Could performance and user-centricity improve the maternity space?

for World Textile Information Network,

By scientific definition, maternity support garments (MSGs) are garments designed with the purpose of supporting the abdomen and lower back of pregnant women, in turn caring also for the safety of the developing baby. Surprisingly, MSGs are still a niche segment even though women in childbearing age constitute approximately one-fourth of the populations of developed countries. Indeed, tubular bands made out of cotton and elastane are still commonly used instead of MSGs across the world. It is also surprising that unlike for medical compression garments, there are no standards regulating MSGs, which is a lack that obviously poses risks to the health of both the pregnant woman and her unborn child. Making matters even blurrier, what may look like an MSG may not provide any actual support. For instance, a head of design of a company approached by for this article acknowledged on condition of anonymity that the company’s maternity leggings’ “over the bump fabric band does not give any support, instead being a design feature that keep the jeans from sliding down. It also means the wearer does not need to wear another top to cover the bump.” Other brands’ claims seem focusing on bringing the body back into shape after birth for cosmetic reasons, meaning they also leave the aspiration of supporting the physical wellbeing of pregnant women far behind.

One brand being very serious about supporting women during pregnancy and in the postpartum stage is UK-based FittaMamma. In 2012 the brand set out to create garments that work like sport bras but support the bump, hips, and pelvis. It got its inspiration from seeing pregnant women consigned to the back of the gym, working out in baggy joggers and over-sized T-shirts. FittaMamma was endorsed by UK runner Sophie Carter, who is cited on the company’s website as saying her FittaMamma maternity wear is “still in regular use as postnatal running gear, holding and supporting her mummy tummy whilst it knits back together.” Olympic cyclist champion Dani Rowe endorsed FittaMamma maternity sportswear for helping to support hips and pelvis. Sarah Storey, a British Paralympic athlete in cycling and swimming, wore FittaMamma’s range through both her pregnancies. 


“As pregnancy progresses, your joints start to relax, so we developed garments that hold tight around the hips and pelvis,” Deborah Hazeldean, co-founder of FittaMamma, told

“We developed the garments also to support the breasts because they get bigger and more tender during pregnancy, and because many women get backache during pregnancy,” she added. 

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