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The 8 best ever postpartum recovery shorts and leggings

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Depending on the type of birth you’ve had, you might experience a few not-so-fun experiences in postpartum. Whether you’ve had a c-section, experiencing lower back issues, have separated abdominal muscles, or have had tearing from vaginal delivery, it’s a time to take a few extra steps when it comes to self care with postpartum recovery shorts or leggings.

Recovery shorts or leggings can help with a range of recovery needs and have been shown to positively impact c-section recovery, issues like lower back pain, perineal issues or weakness and instability of the hips and pelvis post-birth. Diastasis recti, also known as abdominal separation, is when the muscles that meet in the middle of your stomach separate. It’s very common during pregnancy, and it’s thought up to 60% of women will experience some degree of abdominal separation. Thankfully recovery shorts, postpartum shapewear, and postnatal compression tights help in closing your abdominal muscle separation too.

What are postpartum recovery shorts?

Created to support your body in the areas you need it most, postpartum shapewear usually involves a degree of compression. Shapewear that is designed specifically for postpartum can help treat diastasis recti by providing support to the muscles and allowing the connective tissue to heal. Medical-grade compression is used in postpartum clothing to help those regions that require longer to heal after giving birth. This is a bit different to regular shapewear, which is designed to help shape your body purely from an aesthetic perspective. Regular shapewear could even incorrectly compress the wrong areas after birth. If you’re unsure which postpartum shapewear to use, consult a healthcare professional.

Benefits of wearing postnatal recovery shorts and leggings

Thankfully recovery shorts, postpartum shapewear, and postnatal compression tights help in closing your abdominal muscle separation as well as help you through c-section recovery. Wearing postnatal recovery and compression garments can aid your recovery process, mainly due to the support they provide. Postnatal recovery shorts and leggings are made to support the lower back and pelvic floor, which have been stressed during pregnancy. Postnatal recovery shorts and leggings are known to:

  • Improve postpartum recovery; Aid in the healing of abdominal muscle separation (Diastasis Rectus Abdominus Muscle)
  • After a caesarian or perineal trauma, provide support and healing
  • Increase your stability and mobility, especially if you had pelvic instability during pregnancy
  • Possibly even assist in regaining your pre-pregnancy body shape.

What to consider when choosing postpartum recovery clothing

With so many options to choose from across a really wide price range too, there are some key features to look for  when choosing postpartum recovery clothing that can help you narrow it down:

  1. Anti chafing material
  2. Compression support
  3. A feeling of support
  4. Opaque material
  5. Stitching that won’t interfere with your wounds

Other factors that may help in your decision are whether the product was designed in consultation with a professional.

How to style recovery clothing for a stylish postpartum wardrobe

You might be wondering how to incorporate these shorts and leggings into your postpartum wardrobe. The main thing to consider postpartum is staying comfortable. So before considering style here, think about the recovery clothing and type of fabric, and whether it’s the right fit for you. You don’t want to feel constricted or be in anything too loose and ineffective. 

Once you’ve got the right fit for your body you can think about how these might be incorporated into your postpartum wardrobe. Most recover clothing options come in a range of sizes and lengths, from mini bike shorts to full length leggings and everything in between. 

Consider the weather where you live, your lifestyle activity level and how you might get the most wear out of these as you want to wear these as often as you can. For example, I personally prefer longer leggings but if it’s warm, I may choose mini bike shorts so that I can wear them underneath skirts, dresses or longer shorts. Someone else might want to wear these out with a shirt and matching singlet as a complete look. It’s really up to you – there are no rules at this stage, new mama

The top 8 best reviewed postpartum recovery shorts and leggings on the market

Affordable postnatal recovery wear

These affordable and easy to style shorts from Emamaco give you support where it counts, making your postpartum recovery just a little bit easier. This outfit consists of a tank top and a pair of recovery shorts and at a very, very good price point.

Pregnancy Recovery Emama 3/4 Leggings - Pockets Black
Credit: emamaco

Pregnancy Recovery Emama 3/4 Leggings – Pockets Black


Best high waisted recovery shorts

Perfect for postpartum recovery and some of the highest rated shorts in the world, these high-waist shorts from SRC Health provide their classic compression designed to sit around C-Section and episiotomy scars.

SRC Rehab - Women's High Waist Shorts
Credit: SRC Health

SRC Rehab – Women’s High Waist Shorts

Mama Choice Badge

Best postnatal recovery leggings

Perfect for winter and cooler climates or to mix up your shorts too, the SRC Health recovery leggings provide serious compression while still being really comfortable.

SRC Recovery Leggings
Credit: SRC Health

SRC Recovery Leggings

Mama Choice Badge

Best reviewed recovery shorts and leggings – all round

With hundreds of 5 star reviews from all over the world, SRC Health is to most reviewed recovery short and leggings out there. SRC Health prides itself on rigorous testing to ensure these shorts and leggings don’t lose their compression qualities, even after multiple washes. With lots of options from shorts to full length leggings, there’s plenty to love about the best reviewed recovery activewear from SRC Health. 

SRC Recovery Short - Mini
Credit: SRC Health

SRC Recovery Short – Mini

Mama Choice Badge

Best reviewed recovery tummy tuck leggings

While these look like regular shapewear leggings, the full length leggings from Emamaco have been specifically designed for postpartum recovery and tummy control.

Pregnancy Recovery Emama Full Length Leggings - Pockets Black
Credit: emamaco

Pregnancy Recovery Emama Full Length Leggings – Pockets Black

Best reviewed recovery activewear

We love the complete versatility of these shorts. Not only are they the perfect length, but you can wear them – as it says on the tin – before, during and after. These are super comfortable, made with Bamboo and Spandex, and the material fares well in heat too.

Best reviewed C Section recovery short

The SRC Recovery shorts are made to support your body after a c section. They’ve been designed to lift your pelvic floor and provide targeted compression. Check out our honest review here.

SRC Recovery Shorts
Credit: SRC Health

SRC Recovery Shorts

The importance of proper fit when wearing postpartum recovery shorts and leggings

The right fit is essential when it comes to postpartum recovery shorts or leggings. That’s because these products are made to support and comfort the abdominal and pelvic area after childbirth. The last thing you need is any discomfort, slipping, and inadequate support that can result from ill-fitting recovery shorts or leggings as this can irritate any pain or discomfort you may already be feeling. A well-fitted pair of postpartum recovery leggings and shorts will offer the required support, stay firmly in place, and prevent chafing or rubbing. To choose the proper size for your body type, carefully measure yourself, refer to the manufacturer’s size chart or even get a professional fitting. It’s worth it!

More FAQs about postnatal recovery shorts

How long should I wear recovery shorts for?

How long you wear postpartum recovery shorts or leggings will depend on a number of things, including your personal recovery process and your doctor’s advice. It is generally advised to wear recovery shorts for the first 6-8 weeks postpartum, which is typically the time when the most notable physical changes occur, however depending on how quickly they recover, some women might need to wear them longer. For specific guidance on how long to wear postpartum recovery shorts, it’s always best to speak with your ob/midwife or GP. The ultimate objective is to make sure that you’re super comfortable and that your body is receiving the support it requires to recover.

How long after birth should I wait to wear recovery shorts?

The majority of women begin to wear recovery leggings around day 6 after giving birth, Those who delivered vaginally may begin sooner, whereas those who underwent a c-section may need to wait a little longer for their abdominal wound to heal. For proper support of your perineum and abdomen, make sure the waistband is pulled up high over your stomach. While some women experience immediate relief, others might gradually become aware of the support. Your shorts or leggings should definitely not be uncomfortable so if they are, make sure to check with the supplier and your medical professional.

How do recovery shorts work?

You might be wondering how recovery shorts function and how they can improve postpartum recovery time. Recovery shorts function by supporting the pelvic and abdominal regions after childbirth. They promote proper healing, posture improvement, and discomfort relief. Recovery shorts’ use of compression helps to improve circulation and reduce swelling, which can hasten the healing process.

How tight should recovery shorts be?

Shorts for recovery should be snug enough to offer support but not so snug as to be uncomfortable or restrict blood flow. Make sure you can fit two fingers between the waistband and your skin as a general rule of thumb.

Can they help you with weight loss and toning over time?

Recovery leggings and shorts aren’t made with weight loss or toning in mind. Their main function is to provide postpartum abdominal and pelvic support. Wearing them might make you feel more at ease and help with posture, but they can’t take the place of a balanced diet and regular exercise.

Are recovery leggings worth it?

Recovery leggings are worth it if they provide the necessary support and comfort for your postpartum recovery process. Everyone’s recovery is different. You might feel you don’t need recovery clothing, you might feel you need the support and structure or you might be in more pain or discomfort than normal in which case they would be recommended by your doctor. It’s a personal journey but one you should feel informed about.

Can I wear compression shorts overnight?

Yes, you can wear compression shorts overnight. It’s recommended to wear your recovery shorts for as many hours in a day as you can. However, it’s always best to check with your doctor, especially if you have any medical conditions, tend to get hot when you sleep, or have other discomfort.

Recovery leggings vs shorts

You’ve got the ultimate call. It’s all up to what you need. Summer activities are way more fun in shorts, but you can also wear them under other clothes for a little extra support. You can choose a shorter length short and wear these under other items, or rock these with a shirt and singlet, or baggy tee if you prefer. 

Leggings are perfect for activities like running, walking, or any other workout. To stay comfortable and supported all day long, just wear them as regular leggings with your favourite top when it’s a bit chilly.

Postpartum recovery shorts vs belt

There are two types of maternity belts you can choose from: post-pregnancy tummy wraps and pregnancy support belts. The problem with most maternity belts, even those with stretchy inserts, is that they don’t move with your body, can be too restrictive, and could need constant adjusting. Plus, they aren’t exactly the most attractive or comfiest thing to wear, especially with tighter clothes.

When someone says “maternity support belt,” they’re usually talking about the pregnancy support belt. It also goes by other names like belly belt, pregnant belt, pregnancy belly support, or belly support belt. If you’re suffering from bad Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) or instability, a maternity support belt can give you a boost when used with your recovery shorts or undies.

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Style Editor. Minimalist mama writing about capsule wardrobes. Inspired by French women yet also unafraid to leave the house with food on me.