In Pursuit of the Perfect Pair of Maternity Leggings

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The more pregnant you get, the more maternity leggings require the structural support of the Burj Khalifa. I learnt the importance of construction the hard way after buying a pair of leggings online in Korea from a local brand during my last pregnancy. They fitted so badly and the quality of the material was so poor that at work they fell down to my knees. Luckily I was wearing them under a dress. I had to hold them up for the rest of the day and throughout the hour-long subway journey back.

Before pregnancy, I avoided leggings. The trend for leggings under a tunic when I returned to Britain from Paris fifteen years ago passed me by—you would never see a French woman in a pair of leggings. Now, things are different: Seraphine, run by a French lady, have a lot of leggings built for western women. I have two pairs: one faux leather, one for at home.

The seamless over the bump leggings for at home are priced £19; they feel light weight and comfortable; they stay up. They do have a strange looking section at the top of the legs (probably to stop them falling down). They also share the same basic design as ones I bought from Mothercare after I gave birth the first time, but just before it went out of business in Korea three years ago. The Seraphine ones, however, feel slightly thicker and generally better quality. If you’re living in leggings at home during lockdown and don’t want to do much physical activity, these make sense. That said, if you can, I recommend paying £10 more for the bamboo ones.

My first pair of leggings this pregnancy were part of the ASOS Maternity essentials pack: t-shirt, dress, skirt, and leggings for £17.50. The quality of the material is poor, they have started to sag, they are slightly see through, but they are comfy, extremely cheap, and don’t fall down.

Price was a big issue when shipping to Korea. You need to stay under the customs limit of £97—if you go over the limit by even £1, the process takes much longer, the shipper charges fees, customs charges tax on the whole amount and on top of the VAT already paid in England, and soon costs have doubled. My main purchase in Korea was a pair of Seraphine faux leather leggings.

For months I hesitated about buying leather leggings, and finally decided to for Valantine’s Day. I should have thought: people who do not look good in faux leather leggings when not pregnant, will probably still not look good when pregnant. Leggings generally are not friendly to people who don’t have perfect thighs. However, I was bored and feeling brave.

Sadly, the leggings arrived the Monday after Valentine’s Day. That disaster aside, I wore them for work with a white shirt and a white jacket—as one of the few foreigners, I stuck out anyway. Now I’m in my third trimester the under the bump style is uncomfortable; they are also a bit much for a quiet town/city in Yorkshire.

Back home, I’m walking outside every day and need something not see through, and not quite so noticeable as faux leather.

GapFit leggings are like a hug. The material is soft and thick; it cocoons you all the way to the top of your bump. The support probably comes from the structure and the material, which is described as sculpting and as having four-way stretch. They were also delivered next day, even with free shipping and 20% off, although the price fluctuates. Downsides are that they have strangely shaped ankles, and they have seams running all over. Perhaps these seams are helpful for aerodynamics when people are running fast. For a slow moving pregnant woman, they’re bizarre.

My quest to find the perfect maternity leggings naturally will soon end. Faux leather leggings are fun, but I wish I’d started to exercise earlier and bought active wear sooner. My Bulgarian teacher tells me they haven’t been allowed outside for exercise at all, and I heard Korean friends say their children have been kept inside the whole time. I’m lucky to be here and having these dilemmas at all.

Being able to go out walking in the fresh air has decreased aches and pains. I had thought it would be easy to get fit, however, at first I was just getting more pregnant. Even with a pair of walking boots and M&S anti-blister socks, I got one on each toe, and a blue runners toe. However, the waters of swollen feet suddenly receded. I walked through the cramp and the backache and made a personal best of six km in one hour twenty minutes.

Now it seems that in the last few months/weeks of my pregnancy, limitations to exercise will not be leggings or my lack of fitness, but a lack of facilities en route. The route is beautiful.

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