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What’s the scoop on maternity shapewear? Is it safe for mom and baby?

April 30, 2014

Maternity shapewear has been around for years. And for a good reason, too. Sometimes, when a woman is pregnant, it’s nice to have the little extra assistance to help cut down on the amount of jiggle going on – if you know what I mean. But over the past few years, the leading brand of control undergarments for women, Spanx, has faced major scrutiny for its line of maternity shapewear called “Mama Spanx.” The panty hose featured in this line are designed to deliver comfort by providing a non-binding waistband and under belly support to firm and lift all the right places while keeping the baby safe.

The controversy

The Spanx line for soon-to-be mammas was first introduced in 2004, and has garnered heated discussion since. There are two concerns that seem to trump all: body image and safety for mom and baby. Some question the motives of the maternity line – Does it send the message that women should be ashamed of their body, as it changes to accommodate a growing baby? Others are concerned about the fetus – does the shapewear constrict blood flow and oxygen to the baby?

First of all, I am not sure why this particular product is under such scrutiny, especially when I consider all of the other products currently on the market for maternity wear. The Belly Band, Tummy Sleeve and Belly Bra are all designed in a similar fashion to provide support and shaping. Yet, these maternity shapewear products have managed to avoid negative attention and critiques.

When I consider the multitude of pregnant women that I have encountered over the years as a maternal educator that have struggled to fit into their favorite pair of jeans, or like myself, struggled over what to wear to my husband’s Christmas party as I looked like I was ready to “pop,” maternity shapewear seems that much more appealing. Yes, pregnancy is beautiful, but I would not have minded a little extra contouring to help smooth out my thighs, or lift my rear.

Or, here’s another scenario. Maybe you experienced a previous fetal loss and decide that it would be best for you to withhold the big reveal of your new baby bump until you are through with your first or second trimester. This occurred with TV presenter Amanda Holden, who credited Spanx for her ability to hide her pregnancy from photographers for six months.

How to keep baby safe when wearing maternity shapewear

Maternity shapewear is meant to give pregnant women a boost in confidence, not harm the baby. My rule of thumb is to see if you can fit at least one finger width in between yourself and your clothes. If you can, then you know you have the right size. All clothing should allow for free range of movement, and most importantly, be comfortable.

When deciding whether or not to wear maternity shapewear, it’s important to put you and your baby first. One of my favorite phrases I like to tell my patients is, “When you look good, you feel good, and when you feel good, you do good.” That is exactly the way I feel about maternity shapewear. If it makes you feel better about yourself, then wear it! Just remember the one finger rule of thumbs to ensure a comfortable fit and maximum safety for you and baby.