The Preggo Athlete, Take 3 - What to Wear

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Warning - this post may get a little personal. I've been promising a preggo clothing post for months, so it's about time I get it done. It won't be long before I'm talking post-partum clothing!

Average weight gain in the first 12 weeks is supposed to be about 2 pounds, and at that point, baby and uterus are still tucked behind the pubic bones. Logic would tell you that you really wouldn't need any clothing changes during that time, but it seems pregnancy is not logical.

I first noticed changes in the way that my sports bra fit. At around 5 or 6 weeks, my regular Enell bra wasn't fitting, and that thing is not forgiving. I had to use the one that was a half size bigger than my normal ones. Before 8 weeks, I needed to upgrade a full size. Not only do the girls seem to grow at an amazing speed, they are super sore and require a LOT of support. If you've always been gifted in that department, you probably have a favorite brand and can just buy a bigger size. If you've never had to think about supportive sports bras, now would be a good time to find a style you like. You're going to need a good one in the next few months. As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I went from Enell's 0 to a 1 and then graduated to a 2. I've already got the 3 on hand since I don't know how much bigger they'll get before the end of my pregnancy and certainly through breastfeeding. The great thing about these bras is that they are front closure, which my experienced mommy friends tell me is really helpful for breastfeeding. I have also had a number of friends recommend Moving Comfort's Fiona and Juno styles since they have front adjustable straps that make breastfeeding easier. Since I've now grown out of my biking sports bras, I've ordered a couple of these styles online. They should hopefully be here next week, and I'll have to let you know the verdict.

The second thing I grew out of WAY before I thought I would was bike shorts. By week 8 or so, my regular ones were really uncomfortable, even though the weight I'd gained at that point was about equal to a weekend's worth of food indiscretions. I can't really explain it. We've all had the feeling of our clothes just not quite fitting right, but tight clothing during pregnancy is more than that. The best I can describe it is that it feels like something's wrong. It may be mostly mental experiencing that tight fitting feeling and knowing that you're squeezing on the baby, but it felt like more than that. I began looking for maternity bike shorts pretty quickly, and the only ones I could find looked huge and were going to set me back $60. I refused to pay that much money for a pair of shorts I couldn't even try on and would only be wearing for a few months, so I went to my nearest REI and scoured their clearance rack (they also have a great selection online). I found a pair that had a really wide waistband (which I quickly learned is essential). They only had an XL. I was looking for a large and am normally a medium, but I figured I'd grow into them. I was right. Although they were pretty baggy when I first bought them, they now fit me perfectly. I can tuck the wide band under the bump, and they're still pretty comfortable. Since I'm on my trainer, I don't really need the extra over the bump support. I guess my general advice for looking for bike shorts (if you don't want to buy maternity-specific ones) is to stay away from typical form-fitting, narrow waistbanded shorts. Go instead with a pair that sits a little lower on your belly, is made with a more recreational fit, and has a waistband that is a couple of inches wide. I've been able to get by with just one pair since I'm only on my bike once or twice a week and we do laundry a lot. I'm not too worried about wearing them out.

Big banded shorts fit well under the bump. The shorts are still a little big in the legs.

At around 13 weeks or so, my running shorts didn't fit well anymore. I was able to wear some of my pre-pregnancy skirts, capris, and pants through about 18 weeks, but there were only a couple that fit at that point. One of my pairs of capris still fits, but the rest of them gave me that tight "something's wrong" feeling. Not only that, but I noticed that I would feel a lot more crampy when I ran in pants that were too tight. I scoured the internet again and found that and both had a decent selection and clearance deals, but I was nervous to pay so much money and risk it not fitting and having to deal with the hassle of returns. Thankfully, we have an outlet store between our house and our parents' houses. I found several pairs of shorts, capris, and pants for $5-25 each. Again, the wide waistband (or at least very forgiving elastic at the waist) is key. Fortunately, outlet stores tend to carry really big sizes. I opted for XL in most of these styles, and although they are too big in the legs and the pants are a bit long, they're still fitting me comfortably. What I didn't find at the outlet stores, I was able to supplement with the clearance section at my favorite running store, Run N Fun in St. Paul. I found a pair of tights and two pairs of shorts each at 50% off. I bought the tights in an XL. The one pair of size L shorts I bought was a little optimistic. I grew out of them a few weeks later. The newest shorts I bought are an XL and are roomy enough to likely get me through to the end. Nobody tells you exactly how much your hips will expand and your butt will grow while you are preggo. Everybody puts on weight differently. While nothing will fit over my bump at this point, most of these bottoms are roomy enough to accommodate the rest of my, ahem, curves.

Believe it or not, shirts have been the most forgiving item of clothing for me. While I normally prefer to wear my shirts on the fitted side, I have plenty of race shirts that have extra room. I did have to buy several short-sleeved/sleeveless shirts. While my regular ones stretch just fine, the key is length - I don't need giant amounts of belly poking out a la white trash style. The big white one in the picture below is actually a size small tall, and it should get me by for a while yet.

My favorite pre-pregnancy shirt next to my current running shirt

Notice how the current pregnancy shirt fits well over the bump? It stays there during my runs.

Um, yeah. Steve convinced me to put this one up. This is pulled down all the way, and I'm sure it would ride up during my runs...

My other two are size XL with ample length. they aren't nearly as body hugging as my white one. I found these at the outlet store for $10-15 each. I never needed to buy any long-sleeved shirts. Although not all of my pre-pregnancy ones still fit (too short), I still have plenty to choose from. If I were going to need long sleeves through all 9 months, I would probably need to upgrade or invade Steve's closet. When I started running with fellow blogger Abigailius, she showed me the belly support band she'd been wearing for weeks and swears by. I've started wearing one on my runs in the last week or so. The bump is getting pretty big, and I thought my back could use all of the help it could get. I was a little nervous that it would cause that crampy, too-tight feeling, but it feels great.

It's ugly as sin, but it helps keep baby off my bladder and supports my back. They tend to run $20-45 and can be found at most maternity websites, and maternity stores. I got mine at BabiesRUs.

Thankfully, my shoes and socks are still fitting at this time. We'll see if I start swelling up once it starts warming up around here.

If all else fails, raid you significant other's closet. That's what a lot of my friends have done. Unfortunately, Steve only has 10-15 pounds on me at baseline, and my legs are bigger than his normally. This wasn't an option for me. I may take advantage of his shirt selection if we keep getting cool days, but so far, mine are getting me by OK.

Keep in mind that location and amount of weight gain are very individual processes. At 31 weeks, I've gained about 25 pounds which is on the higher side of normal. I've had friends who gained 15 pounds through their entire pregnancy, and I've had friends who gained 60-80+ pounds during that time. What seems to be working for me definitely won't work for everybody, and of course there will be those women out there who we all secretly hate who never really need to stray from their normal workout wear during pregnancy.

For all of my mommy blogger friends out there - do you have anything to add? I'm sure there are websites that I never found or other great places to find deals on workout clothes-maternity or not.



You look great!

Have your feet changed at all?

And, I hate to burst your bubble, but I wouldn't anticipate any bra you buy that DOES fit you in pregnancy to continue to fit you for breastfeeding. Breast size can dramatically change when your milk comes in (and most women go through engorgement the first few weeks)--and multiple times during the day (depending on when you've last fed your baby and how much of a milk-maker you are). You'll probably want a loose, stretchy bra (which won't give you the support you crave right now during pregnancy) for those first few weeks postpartum before you spend the money on official nursing bras.


Getting tall shirts was GENIUS! I've been relying on too big race shirts and a lone compression top that I had gotten before I lost weight. My husband only had 5 pounds on me pre-pregnancy and has skinnier legs, too, so his closet isn't an option. I might hit up the Old Navy or Target clearance racks for some bigger shorts.


Pharmie - Thank you for information! I am not currently pregnant but we are trying. I am a 'sort of' triathlete. But more of a distance runner. Your blog has been very helpful! I have been told to stop biking (which makes me very sad) but I can still swim and I will do what I can!


Katie - thanks for the heads up! The 3 is WAY too big for me right now, but there's a good chance that that won't even fit...

Kimberly - let me know what you find!

Michelle - good luck! Trying is a weird time.


Another bra you might check out is the Shock Absorber. They've since been redesigned, but I swore by the Level 4 when I was pregnant and nursing. Not cheap and not cute, but they are available in some pretty extreme sizes (HH?). I just looked at their UK site and they have swimsuits now too!


Thanks for this post -- I had been waiting for it! I was pregnant but recently had a miscarriage. It was very sad but I'm getting through it and of course running is helping with that.

I guess I really am a Type A triathlete because after a few days of sadness, my reaction to the miscarriage was basically: "F--- you universe. I'm going to DO THIS." So we're trying again.

You're right, trying is totally a weird time and it's frustrating to be back there. But I'm bookmarking this because I'm confident I will need it again someday soon.

Ms. R

I am not pregnant, but I did just buy a pair of Forza Long Distance Tri shorts from DeSoto and they're amazing. You might like them for post-natal bike excursions. They essentially have a maternity waistband, and they're so comfortable! The drawstring is below the waistband.


I love this information. I don't need it now, but will at some point in the future (I hope).

You are too cute!


Hi...I'm glad I found your blog during one of my bi-weekly "cyber walkabouts" :)It's great to read about gals who are still running in their third trimesters! I'm due just a couple weeks after you (and I also did the Lucky 7K--Congratulations to you!) I wish I had known about the belly band you're using. I've pretty much given up on running, even though I still can...the next day it hurts this muscle on my pubic bone too much--have you experienced that at all? I also had to put my spin shorts away in my first trimester. I couldn't believe it, but even my legs felt larger and I was still working out as I always had been (like you I'm a marathoner and triathlete). There is one bike short that isn't maternity, but I always used to joke that they were so comfy they should be marketed to pregos---it's the Adidas Response Race Lycra Short. There's a non-elastic panel in front, so you never have that "overhang" when you lean forward on your bike. They're amazing...except I can only find them on clearance in XL.

As far as any gear to add...I've been mostly swimming lately, so my suggestion is to skip the maternity suits and buy a suit a few sizes larger than what you normally wear. I buy all my suits on If you sign up for their e-flyers, you'll often get an extra 35-40% off coupon via email. And since chlorine destroys my suits pretty fast, I don't care what mine look like. I normally wear a 32-34 swimsuit, and bought a size 38 Speedo that I've been wearing during part of my second trimester to now. It still fits perfectly.

Best of luck with your pregnancy and keep up the great work--the way you're keeping up with working out is very inspiring!


Anon - I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. As a healthcare professional, I know how common it is. As a mommy-to-be, I know that doesn't make it any easier :(


LOL - so true! Those support belts ARE ugly as sin. You'd think they'd at least make them black or something so they'd look more stealth.

One of my swear-by workout pieces has been the $14.99 Champion workout tank with built-in sports bra from Target. It runs very long in the waist, so it keeps the baby covered and doesn't ride up. I've had just a single blue one up to 32 weeks and have probably worn it 150 times by now. And even better, I'll probably be able to wear is postpartum as well.

I just bought a second one a size larger to get me through the remaining weeks and chose white this time, to help camouflage by UGH-ly white belt since it's getting warmer outside and I probably won't be able to hide it under three layers of clothing anymore!


Getting tall shirts was brilliant! I raided the clearance rack at Target for $5 XLs to get me through.

I'm a fan of the Moving Comfort Fiona. Of course, I started off in the small never-needed-support department! Post-partum I actually wear a nursing bra under the Fiona. Nursing bra lifts and seperates, and protects(!!), and Fiona locks the girls down. I found that the bra size that was fitting me in month 9 has continued to fit me while breastfeeding, except those first 3 weeks of engorgement (when you won't be running anyways).

The running skirt was my best friend in those last few months, and actually in the first several months post-partum, too, because it takes a while for some of those curves to go down!

I'm impressed that you've got the belly support band going - I never could get mine feeling right. Looking good, mama!


You look fantastic! :)
I have exactly the opposite problem as you! Somehow I'm still ok with all of my more forgiving shorts, but I have the worst time with shirts! Even the long ones (and even MATERNITY ones) ride up, and I'm getting too big for some of Chris's, too. I have one shirt left that still covers me, and that will have to work.

I love your support thing! I have one, but it's just a white band. If I can get it adjusted just right, it works wonders. If not, it makes the bladder pressure even worse!

I'm at the point where I am not going to buy anything new when I only have a few weeks left, yet I don't think I'm quite brave enough to wear just a sports bra if it gets hot either. I'm really hoping that I'll go back down to 5-month size as soon as the baby is born, so I'll have more options when it's time to start running again afterward. I'm so excited for that! We're so close, it's unreal!!!!

Rural Girl

This was a nice post. I'm sure other moms in your position appreciate it.


This was fun to read having already gone through this about 5 years ago. I'm with Kate about boob size when your breast feeding. I was a C normally and I grew during pregnancy, but when my milk came in and I was nursing I was an F or G.

I also find it strange that nursing moms would recommend the Enell bra just because it is front opening. I have used that bra for training after I gave birth and was still nursing. There is no way I would want to deal with all those hook and eye closures for the sake of nursing, no way.

This isn't a fit tip, but if you're going to nurse, get yourself some Soothies and keep them in the freezer. They will be a godsend at first when you are sore. Also, I wore a stretchy, beaded bracelet that I switched from wrist to wrist so I could remember which breat was up next(I have a friend whonused a ring).

You look great!


Great post full of lost of good advice! Since you asked...I found an awesome top (tank top) at Target, it's maternity, black, and bunched on the side. I wore that for all my workouts once I got bigger. I also bought cheap running short from target, just in a larger size, for super pregnant time and they also worked for post-postpartum walking and then running.

I didn't have luck with bras, I even got fit and bought some really supportive ones. But in the end (when I was breastfeeding) I just wore two bras at once. That was the best support for me.


Oh the belly band! I'm delurking to comment on it! Brought back miserable memories from AFTER my twins were born. I doubled my weight in the 42 weeks I was pg with them (152 to over 300lb) and after their birth I had so much space in my belly I felt like my organs were sloshing around! I wore a belly band for at least 6 weeks postpartum. But I did have full-term, 8 lb, healthy babies to show for it! Congratulations.