Prior to getting pregnant (and early in my pregnancy) I thought full panel maternity pants were the devil. I was suspicious of panels in general, and therefore stuck to under-the-belly styles as a rule, but the full panel was downright mind boggling. Who would wear those things? Who would want a piece of fabric stretching from basically your crotch to under your boobs? How is that comfortable? And, god forbid, what if you raised your arms and people actually saw the panel? Horror, I know.
But, back then I also wasn't prepared for the skin covering my ribs to be chafed by the enormous bra I had to buy to hold in my pregnant boobs. And I certainly wasn't prepared for the site of my naked stomach, stretched to huge proportions, displaying a dark line leading from my now-outie belly button to…ummm. Clearly, there are worse things than showing off a piece of fabric when you raise your arms.
As my belly grew, I could feel my low-rise maternity jeans slip down, millimeter by millimeter. I would walk, and ever so slowly they would slide. Barely perceptible at first, then as my belly grew, they would slide down further and further, gaining momentum with each step. It was driving me crazy. I started to dedicate more brain time to tracking the progress of my pants sliding down my butt. I'd walk, walk, walk then pull up my pants. Ahhh. Bliss. For two seconds. Then walk – slip, walk – sliip, walk – sliiiip, pull them up again. Ahhh. Bliss. Then walk-walk-walk and slip-slip-slip-slip. AUUUUGHHH! I finally couldn't take it anymore. I just wanted to feel pants around my waist. I craved the feeling of a waistband, firmly encircling my waist, staying put AT MY WAIST. The big problem, of course, was the complete lack of waist.
I could have worn a dress, but at this point dresses made me look like a walking tent. Not my best look. And I found the Bella band to be overrated – it did nothing to slow the progress of my pants downhill, not to mention that fact that my under-the-belly pants were giving me a seriously saggy ass since my belly was pushing them down so far. My husband was the one who eventually ended the battle. He noticed that I had developed a habit of holding my pants up with one hand as I walked around – it helped with the comfort factor, but not the saggy ass factor. "Babe" he said. "Seriously? You look like one of those uncomfortable pregnant women who waddle around holding their back." I responded like any uncomfortable pregnant woman waddling around would respond: with a war-like scream and went for his jugular. He calmly packed me screaming into the car and took me to the Gap. I walked straight to the full panels, put them on, bought one on the spot and walked out of the store a new woman. No saggy ass (large, but not saggy) and no slippage. I could hear the Hallelujah chorus as I walked out.
Caution: full panels are HOT. In the too warm way, not in the super sexy way (OMG – as if I actually needed to explain the meaning of the word HOT in this context). And for the majority of my pregnancy, the under-the-belly styles were much more comfortable. It was only those last agonizing weeks that required a full panel. So bottom line, there is really no holy grail for comfortable maternity pants. You just need to decide what is worse: constant slippage or a little extra sweat. And a reminder that the full panel will help to hold in the jelly belly post pregnancy. Now the post preggo jelly belly? THAT'S hot.
If I had to do things over again….here's the full panel pants I would've chosen:
These pants are the Paige Premium Denim Laurel Canyon Maternity Jeans in Blue Topaz, $207 at shopbop.com. These jeans basically have the largest available panel – a full 12.5" rise. Pull that thing right up. Oh baby. You're gonna love it.