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Best maternity underwear for pregnancy and beyond

Comfort is key when it comes to underwear in pregnancy and post-birth. Here’s our pick of the nicest knickers and most perfect pants for pregnancy and beyond.

By Mumsnet HQ | Last updated Dec 16, 2021

Decent maternity underwear can make all the difference to how you feel in pregnancy, as well as making any outfit look instantly better.

In pregnancy, your skin is more sensitive, your body temperature higher… and that’s before we even get to your burgeoning bump (and all the other bits that seem to be burgeoning, too). Pregnancy underwear that helps keep you cool and comfortable, and doesn’t constantly roll down, can help with all that.

Read next: The best nursing bras according to Mumsnetters »

Equally, after birth, you’ll need knickers that have plenty of room for pads, are roomy and won’t irritate or cut in anywhere. If you’ve had a C-section you’ll also want pants that won’t run on your wound as it heals. Disposable underwear is available but often isn’t all that comfy, so some postpartum pants that wash well might be worth the investment. Whether you’re an under-the-bump woman or want some big knickers that would make Bridget Jones blush, we’ve got you (and your bump) covered.

1. Best maternity underwear: Intimate Portal Under the Bump maternity knickers

“These are awesome. I’ve worn them since 20 weeks. I’m now 35 weeks.”

These six-packs of maternity knickers are really good value and super-comfy, too. They’re made from a lovely soft fabric and have excellent ‘bum coverage’ with no VPL. Who wants ‘skimpy’ at this time of life, after all? They are, however, cut nice and low in the front so they sit easily under your bump (they claim to be suitable to wear with a C-section wound, but personally we might go for over-the-bump styles to be sure) and have a ‘crossover’ style at the front which allows for more ‘give’ and prevents the elastic digging in under your belly.

We love the range of patterns and styles available (10 different packs to choose from), so many maternity knickers are just a bit boring. And we liked the fact that the gusset is only lightly coloured so that you’d notice any spotting or the start of a show later in pregnancy.

Need to know

  • Machine washable
  • Tumble dry on low
  • 95% Refined Cotton, 5% Spandex. Crotch Inner Lining: 100% Cotton
  • Available in 5 sizes and 10 different colourways
  • RRP: From £15 for 6

2. Best value maternity pants: HB Select Under the Bump maternity briefs

These are very similar in design to the Intimate Portal pants, above and again, a really good price. They don’t have the same sort of pretty patterns but the colours are still attractive and they have the same lightly coloured gusset for peace of mind so you can see any spotting or discolouration immediately. They also have the soft ‘crossover’ style at the front that makes them one of the comfiest under-the-bump styles to wear.

Need to know

  • 95% refined cotton and 5% spandex. Crotch Lining: 100% breathable cotton
  • Available in five sizes and four different colourway packs
  • Machine wash cold or hand wash only
  • Tumble dry low or hang to dry
  • RRP: From £11 for 6

3. Best shorts style maternity pants: JoJo Maman Bebe maternity briefs

“I was just wearing briefs in a few sizes up… but then I bought a pair of the JoJo Maman Bebe ones and they are soooo much better!”

Stretchy shorts in soft cotton that will appeal to anyone who likes a ‘boy shorts’ style of knicker. These are designed to be gentle and feel comfortable on delicate skin and the pretty lace detailing is all on the thigh so it won’t irritate even the most irritable of bumps. Reviews suggest they are cut slightly on the small side so you might want to size up.

Need to know

  • Available in three sizes in black or white
  • Matching bra available
  • 95% cotton, 5% elastane
  • Machine wash at 30
  • Tumble dry on low
  • Iron inside out
  • RRP: £14 for 3

4. Best maternity pants for after a C-section: Cantaloop C-Section pants

“I used the Cantaloop C-section pants. They were pricey but were great, and offer tummy support, too, which I found good. They were much, much better and more comfy than ordinary large knickers. I still wear them!”

If you know you’re having a C-section it’s well worth getting some proprietary C-section pants in advance to put in your hospital bag. These were specially designed with the advice of midwives and obstetricians with an ultra-smooth panel that covers and supports your Caesarean wound as it heals. They have a soft, high waistband that won’t dig in and sits high above your wound so it won’t rub on or irritate it, and are designed to accommodate a maternity pad for the days after birth.

Need to know

  • Special smooth panel over middle section
  • 91% Polyamide, 9% Elastane
  • Machine wash at 30 or higher
  • RRP: From £22 for 2

5. Best plus size maternity pants: NBB Adjustable Maternity Underwear

These maternity pants go up to an XXXL and are great for bigger bumps, as they include an integrated light support band that just hugs your bump and helps relieve a bit of the pressure the weight of your baby and your bump. They give lots of coverage and don’t seem to slip or roll down at all. The stretchable, breathable cotton is super soft on sensitive pregnant skin.

Need to know

  • Available in 4 sizes
  • 100% cotton
  • RRP: From £32 for 4

6. Best supermarket maternity pants: Sainsbury's Love Luna Lady Leaks Black Maternity Pants

“I’ve got the love Luna ones from Sainsbury’s – as a first try. They’re pretty good. You just wash as normal, in with other stuff – they dry very quickly.”

Love Luna makes period pants, which you might think you won’t need during pregnancy or in the weeks after birth, but actually they can be really handy. Lots of women find they have a lot more vaginal mucus when pregnant, and so need to wear a pad, and that’s before you get to the issue of a baby putting pressure on your bladder. For the same reasons, they’re a good option for after the birth, too.

These are period pants designed specially for maternity and have a crossover front, sealed seams for comfort and a padded gusset that extends past where a pad would sit so it catches any leaks. The gusset also has a waterproof layer and an antibacterial and anti-odour layer that lasts for at least 50 washes.

Need to know

  • Available in 4 sizes up to a size 16
  • 95% cotton, 5% elastane. Gusset: 100% polyester. Padding: 84% cotton, 16% elastane
  • Cool wash with similar colours, no soaking or softener
  • Line dry only, do not iron
  • RRP: £12

7. Best maternity pants for after birth: Kindred Bravely postpartum underwear high waist

Kindred Bravely make great maternity bras, too, so it stands to reason that they know a lot about women’s bodies. Made from super-soft fabric, these postpartum pants come up high to your belly button, so your C-section wound isn’t irritated or rubbed by a waistband and your belly feels a bit supported and enclosed.

The pretty lace band doesn’t pinch or dig in but adds a pretty touch that makes you feel a bit less ‘medical’, particularly important after a spell in hospital. The pants offer really full coverage, giving you that feeling of comfort and support, and create a slightly smoother silhouette too, with no rumpling, crumpling or sagging.

Need to know

  • Matching bra available
  • Available in 5 sizes
  • 95% rayon, 5% spandex. Gusset: 100% cotton
  • Machine washable
  • RRP: From £22 for 3

8. Best maternity underwear for support: Natori Women’s Bliss Perfection maternity briefs

These Natori briefs are bump support and a pair of pants in one. If you find you need to wear a bump band every day to help you feel comfortable, a hybrid style like this does away with the need for multiple layers (and constantly fiddling with your clothes to stop your belly band rolling up or your knickers rolling down).

The central panel gently but firmly ‘holds’ your bump without constricting at all, to help prevent aches and pains in your back and belly. These offer great all-round coverage and feel really soft and cosy to wear. Our only complaint would be that they are hand wash only, which feels like added faff at a time when you’ve quite enough to do. But if you’re struggling with pregnancy aches and pains, they’re worth it.

Need to know

  • 62% nylon, 38% spandex. Lace: 85% nylon, 15% spandex. Gusset: 100% cotton
  • Hand wash only
  • Available in 4 sizes and 2 colours
  • RRP: From £24

9. Best patterned maternity underwear: Cotton Whisper 3-pack over-the-bump maternity pants

Looking for some pants with a sense of humour? These should do the trick. They have a high waist that comes right up over the bump, and they can be adjusted in case you need to let them out a little as you grow. Each of the three pairs in the pack has a slightly different emoji style face on the front panel to turn your bump into a happy smile and with their soft fabric and roomy style there’s no reason why your bump wouldn’t be very happy indeed in these.

Need to know

  • 95% cotton, 5% spandex. Gusset: 100% cotton
  • Machine-washable
  • Available in 6 sizes
  • RRP: From £13 for 3

10. Best breathable maternity underwear: Manci bamboo over-the-bump maternity pants

Prone to feeling a bit overheated in pregnancy? These bamboo undies might help. Bamboo is naturally soft and breathable, helping to keep you cooler, while still offering plenty of support. The top of these pants comes right up, enclosing your whole bump and they have plenty of stretch to accommodate your body as it grows, but they feel beautifully light to wear.

Need to know

  • Available in M & L
  • 75% bamboo fibre, 17% polyamide, 8% elastane
  • RRP: £27 for 2

How to find the best and the comfiest maternity underwear for you

Knowing your under-the-bump from your over-the-bump and your boy cuts from your briefs is a lot to learn. Because we know you’ve got enough on your plate already we’ve put on our big girl pants on your behalf and tracked down the best maternity knickers on the market, as well as summarising how to find the best pregnancy pants for you. Are you sitting comfortably? Well if you’re not, just read on…

Do you really need maternity underwear?

One pair of knickers is basically the same as another pair of knickers, right? Well, in your first trimester that might well be the case, but as your bump grows you might find you want some pants that pack more of a pregnancy punch. Maternity underwear accommodates your bump, either sitting underneath it or coming up over the bump, so the pants are more comfortable than your average pair of non-pregnancy knickers, and they can offer a bit of support. They’re also usually made from soft, comfy material with no scratchy lace or bits that might rub sensitive pregnancy skin.

After your baby’s born, you might also be glad of something a little more, um, ‘capacious’ than your average undies to house those giant post-partum pads, give a bit of support to your belly as it deflates, and maybe also to take into account a C-section wound as it starts to heal.

What are the different types of maternity underwear?

The two basic types are under-the-bump and over-the-bump. Which you go for depends entirely on which you find most comfortable. If you’ve always been a big knickers sort of woman, you might feel more ‘enclosed’ in an over-the-bump style, They also offer a bit more support if your bump is huge, as well as warmth!

If you generally are used to something a bit skimpier you might prefer your pants to sit beneath your bump. If you have sensitive skin on your belly, these can be a better bet, too, and if you get very hot, skimpier knickers won’t contribute to your inner thermostat going on the blink. Obviously, you don’t have to nail your colours to the mast though. You might like to try a few of each. Additionally, there are other styles such as maternity thongs and boy shorts styles.

What to look for in maternity underwear

Other than the style and design you want, you might want to look for seamless pants that will sit more smoothly; breathable materials that will help keep you cool and let the air circulate a bit around your nether regions; and features like pockets to hold a pad. A nice wide band, rather than skinny elastic will stop them digging in, and look for comfort bands around the leg holes, too.

Can tight underwear hurt my baby?

It’s enormously unlikely and not something you need to lose sleep over. However, really tight undies can contribute to thrush as well as heartburn, and if it’s very tight you can end up with circulatory problems, which are all things that won’t make you feel great and could eventually have knock-on effects for your baby as a result.

What is the best underwear for pregnancy?

Finding a style that suits you is the most important thing, but if we had to pick just one, we’d go for Intimate Portal’s under-the-bump maternity knickers. They come in a six-pack in a range of colours and have a crossover belly band that sits softly under your bump. They’re super soft and completely VPL-free, too.

How we chose our recommendations

Before beginning our research we checked in with the experts at the NCT to see what advice they gave about buying the best maternity underwear. Armed with that knowledge we scoured review sites and online stores in search of bestsellers and those knickers that had won awards and accolades. We also consulted the Mumsnet Talk boards to find out which maternity underwear impressed, and which they thought were a bum deal. We collated all that information to form a long list of the best maternity knickers on the market and then curated that list to create our top 10, which we think offers something for everyone.

Why you should trust us

Mumsnet has been helping parents make their lives easier since 2000 and, in those years, we’ve seen, tried and reviewed thousands of products. Transparency is really important to us and that's why we're always upfront about where we find our recommendations. We write about products that we feel offer the best value to most parents – the ones that our users would recommend to their own friends and family.If you decided to buy something that we recommended as a result of our research, we usually (not always) get paid affiliate commission from the retailer where you make a purchase. But, if you weren't impressed with the product and decided to return it, we wouldn't make a penny.

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