The Best Maternity Underwear to Buy in 2021

Neve Spicer
Written by Neve Spicer Updated on July 23rd, 2021

We only include products we know and trust. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Learn more about our review process.

In the rush to pick out cute, flowy maternity tops and pants that actually close, it can be easy to overlook the hidden gem that is maternity underwear. Undergarments from your pre-pregnancy wardrobe may be too tight to be comfortable or irritate your sensitive skin and belly button, so choosing maternity undies that avoid these issues helps a lot. Ready to learn more?

Why choose maternity underwear?

Although some of the underwear in your pre-pregnancy wardrobe may still pull on easily, when the time comes, you may wish to consider purpose-made maternity underwear. Here’s why.

  • It will preserve the life of the non-maternity garments: Eventually, even if you can get your old undies on, your growing hips and belly will begin to stretch them out of shape. Most pairs won’t ever return to their original fit, which means once your baby body is gone, they won’t be wearable.
  • Avoid belly button irritation: This is a situation in which your mileage may vary, but many pregnant women find that once their belly button begins to protrude in late pregnancy, underwear that covers it can be itchy and irritating. There are many maternity underwear styles with a deep dip in the front to avoid just such irritation.
  • Choose comfortable fabrics: The skin on your belly is stretching as your baby grows, which means that it’s extra prone to sensitivity and irritation. That means choosing fabrics that are breathable and soft is important to your comfort, because that itchy rash dance is even less fun when you’re in the third trimester.

What styles of maternity underwear are available?

You may not be surprised to hear that like non-maternity underwear, you can find maternity underwear in just about any style that you can fathom. However, as logic follows, some of those styles are a lot more comfortable than others. Some of the most common styles in maternity underwear, and the ones that we recommend for your comfort, are:

  • Briefs
  • Bikinis
  • Boy-shorts

Looking for something a little different? Maternity lingerie and shapewear are also an option. From thongs to traditional pull-on body shapers, you can find maternity versions of most of your favorite pieces.

How can I avoid belly button issues while wearing maternity underwear?

Some of the most common underwear issues in pregnancy relate to the belly button. While some moms find that a waistband that falls right at their belly button is especially uncomfortable, others can’t even stand the feeling of briefs that go over it. If you don’t find a cloth layer bothersome, go ahead and choose a high or low waistline based on your preference. However, if that extra layer is irritating to you, opt for some low-cut briefs or boy-shorts to bypass the issue entirely.

What’s the best fabric for my maternity underwear?

Choosing comfy fabrics that breathe and aren’t irritating to the skin is wise during pregnancy. Check out our pro/con list for some of the most common maternity underwear fabrics to help you make your decision.

Spandex

Pros

  • Very stretchy, so it grows right along with you

Cons

  • Spandex manufacturing is fairly unfriendly to the environment
  • Can lose its shape after just a few wears
  • It’s not breathable, so it can lead to irritation and infection as well as allergies to the chemically-produced fabric

Cotton

Pros

  • Hypoallergenic, so it won’t cause irritation
  • Very breathable, so infections are avoided
  • It’s insulating, so it helps keep you warm in cooler months

Cons

  • Not as durable as synthetic alternatives
  • It can shrink if it’s not laundered correctly
  • Highly absorbent, but doesn’t dry quickly

Bamboo

Pros

  • It’s hypoallergenic, so it’s ideal if your skin is sensitive
  • Bamboo is naturally antimicrobial, so it helps avoid irritation, infection, and odor
  • Naturally wicks moisture away from the skin, drying quickly   

Cons

  • Bamboo undies are usually a fair few dollars more expensive than their counterparts
  • Because of its natural moisture wicking, it takes longer in the dryer(though those who line-dry their laundry may be able to bypass this issue)

Polyester

Pros

  • May help to eliminate infection and irritation
  • Soft and stretchy

Cons

  • Polyester can get sweaty
  • Manufacturing isn’t environmentally friendly, and eco-conscious alternatives can be pricey

Nylon

Pros

  • Feels light and airy during wear
  • Often has detailing and a more lingerie-like appearance

Cons

  • Can stick to your body, riding up or shifting during wear and causing discomfort
  • Doesn’t breathe especially well
  • Not as stretchy as other alternatives

Modal

Pros

  • Soft, breathable fabric that stays dry
  • Extra stretchy, so it fits easily

Cons

  • Can get stretched out and lose shape quickly
  • May trigger allergies in sensitive people
  • Doesn’t retain heat, so not good for cooler climates and seasons

This discussion of some popular fabric picks may also be helpful:

How can I plan for my expanding belly when buying maternity underwear?

Since maternity underwear is designed to grow with you, you may want to start out buying a few pairs in your regular size. As your body grows, keep an eye on the fit. Healthy pregnancy weight gain may find you going up 1-2 sizes, but there’s nothing wrong with waiting to see what garments become necessary instead of guessing what you might need later.

Our top picks for the best maternity underwear

Best Overall

Our opinion

Material: 95% Cotton, 5% Spandex
Sizes Available: Small – XXL
Color(s): Black, grey, white, nude, polka dot
Style: Bikini
Waistline: Low

Though briefs and bikinis with under-bump designs strive to offer mom comfort, some have waistbands that still ride a bit too high and put undesired pressure on the abdomen. Not so with this sweet set from Intimate Portal (check price on Amazon), which has an exceptionally low-cut front crossover design that ensures that neither mom nor baby is impacted by a poorly-placed elastic band.

These undies are also absolute superstars during postpartum recovery for c-section moms. The low front cut avoids impact to the surgical site, preventing irritation and allowing healing.

What we love
  • The low front-cut design prevents pressure on the belly and is exceptional for c-section postpartum recovery
Watch for
  • Moms who are carrying high may find the cut of these underwear to be too low

Upgrade Choice

Our opinion

Material: Cotton, Lycra, Nylon, Spandex
Sizes Available: A, B, C, D
Color(s): Bare
Style: Shapewear
Waistline: High

Ladies who use shapewear are no doubt familiar with Spanx; they offer premium products that perform as indicated, but the price tag can be as high as the quality. If you’re in the market for an upgrade, the Spanx Power Mama Shaper (check price on Amazon) smooths the thighs, hips, and rear while offering comfortable support under your baby belly and at your lower back. It’s great for preventing inner thigh chafing, and it’s generously sized, so moms of all body types should easily be able to find a comfortable fit.

What we love
  • It offers smoothing to the thighs, hips, and rear as well as gentle under-belly and back support
  • It’s generously sized, so almost every mom should be able to find a good fit
Watch for
  • It’s a bit on the pricier side

Best for Budget

Our opinion

Material: Modal Cotton
Sizes Available: Small, XXL
Color(s): Purple, pink, green, blue, nude
Style: Bikini
Waistline: Low

From the moment the second line appears on that fateful stick, the costs of pregnancy start coming at you quick. With so much of your budget focused on baby, finding inexpensive but high-quality maternity items like these pastel Under-bump Cotton Bikinis (check price on Amazon) is something to cheer about. They’re made from ultra soft modal cotton, and their extra-low front crosscut design avoids pressure and irritation and is ideal for c-section recovery. The smooth, thin cut of these bikinis also helps to avoid panty lines, so they’re ideal for wear under tighter garments.

What we love
  • They’re budget friendly — more money to spend on the nursery
  • The extra-low crisscross design is ideal for c-section recovery
Watch for
  • Some wearers may find that these underwear run small, so consider buying a size up

Best Soft Cotton

Our opinion

Material: 95% Cotton, 5% Spandex
Sizes Available: 10, 12, XXL
Color(s): Pink and yellow
Style: Bikini
Waistline: Low

If bikini underwear was your favorite style pre-pregnancy, that’s not likely to change, but the waistband of traditional cuts can fall right on that oh-so-irritating belly button line. The front of the Giftpocket Under Bump (check price on Amazonmaternity bikinis has a cross cut that falls just under the belly button, sparing you discomfort. They’re made from a soft, high-quality cotton blend that’s comfortable against your skin, and the slightly cheeky cut gives them a bit of a fun and sassy lingerie feel.

What we love
  • Cotton is hypoallergenic and breathable, so irritations and infections aren’t likely
  • The cut is accommodating to maternity comfort, but keeps a cute lingerie-like feel
Watch for
  • This maternity underwear may run a bit small

Best Maternity Thong

Our opinion

Material: 96% Cotton, 4% Spandex
Sizes Available: One size (fits 0-12)
Color(s): Black
Style: Thong bikini
Waistline: Low

Sometimes, less is more. Moms who stuck to barely-there thongs pre-pregnancy may be happy to hear they don’t have to leave the sexy style behind, as maternity thongs like these supima cotton picks from Hanky Panky (check price on Amazonare cut to your comfort while keeping a sleek appearance. A nylon and spandex-blend lace waistband falls right under the bump to prevent irritation, and the soft cotton construction of the crotch allows for breathability and comfort during wear. They’re a durable pick that can stand up to many repeat washes and wears, so they just might last through more than one pregnancy if needed.

What we love
  • They fit true to size, and the wide waistband doesn’t cut in
  • Despite being a spandex blend, they return to shape easily after a wash
Watch for
  • The lace waistband can look a little lumpy under some tight-fitting clothes

Best Support

Our opinion

Material: 90% Nylon, 10% Spandex
Sizes Available: S – L
Color(s): Black
Style: Briefs
Waistline: High

Pregnancy comes with many joys and happy surprises, but it can also include some less pleasant aches and pains. A bit of extra support, like that provided by these high-waisted Bevelation Maternity Briefs (check price on Amazon), can make all the difference during a long day on your feet. These nylon and spandex blend briefs offer a gentle, firming lift and shaping that creates a smooth line under clothing. That gentle hold remains consistent throughout wear — unlike some other shaping briefs, these picks don’t get loose as the day goes on.

What we love
  • A bit of gentle support is offered, which can help to alleviate back pain
  • The high-waisted smoothing design creates a clean line under clothing, avoiding bulges
Watch for
  • Some moms may find the leg openings of these briefs to be tight

Best For Dresses

Our opinion

Material: 95% Cotton, 5% Spandex
Sizes Available: M – 2XL
Color(s): Beige, white
Style: Boyshort briefs
Waistline: Low

A fun, breezy sundress is a perfect warm weather wardrobe staple, and it’s an ideal grab-and-go fashion choice that’s comfortable during pregnancy. Wearing boyshorts underneath, like this neutral set from Tremour Maternity (check price on Amazon) , assure your modesty even on the breeziest day and preventing painful chafing. The under-bump waistband cut saves your belly button from irritation and displaces pressure from your bump, and the soft, high-quality cotton-blend construction breathes, helping you stay cool and fresh.

What we love
  • These underwear offer a bit of extra modesty if you’re wearing a short dress
  • The leg bands are wide, so they won’t cut into your thighs
Watch for
  • Some wearers may find that the leg length isn’t long enough to prevent chafing

Best Seamless

Our opinion

Material: 95% Nylon, 5% Elastane
Sizes Available: S – XXL
Color(s): Nude
Style: Shapewear
Waistline: High

Whether you’re ready to slip into a dress that rocks your curves or just want to smooth down a few unruly bumps, shapewear can be an elegant solution. Of course, during pregnancy, it’s important to choose something like Franato’s Seamless Maternity Shapewear (check price on Amazon) , which offers gentle support without putting too much pressure on your growing belly. This helps to create a smooth line for your legs, hips, and rear without negatively impacting baby. There’s no closures to struggle with here, as the garment conveniently pulls right on and off. The extra long cut of the legs is also great for preventing chafing.

What we love
  • These are pull-on, so there’s no annoying snaps or hooks to contend with
  • The legs are cut long, so it slims down the thigh and prevents chafing
Watch for
  • Some wearers may find the shaping capacity insufficient compared to their pre-pregnancy shapewear

Best For Plus Size

Our opinion

Material: 95% Cotton, 5% Spandex
Sizes Available: S – 3X
Color(s): Black
Style: Briefs
Waistline: High

While low-cut bikinis and briefs are comfortable for some pregnant women, plus-size moms may find them to offer too little coverage. A gentle over-the-bump panty with gentle support, like this plus size maternity lingerie from NBB (check price on Amazon), offers both front and rear coverage in a soft, stretchable cotton blend fabric. The comfort-friendly waistband doesn’t press into your baby bump, and the tummy section is specially designed to expand with your body as your grow during pregnancy.

What we love
  • These are pull-on, so there’s no annoying snaps or hooks to contend with
  • The legs are cut long, so it slims down the thigh and prevents chafing
Watch for
  • Some wearers may find the shaping capacity insufficient compared to their pre-pregnancy shapewear

Our verdict

Under-bump bikinis (check price on Amazon) are a popular pick for many moms-to-be, as they shift pressure away from the growing baby bump and prevent irritation of the sensitive belly button. Those with an extra low cut, like Intimate Portal’s bikinis, are best at ensuring these goals are met. They’re also some of the best picks for wear during c-section recovery, as they prevent rubbing and irritation at the surgery site.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Neve Spicer
Written by Neve Spicer Updated on July 23rd, 2021

Pin for later

Read this next