes throughout pregnancy, and the underwear may not fit for the duration.

Underwear worn during pregnancy often does more work than underwear for women who are not pregnant. In many cases, women who wear maternity underwear want underwear that supports the belly and rises much higher than normal underwear. Keeping the back of the underwear from riding up is also problematic. As such, maternity underwear is often larger and more firmly secured than other types of underwear.

On the other hand, many pregnant women find that simply wearing smaller underwear is a better solution. Maternity underwear of this type usually goes under the belly and may even make use of a thong design. Women who prefer this solution may find that maternity underwear specifically designed for pregnant women is unnecessary and may continue to wear their own underwear throughout pregnancy.

Some underwear for pregnant women is made in a design more like pantyhose than underwear. This type of clothing usually covers the entire belly up to the ribcage and may extend to the thighs or lower. While other supportive underwear of similar designs might be designed to make a woman look slimmer, this style of underwear for pregnant women is usually made to maximize comfort while staying active.

In terms of design, there are many different colors and patterns for pregnancy underwear. Some may be more decorative, while others might be more practical. Given that maternity bras are often another item that must be purchased while pregnant, there are many different maternity underwear sets available for women who prefer to wear a bra that matches the underwear. Underwear, while a major issue for comfort, does not usually have much effect on the safety of the fetus during pregnancy at any stage. As such, if a woman finds a type of underwear that is comfortable, functional, and pleasant to wear, she should not worry about whether it is the best maternity underwear available.

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Discussion Comments
By ElizaBennett — On Jun 29, 2012

@dfoster85 - The go-up-a-size trick can actually also work for briefs. I prefer briefs because I like to wear a support belt (you can by special maternity support underwear, but I like the separate belt). If you wear bikini underwear with the prenatal support belt, then the bottom of the belt tends to hit around the top of the panties and it's uncomfortable.

I also like briefs because they are less likely to roll down under the belly, which I find reeeeally annoying. And keep in mind that if you wind up delivering your baby by caesarean section, you may want to wear briefs for at least the first couple of months afterwards. Bikini underwear will end right around your incision and that area will be tender for a long time. Some nice big briefs will be your best friend!

By dfoster85 — On Jun 29, 2012

In my experience, it's not really necessary to have special maternity underwear, but be prepared to go up a size! I kept on wearing "regular" bikini underwear, cotton ones with maybe five percent spandex for stretch, but I did have to buy a package in a larger size. You will still wear that larger size after your baby is born for quite a while!

That said, if you are going to be buying new underwear anyway, you might as well get special maternity ones if you want. Motherhood Maternity has quite a selection in a variety of sizes that I hear are really comfy. My sister says she wore hers for six months after she had her baby!

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