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Despite the proven mental and physical benefits of exercise, pregnant women still face barriers, from social stigma to ill-fitting sportswear. To offer expectant and post-partum mothers a comfier, more supportive, way of keeping fit, Nike is launching a maternity collection. We explore the insights behind this and how it's helping break down the social stigma associated with being active during pregnancy.

In September 2020, Nike is debuting its maternity collection, Nike (M). The brand reviewed over 150,000 body scans from women globally to understand how the body changes during and after pregnancy. Designed with both expectant and post-partum mothers in mind, it features four items: a tank top, leggings, a sports bra offering easy access for nursing, and a pullover designed to fit women at all stages of pregnancy.

Ill-fitting sportswear can hold expectant mothers back from staying active in pregnancy
Nike (2020) ©

“Pregnancy is not just a nine-month time period we're talking about. For many women, if they have two to three children, which is an average, this can be a 7 to 10 year journey of pre-, pregnant and postpartum needs,” says Carmen Zolman, Nike’s senior design director of apparel innovation. "Nike wants to be there for all stages of a woman's sport life, including pregnancy and motherhood," Zolman said. "It's not always about shattering world records and winning tournaments. Sometimes it's about getting more people to the starting line.”

Guidelines for fitness during pregnancy are often confusing and contradictory, meaning many expectant mothers choose to forgo it – even though they may want to stay active. Aside from the social stigma associated with being active during pregnancy, another barrier to fitness is a lack of supportive sportswear: 63% of women say that their bump feels unsupported while exercising, while almost one-third (31%) say they’re put off by ill-fitting sportswear. Nike’s line, which is crafted with expectant and new mothers front-of-mind, could be a real game-changer – a timely one, too, considering that 53% of British mums-to-be report being less active since the COVID-19 lockdown.

Hannah Elderfield
is associate insight director at Canvas8. She oversees the Science Of series and has worked with global clients including Facebook, Nike, BelVita, Wagamama, the UK Government, the FCO, and Superbrands. Outside of work, she enjoys watching trashy TV shows, bunkering up at home, and adding half-read books to her bookshelf.

Canvas8

14 Sep 20
2 min read

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