Is maternity compression wear necessary - or even safe?

Image: iStock.

I’m heavily pregnant and feel so unwieldy that I only want to wear a bedsheet with a hole cut out of it for my head. So, you can imagine my horror when I came across an ad for maternity activewear. It featured a photo of a hugely pregnant woman doing a complicated yoga pose, while her body was encased in black lycra.

Her ultra-tight black leggings extended over her belly, and it looked like my worst pregnancy nightmare combined: constrictive clothing and exercise.

Intrigued and confused, I just had to know: why would anyone wear maternity compression wear, and is there an actual purpose for it? Or am I okay to keep sitting on the couch wearing my XXXXXXXXXL nighties?

Watch: The pregnancy symptoms you never expected. (Post continues after video.)

Although compression attire isn’t absolutely necessary for pregnant women, it certainly is highly beneficial, according to leading fitness expert and personal trainer Camilla Bazley. These benefits include support to the lower back, the reduction of joint pain, improved posture awareness and core stability.


And crucially, Bazley explains that compression garments can support the uterus during any physical activity.

However, if you do choose to wear maternity compression gear, don’t rely on them too much to provide support for your changing, pregnant body. Instead, try to develop your body’s strength through exercise.

Bazley recommends that ideally, one should “allow the body to adjust [to pregnancy], and then becomes slightly trained to being ‘self supportive’.”

Best of all, Bazley believes that pregnant women should focus on comfort first when choosing maternity fitness attire.

“Exercising whilst pregnant can be intimidating enough – choice of clothing should be decided upon by the individual. There is no right or wrong,” Bazley explains. (Post continues after gallery.)

Sadly for me, slothing on the couch all day is not the best lifestyle choice. “I highly recommend any pregnant woman to keep active during their pregnancy,” says Bazley. She advocates the importance of developing an exercise prescription that incorporates advice from your GP and personal trainer.

So, while I may not be donning compression leggings any time soon, I will definitely extend my exercise routine from its usual couch-to-fridge stroll. And at least I can wear my baggy-as workout gear while I’m at it.

Would you wear maternity compression gear? Or do you also prefer customised bedsheets when pregnant and exercising?