Growing a baby can be tough – and, as our team of judges have been (or are still!) there themselves, we knew our panel would really understand the needs of a changing pregnancy body. Our range of categories here cover some of the key items that can make those precious and challenging 9 months a little more comfortable.
Our at-home judges put maternity bras, clothing, pillows and toiletries through their paces, giving their no-holds-barred, totally honest feedback and scores on each product. Knowing what a difference a well-fitting or itch-relieving buy can make, we looked closely for entries that really enhanced comfort and support during pregnancy. We also scored for design appeal, quality of materials/ingredients and value for money.
Key features we tested/judged: supportiveness, comfort, adaptability, quality, design appeal, ease of use, value for money
GOLD – HOTMILK TEMPTATION NURSING BRA, £45.99
Why it’s a winner: The combination of luxuriously soft lace detailing with excellent support and plenty of room for pregnancy breast expansion made this 100% cotton-lined bra stand out from the rest. We love the 3-piece cup with diagonal seaming – and a nice bit of stretch in the top to allow for breast growth. It also picked up high scores for the big row of move-along-as-you-get-bigger hooks and eyes on the not-too-narrow backstrap. Our breastfeeding testers also singled out the snap-on and off clips that let you drop down the cups for nursing, saying they don’t come undone by themselves like some nursing bras they’ve had.
Tester Sarah, mum of 2, says: “This is my 2nd time breastfeeding and I’ve never had a nursing bra fit and support me as well as this one. I love the detailing – like the lace on the back of the strap. It’s nice to feel sexy again so soon after having a baby.”
SILVER – BRAVADO BODY SILK SEAMLESS NURSING BRA, £34
Why it’s a winner: This sleek, seam-free, wire-free bra, made from double-layer 4-way stretch fabric, really impressed us with its lovely, comfy, stretchy panel under the cups. It’s nicely supportive and has removable foam inserts to give those of us with larger breasts a neater shape (though some of our testers found these a bit tricky to negotiate when dropping down the cup for feeding). Our judges also really liked that it comes with conversion clips to make it a ‘regular’ bra once you’ve finished breastfeeding.
Tester Danika, mum of 5, says: “This bra ticks every box and more for me. The material is silky and soft – which is brilliant if your nipples are sore – and it’s so comfortable and supportive.”
BRONZE – ANITA MATERNITY MISS ANITA BRA, £49
Why it’s a winner: A simply designed but classy bra, from a small family-run firm, with nicely padded straps and a mesh-lined back. All our testers commented that it looks really neat and smooth under a T-shirt. The cups are moulded to create a great shape and judges really liked how they’ll hold a breastpad neatly in place, if you need to catch any leaks when your milk comes in. A understatedly pretty choice, as one of our testers said.
Tester Kshanti, mum of 2, says: “This bra is so lightweight and soft on my skin, at times it didn’t even feel like I was wearing a bra! It looks great under clothes, too.”
Pregnancy & maternity fashion
Key features we tested/judged – quality, ease of use, appeal to parents, value for money, effectiveness
GOLD – TILBEA LONDON AUDREY MATERNITY & NURSING DRESS, £69
Why it’s a winner: Our testers were impressed with the versatility of this “multi-functional” maternity dress, as well as its stretchy fabric with flattering ruching at the waist. They loved the fact that long after having baby, you could still wear it as a nursing outfit, thanks to the “easy for breastfeeding” lift-up access panel. And our judges felt the bright “statement” leopard print looked great on – working well either at work in the day or dressed up at night.
Tester Ali Bastian, mum-to-be, says: “Lovely vibrant prints, raising the bar for maternity wear. Great quality.”
SILVER – SERAPHINE ORGANIC COTTON OVER BUMP MATERNITY JEANS, £55
Why it’s a winner: Award-winning maternity clothing retailer Seraphine is known for its comfortable classics and sharp workwear for mums to be – and their over-bump maternity jeans don’t disappoint. Our testers absolutely loved these jeans, with one saying she “lived in” hers. The soft denim, forgiving belly band and overall comfort were the winning factors. Not only did they wear well, our testers found these jeans wash well too, with no fading in the wash.
BRONZE – BUMP ACTIVEWEAR FLAWLESS MESH LEGGINGS, £43
Why it’s a winner: Our testers were thrilled with these leggings, not least because of the on-trend mesh detail. They loved how the quality fabric gave them the freedom of movement to be active and also appreciated their unique look which our judges said was “cool”, “sexy and stylish.”
Tester Natalie, mum of 2, says: “Product quality is really good – didn’t go see-through when exercising and supports the bump really well.”
Hero pregnancy health product
Key features we tested/judged – effectiveness and ease of use, appeal to parents, value for money, quality of product
JOINT GOLD – BIRTHBAG, £29.99
Why it’s a winner: Our testers thought this would make a wonderful present for a mum-to-be, and they loved the quality of the items inside it. It comes in a great-sized tote bag, with everything you’ll need for your hospital stay inside. We liked the fact it covers all of the essentials – including maternity and breast pads, nappies and wipes – along with new mum products such as toiletries and a hairbrush. Extra points were also picked up for the gorgeous knitted booties, cotton scratch mitts and hat.
Tester Katie, mum of 4, says: “I really love the style and look of the bag itself and the smaller bag inside. I would recommend this product to any expectant mother looking for convenience,”
JOINT GOLD – FIRST DAYS MATERNITY SUPPLIES, PERINEAL COLD PACKS, £12.25 for 6
Why it’s a winner: According to our testers, these pads fall into the category of products that will make your post-birth days easier, but which you might not think to buy for yourself. Judges found the pads are easy to use (you just squeeze them to rupture the inner chamber and shake to activate) and felt the cooling effect really set these apart from standard maternity pads. They’re not cheap, but we felt well worth the money to help relieve soreness after birth.
Tester Janet, mum of 4, says: “Instant relief with no effort required. Nothing extra needed. I think they’d also be great for the post-pregnancy piles too. Better than sitting on a rubber ring!”
JOINT SILVER – LOLA&LYKKE, MATERNITY BAMBOO BELLY BAND, £79
Why it’s a winner: Our testers were really impressed by the comfort they felt wearing this band, finding the fabric was breathable and “never clammy”. It claims to give hip and abdominal support, and it really seemed to live up to its promise. The band also has velcro fastenings, to make it easier to take on and off, and supports balance and stability during pregnancy. Judges also liked the fact it has built-in space for hot/cold patch to relieve back ache.
Tester Emma, mum-to-be, says: “Having never really tried maternity support belts until now, I wish I had discovered one like this to use throughout my previous 3 pregnancies! I didn’t honestly expect it to give me the support it has and have the impact it has on alleviating my pregnancy symptoms. I am very active, and this belt has been fantastic – for me it has been a go to pregnancy item. There was a very noticeable difference between the days where I did not wear the band, I would feel more twinges and heaviness without it.”
JOINT SILVER – MY EXPERT MIDWIFE, SPRITZ FOR BITS, £19.50
Why it’s a winner: After childbirth, you’re generally quite sore down there. Our judges loved this midwife-developed spray – which our reviewers thought was great quality and worked really well for cooling. We liked the fact it contains natural essential oils such as lavender, tea tree oil and witch hazel, and testers also liked the smell.
Tester Sammy, mum of 2, says: “The spray provided a lovely cooling sensation. The relief is only temporary, so you need to apply often for it to be really effective, but the multi-directional spray mechanism makes it so easy to use,”
BRONZE – BABYCARE ELLE TENS PLUS, £99
Why it’s a winner: Our reviewers were really impressed that this pain-relief machine, and found the instructions easy to follow (a big plus when you’re trying to counter a contraction!). We really liked the fact that, unlike standard tens machines, it does 3 things in 1: it is a contraction timer, a tens pain relief machine, and it comes with a probe to help you strengthen your pelvic floor muscles both before and after birth.
Tester Anna, mum of 3, says; “I love that this machine can be used as pain relief while in labour, and help you after you give birth to build back up your pelvic floor muscles. I love that it has a contraction counter on it, too – that way you don’t have to worry about how far apart your contractions are as it tells you,”
Finalists: Spatone Apple with Vitamin C 28 Day | Mummy Loves Organics Shhleep Mist & Foot Oil | My Expert Midwife Pregnancy Sprays Essentials Kit | Belly Bands, Pregnancy & C-Section Deluxe Box
Pregnancy skincare & toiletries
Key features we tested/judged – Tested for ease of use, appeal to parents, worth the money, quality of product and effectiveness.
GOLD – BIO OIL, £9.99
Why it’s a winner: Bio Oil’s pink oil is a familiar sight on many bathroom shelves, and our mum testers were quick to join its army of fans. They found it brought speedy relief to their growing bump, but also loved the fact that it’s easy to use, and a small amount goes a long way. As well as being long-lasting, we also felt it was good value. The “lovely” scent, non-greasy feel and quick absorption really impressed our judges, who said their skin felt soft and smooth after use. And it gets added points for its recyclable packaging.
Tester Jess, mum of 1, says: “Brilliant product. It greatly helps with stretch marks as your body changes and gets bigger, feels nice on your skin and after a while you really see the difference it makes.”
SILVER – BOTANICO VIDO OMEGA OIL, £11.50
Why it’s a winner: As well as being vegan and free from chemical nasties, we loved the fact that this hydrating skin oil is great to use during pregnancy but works for the whole family. Our testers are all impressed with this oil’s smell, texture and feel, finding it “leaves it feeling smooth and fresh, and most of all hydrated”. It also won points for being easily absorbed, leaving skin non-greasy, and judges felt it was reasonably priced.
Tester Ali, mum-to-be says: “A great SOS product for your beauty cabinet. Great for stretch marks, I would also use on any dry patches. Rich, luxurious product with a reasonable price tag.”
BRONZE – MY EXPERT MIDWIFE MUM TO BE GIFT SET, £69
Why it’s a winner: Judges felt this lovely set of 4 award-winning products would be a great buy for expecting mums, with Fantastic Skin Elastic and No Harm Nipple Balm both having picked up MFM Awards in previous years. With its “lovely smell” and essential oils, Fantastic Skin Elastic in particular was a big hit with our testers, leaving their skin supple and providing relief from itching. With Peri Prep your Bits massage oil, and post-birth spray Spritz for Bits included, we liked the fact the set saves you £10 compared to buying individual products.
Tester Stephaney, mum of 1, says: “You can tell the quality of the product is of a high standard. The essential oils smell lovely and how it applies to skin feels very nourishing.”
GOLD – MY EXPERT MIDWIFE FANTASTIC SKIN ELASTIC, £23.50
Why it’s a winner: Our mum testers said they would happily recommend this product, finding it effective in moisturising and hydrating skin, and believing it worth trying to prevent new stretch marks as well as calming the existing ones. It was also excellent for massaging their itchy bump as it grows and their skin stretched. Thin but rich in texture, Fantastic Skin Elastic didn’t take long to absorb, and judges thought it felt good and applied well without being messy. And on price, they said it was right on the money.
Tester, Steffi-Louise, mum of 2, says: “I already have a lot of stretch marks from a previous pregnancy. During this pregnancy, it has helped keep them see-through and stopped them from flaring back up. And I’m yet to have any new ones appear.”
SILVER – NESSA ORGANICS SCAR SAVIOUR, £25
Why it’s a winner: Scar Savour is a firm favourite with mums across the UK and our testers love it too. They liked the texture of this natural and vegan-based balm, and found a little goes a long way. As well as being practical – one tester even found it effective as a soothing face balm – judges felt the high-quality glass jar it came in looked great – “nice for a little pampering after birth.” It’s not cheap, but we felt it was worth the money.
Tester Donna, mum of 2 says: “Definitely noticed an improvement on not only my stretch marks but also some inflammation patches I had on my face!”
BRONZE – FIRST DAYS MATERNITY SUPPLIES SUPER STRETCH LOTION, £20
Why it’s a winner: Super Stretch Lotion was a hit with our testers, who found it to be really nourishing. Judges felt mothers would like this “nicely scented” lotion was smooth and said it had helped in reducing their stretch marks, made their bump feel soft and stopped itchiness. Testers also reported it was “mess free and quick to apply”, and the “quick fix I could slap on mornings and evenings.”
Tester Anam, mum of 2, says: “I loved how it felt when on and stopped me going crazy scratching too. It feels luxurious and of high quality. It is also vegan friendly and made of high-quality products.”
Key features we tested/judged – value for money, quality of material, effectiveness/supportiveness, firmness, density, ease of use
GOLD – SILENTNIGHT BODY SUPPORT PILLOW, £38.00
Why it’s a winner: Scoring highly with all who tested it, the Silentnight Body Support Pillow was a clear winner in this category. The versatile shape of the pillow offers many different positions, making it ideal for a variety of needs. Our mum-to-be testers found it really supportive and comfy when held lengthways for side sleeping while pregnant, or folded into a V shape to sit up and watch TV in bed. It’s also great value, as you can use it as a supportive pillow to feed comfortably once your baby arrives, or as a back support. The super soft material and supportiveness – thanks to the soft squishy hollowfibre filling – of the pillow made it huggable and comfortable to sleep with.
Tester Stacie, mum of 1, says: “Absolutely love it! Definitely going to help when breastfeeding as well as sleeping at night.”
SILVER – CLEVEAMAMA THERAPEUTIC BODY & BUMP MATERNITY PILLOW, £71.25
Why it’s a winner: We really liked the ergonomical design of this pillow, finding it naturally cocoons your body to provide head, neck, back, bump, pelvis, neck and knee support. Testers loved that the pillow helps alleviates all the pains and pressures that come with a growing bump and the soft 100% cotton breathable cover. The premium spiral hollow fibre meant the pillow was incredibly supportive and firm which again the testers loved.
Tester Nazreena mum of 2, says: “Amazing support as very sturdy. So comfortable and even my kids love it!”
BRONZE – BBHUGME PREGNANCY PILLOW, £138.50
Why it’s a winner: Stylish, supportive and super easy to use, the bbhugme pregnancy pillow impressed judges with its squishy beanbag-style filling. We found meant the pillow was really malleable and could be used in variety of ways to provide support wherever it was needed. The modern design and muted colours also made it stand out from other pregnancy pillows.
Tester Sadie, mum of 2, says: “The best pregnancy pillow I’ve used to date, and I’ve had my fair share over my 3 pregnancies.”
Read full review of the BBhugme Pregnancy pillow
Finalist: bbhugme Nursing Pillow
The MadeForMums Awards team is led by Reviews Editor Christy McGhee and Editorial Director Susie Boone and comprises Janet Martin, Melanie Grant, Sonali Hindmarch, Anna Richardson Taylor, Jenny Yu, Sabrina Sahota, Natalie Brown, Tara Breathnach and Helen Brown, who have created, written and edited these pages after rigorous testing and judging.