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The "Power Mama" by Spanx claims to "comfortably" shape the rear and thighs.
TODAY contributor
updated 1/7/2011 10:03:57 AM ET 2011-01-07T15:03:57

You’ve heard about celebrities rocking them on the red carpet — Gwyneth Paltrow even copped to wearing two pairs after she had her babies. Brides wear them to look their most willowy on their wedding day, voluptuous women use them to curb their curves and even men wear them to mute their muffin tops. But did you ever imagine they would be a tool for pregnant women to boost their bellies?

It’s true. Spanx by Sara Blakely has launched a series of supportive, sucking-in tights, panties and leggings geared to the maternity market.

Mama Spanx maternity footless pantyhose and full-length pantyhose were introduced in the spring of 2004. They were touted as providing “under-tummy and lower-back support for expectant moms while eliminating VPL and providing shaping support for the butt and thighs.” The tummy panel grew with the belly.

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The company launched a maternity version of its Power Panties called Power Mama in spring 2007 and recently launched a lower-priced collection called Assets Marvelous Mama at Target that includes maternity shapers, opaque tights and leggings.

While support garments for pregnant women are nothing new — the Destination Maternity website has a whopping 30 varieties of support panties, belts, camis and shapers — discussing the Spanx options seems to bring up a more heated response.

In a recent post about the Spanx products to the supposedly anti-snarky women’s site Jezebel.com, writer Tracie Egan Morrissey joked “you’re not allowed to have a gut that big, even if there is a fetus in it.” Many took umbrage.

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Commenter Niki S. wrote: “I'm going to take a guess that the person writing this piece hasn't ever had kids. Because any woman who has been heavily pregnant will know that those things look really useful for the final couple of months. I wore something similar when I was pregnant with twins, but they weren't nearly as nice as the Spanx ones shown here.”

SissyLaRue commented: “They're to suck in your a-- and thighs, not your gut. And believe me, looking hot in a dress when you're preggo can do a lot for a girl's self-esteem. Empowerment means the choice to have a smooth butt even if there is a bun in the oven.”

ThatGirlJJ chimed in: “I'm not going to knock anything that anyone finds helpful and comfortable near the end of their pregnancy. I was soooooo in love with my (hideous) elastic support belt. Third trimester is CRAZY and I don't think anyone is wearing that to look slim... sometimes a little support is a good thing.”

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TODAYshow.com editor Susan Houriet, who is 26 weeks pregnant with her first child, tried the Power Mama Spanx Maternity Mid-Thigh Shapers under her maternity jeans to great success.

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“I have to say I was a skeptic — I do own some regular Spanx but nine times out of 10 would rather look a little jiggly than endure feeling like I was a stuffed sausage,” she said. “I am pleasantly surprised — they feel pretty good. They gently squeeze in my increasingly ample butt and legs while feeling totally comfy around the baby, where the panel is soft and not tight. And for some reason, I feel taller.” She added, “I’m not planning on taking them off until I get into my pj’s tonight.”

Spanx’s Blakely said the overall response to the product has been remarkable. “We get tons of e-mails from pregnant women thanking us for the under-belly and low-back support provided in our maternity line,” she told TODAYshow.com. “I didn’t quite understand until I was pregnant myself, and wore Power Mama maternity shaper shorts almost every day from months five to nine. There is absolutely no compression in the tummy area, and the waistband is super soft. The fact they make your butt and thighs look less jiggly and more toned is a side benefit.” 

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Video: The woman behind Spanx


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