Pregnancy tights: What type is best and do they actually help?

by Cassandra McCoy MAT, LAT, ATC, RYT

Pregnancy tights. Love them or hate them, they are a staple in many a pregnant woman’s wardrobe. The market is flooded with various brands, promising the best fit for you. However, when I started scouting out some for myself during the third trimester of my second baby, I began to notice a few key things about the leggings I would come across or try.

 Disclaimer: I am not rich, so I haven’t purchased all of the brands available nor have I had the pleasure of being sponsored by a brand to review their products, this is just my humble personal and professional opinion.

Varying person to person, as your baby starts to put on more weight, your tummy starts to make itself known. Whether that arises in less clothing fitting, aches and pains in the back, or other various fun pregnancy things that pop up, just ask a mom and she will tell you that there is a point where you just notice the change. 

When this happens, we start looking for something like pregnancy leggings or support to help us feel more comfortable. 

pregnant woman wearing beige long sleeve shirt standing near brown tree at daytime
Photo by Negative Space on

This didn’t really happen for me during my first pregnancy, as my baby hung out very high in my abdomen the entire time. However, this second pregnancy has been a whole different story. I have definitely shown faster (as expected) but I have also ran into a problem I never expected: varicose veins. Now, I’m not talking about the little spider veins that look like your toddler used you as a coloring book. I’m talking about the fat, nasty, painful veins that make you look like Hulk’s mother. Ouch. So, I needed some help to keep them supported and began looking for a tight that won’t press on my femoral artery/vein just under my growing belly.

I want to tell you about the few tights I got but also the response I felt from my body after wearing them; the good and the bad. 

I ordered 2 pairs of leggings from Blanqi online first. Since I knew they would take forever to get here, I also went on Amazon Prime and grabbed a single pair off there as well. The Blanqi leggings were around $65 each and the Amazon pair rang in around $20. So yay for cheaper and faster shipping, but I was curious as to the quality I could expect.

I received my Amazon leggings first, so let’s chat about those first. They came with a few thread pulls along the seams, but nothing too crazy or worrisome. I put them on ASAP. They slip right on, I didn’t feel like I was going into battle just to get them on. The top of the leggings came right up to my sports bra line and they were super soft. They are not as thin compared to others I have tried on or seen, giving you a bit more of a “free” feeling and less super restricting. I felt my veins were supported enough and the pressure that I was feeling on my pelvic veins from my old leggings was replaced by the freedom of continuous fabric all the way over my belly. They stay up well overall. I still have to readjust them and I am curious how long they will take to stretch out and be more annoying and problematic; aka slip down over the belly. 

A week or so later, I received my Blanqi leggings. I got a black and navy blue pair and I could tell just taking them out of the package that the material was different. The material is a bit more tense, and so therefore, as I put them on, I felt like I was battling a small tiger just to get them up my legs. However, once they were on and up over the belly, I could tell a difference in the compression and support. The material is thicker and more “slip” in nature. Again, not feeling my waist of my old tights digging into my pelvis and belly was a welcomed feeling.They fit tighter and more constricting around the pelvis, so just be ready for that. I feel a bit more congested yet supported in these. I don’t feel like I can do a high kick in these without splitting them….but I also have been too scared to try in fear of ripping these precious things. My belly support is nice and the top of the leggings once again hit just at my bra line. The leggings do stay up well, however, just like with the others, I have to tug every now and then. As my belly grows, I notice that more tugging is needed.

Let’s talk about pregnancy leggings in general and what I have noticed in my body after a month of wearing them.

When I wear the pregnancy tights, I notice I shift automatically into a more kyphotic posture (rounded back and shoulder dropping forward and my chin juts forward). I first noticed an increase in tension in my shoulders which in turn led me to start looking at how I was carrying my body with the tights on compared to when I had my regular tights or other clothes on. It sounds silly but I could almost automatically tell the tendency and pull of my shoulder and head forward. Also, I felt my butt squeezing was worse. A default move for many women, always squeezing our butt can lead to tension and pelvic floor dysfunction.

After experimenting with it, I think it comes down to the high top. In fear of it falling off or just the awareness of it being high on top of my belly, I tend to want to protect it and keep it from falling down, therefore I decrease that distance and pull by taking my upper body forward. This is also accented by the growing belly for sure; however, it was still notably more present with pregnancy tights on.

Also, I noticed I walked differently. The Blanqi tights are so “tight” (which is a plus and a minus all at once) that I wasn’t taking my normal full stride. During exercise, my range of motion was narrower/smaller as well and I was hesitant. This might be fantastic for someone who is very hyper mobile, so keep that in mind. With my Amazon tights, I really didn’t notice much restriction but still felt that forward pull. 

So what’s the verdict on the tights? Well, it depends. Are you wanting to support your belly and veins during the third trimester? These guys can help with that. Blanqi has more of that compression and material tightness compared to the cheaper amazon purchase. Both are very comfortable. However, if you are wearing them all the time, make sure you take note of your posture. Pregnancy changes your center of gravity and postural positioning quite a bit already, so bringing awareness to your shoulder and head positioning is a good idea anyways. The tights just might accent that a bit.

abdomen active activity belly button
Photo by on

Personally, I will continue to wear my pregnancy tights as well as my regular ones. I will just be bringing more mindfulness into how I carry my body and the tension felt in  my shoulders! However, expect a follow up article over why posture is so important during pregnancy and postpartum and how you can optimize your lifestyle and wardrobe to help make your journey pain free and comfortable.

Physical Health

Change your posture, change your life

by Julie Loder

In the classes I teach, one of the most profound things I witness is the life-transforming benefits of improving our posture.  By “improving posture” I am talking about strengthening the muscles that lengthen and decompress our spine against the downward pressure and force of gravity, not referring to a goal of achieving any particular spinal curvature or pelvic angle.  The number of all-too-common aches and pains that derive from compromised posture and a compressed spine that is not adequately supported by the muscles of the core and lumbo-hip complex (among others), is extensive. When the spine is not supported it can result in generic low back pain, to sciatica, bulging and herniated discs, neck stiffness, pain down the shoulders and arms, limitations on range of movement to reach, bend, and twist the spine as part of movements in daily life, and on and on.  Developing strength and coordination in the muscles that decompress our spine can be a major part of alleviating these kinds of pain.

One of the benefits of becoming more aware of our posture is actually tied to a different kind of pain and a different form of healing.  Our posture is a huge part of our identity, our personal history, and our way of relating to the world. Our current default posture – the way we automatically tend to stand, sit, and generally hold ourselves upright — is a result of the sum total collection of many of our experiences that impacted our body. Our decisions we have made about how to physically show up in our own bodies, as we introduce ourselves to and navigate the world.  

From beautiful, if physically taxing experiences such as pregnancy, having a child, and the years spent holding our baby on our hip/chest/back. Traumatic events that were beyond our control, like car accidents, surgeries, or other injuries we have sustained.  The events themselves and the physical scarring can indelibly alter the shape of our spine and body, and the way we feel.  

What about the actual deliberate decisions we have made about the way we would carry and present our body to the world?  Decisions that were also not health promoting, self-affirming and resulted in compromised posture?

I hear so many examples of these stories from participants in my classes.  A woman with pronounced rounding and severe atrophy of the muscles of the upper back, told the story of having such painful and embarrassing acne as a teenager that she spent years uncomfortably and antisocially hunched over to hide her face with her hair.  

Another participant with similar physical symptoms expressed that she had been hunching her back since before adolescence as she was very tall and had a very developed chest at an early age.  Being of a shy nature and not wanting to stick out, she hunched over during critical years of physical development and now, in her 40s, has really struggled to even regain the ability to feel or consciously activate the muscles of her upper back, which of course play a central role in our postural health.  

What about other more seemingly innocuous decisions like regularly wearing high heels to achieve a certain look, despite the foot, knee, and back pain they cause? 

These are decisions where we arguably betray our bodies and physical best interests as a result of personal shame and social pressure.  Sometimes these betrayals started in our earliest and most physically and emotionally vulnerable decades of life. Over the years we pay a steep price both physically and emotionally, as the initial betrayal becomes embedded in our muscular patterning.  It leaves a pronounced footprint in the form of aches and pains, and an outward self-presentation. It’s a non-verbal communication with the world – a posture — that is marked by this history of self-betrayal.    

When we become aware of and seek to strengthen our default posture as an adult – for all the incredible physical benefits it can yield — one of the things we are doing is simply learning about our musculature.  We are re-awakening muscles we do not regularly use, and inviting them to perform the work for which they are attached to our skeletal frame. This is a physically challenging and sometimes frustrating process, as the brain struggles to reacquaint itself with muscles and entire movement patterns. It can take a leap of faith to believe we can even begin to feel those muscles again.  It takes a great deal of persistence, patience, mental discipline and mind-body connection practice to overcome that neurological impasse and to be able to access the muscles with the brain. This is the first step in strengthening them.  

This is a physically challenging and sometimes frustrating process, as the brain struggles to reacquaint itself with muscles and entire movement patterns. It can take a leap of faith to believe we can even begin to feel those muscles again. 

-Julie Loder

At the same time, as we become aware of and do physical therapy on our default posture, and take the measures to rehabilitate it back to a healthier, more anatomically and mechanically friendly, health-supportive degree of strength, we very literally do immense emotional therapy for our spirit.  As our body changes, we uncover those old sources of shame, and we reconcile them emotionally and physically. We stand taller. We empower our bodies to move and rest without pain. We can completely change the energy we project and the impression and impact we make, and for the better, since it will come from a healed, dignified self, not one beleaguered under old hurts.  

As we embark on this important personal work and physical challenge of strengthening our posture, let us pair the patience needed to help our brains find our muscles with emotional openness and curiosity, compassion for, and love of self.