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A Guide To Maternity Knickers

Got that nursing bra ready? Amazing! Now don't forget the knickers!

Belle-Lingerie13 April 2023

A Guide To Maternity Knickers

If you’re looking forward to having a baby, whether you’re already pregnant or just thinking about it, you probably know that your body will go through a lot of changes along the way. One of the most easily noticeable changes for other people is the development of your baby bump - an exciting milestone!

However, these changes can often mean that the knickers you usually wear aren’t as comfortable for you anymore. Fortunately, we’ve put together this guide to help you choose the right knickers for you during and after pregnancy.

What knickers to wear during pregnancy

In some cases, particularly in the early stages of pregnancy, you might find that your usual underwear fits well and is comfortable to wear. If that’s the case, then there’s no need to worry about buying special maternity knickers - unless you want to, of course! However, as your bump grows and your pelvis expands to accommodate your growing baby, you may find your old knickers feel tight or otherwise uncomfortable.

This is often the case with tight or skimpy underwear, which can start to chafe as you reach the later stages of pregnancy. For this reason, many women opt for larger underwear styles such as briefs or shorts. Some women also buy underwear in a larger size than usual as they gain weight during pregnancy, which can help to ensure your underwear doesn’t feel too restrictive.

When choosing underwear for your pregnancy, you should also consider whether you want the waistline of the knickers to sit over or under your bump. If you’d prefer the waistline under your bump, try low to mid-waisted knickers. These should fit comfortably - but don’t be afraid to try a different style if it doesn’t feel right.

Alternatively, you could try knickers which rise over the bump to give you extra support. This can be especially useful in the later stages of pregnancy to help reduce back pain as your bump grows bigger. Knickers which fit over the bump, such as Carriwell’s maternity support briefs, often have a stretchy fabric tummy panel so they can expand as your baby grows, keeping you feeling comfortable and secure.

Want the extra support without the high-waisted knickers? Why not consider a maternity support belt? These adjustable garments take some of the weight off your abdomen and ease the pressure on your back, helping you to maintain good posture. Support belts and bands can be worn with any knickers.

What knickers to wear after birth

As you get closer to your due date, and in the weeks after you’ve given birth, you may prefer to wear old knickers you don’t mind throwing away later. When you’re close to your due date, it’s worth being aware that you can’t always predict exactly when your baby will come, so it’s best to be prepared for your waters to break, and for post-birth recovery. You might prefer to dispose of stained knickers rather than spend time scrubbing them clean when you’ve got a newborn.

On top of this, it’s also a good idea to stick to larger knickers at this time - any style that you can use maternity pads with. Avoid thongs and other small crotch styles for the time being and stick to comfortable briefs or shorts.

If you’re feeling sore after the birth, it’s also a good idea to opt for larger, looser-fitting underwear to minimise rubbing and chafing. This is a particularly good idea if you’ve had a caesarean, which may influence the style of knickers you choose. Some women find that the waistline of low-waisted briefs rub against their caesarean scar, so high-waisted briefs may be better. Women who’ve had caesareans are often advised to choose cotton underwear, so take this into consideration as well. Or, if you’d prefer not to read through all the details of each style of underwear you like, you can buy specially designed post-caesarean knickers to save you the hassle.

Another option to consider is a post-birth belly binder. Similar in some ways to maternity support belts, post-natal tummy binders help to support your abdomen and lower back to provide extra comfort and help you maintain proper posture after birth. It may not be your top priority in the weeks after your baby is born, but using a binder can help your body to recover and heal so you can return to normal activities as soon as possible.

What size knickers to wear after birth

We’ve suggested wearing larger and looser knickers during pregnancy and after your baby is born, but how much bigger should you go? This is a personal preference and can depend on several things, such as:

  • How sensitive is your skin is
  • How much you’ve grown during pregnancy
  • Whether you prefer your knickers to be tighter or looser normally

And, in the case of postpartum knickers, whether you had a vaginal birth or caesarean can also play a role in your choice of size.

If you’re pregnant and your knickers are starting to feel tight, buy a few pairs of the next size up. Don’t leave it until you’re too uncomfortable to make the change - when you start to notice extra chafing or red marks on your skin, size up. Some women find that they only need to do this once during the pregnancy, whereas others may have to size up multiple times. Both situations are completely natural.

As for knickers to wear after birth, use the same rule. If your maternity knickers feel tight, try the next size up for a looser fit. But if they fit fine and you’re not experiencing any discomfort, you might not need to size up at all. Do whatever you need to do to stay comfortable. 

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