There are no two ways about it–postpartum recovery is hard. No matter what kind of delivery you had, the process rocks you to your very foundation. And speaking of foundation, let's get down to business: postpartum underwear.

Do you really need special underwear after childbirth? The short answer is yes.

Related: 14 best nursing bras that are comfortable & stylish

Why do you need postpartum underwear?

Well, you're likely well aware that you're going to bleed for sometime postpartum. Postpartum bleeding, also called lochia, happens whether you have a vaginal or Cesarean birth. This bleeding may last up to six weeks after labor and delivery. Just after birth most mamas slide on their first pair of mesh undies, slide in a pad the size of a mattress and give up on the thought of ever wearing anything cute or lacy ever again. (You will! Don't worry!)

Bleeding aside, nothing feels quite right for a while. Your uterus is still shrinking and you're likely still carrying more weight than you were pre-baby. If you're rocking a c-section incision, that takes caring for as well. With that in mind, postpartum underwear can help bridge the gap between recovery and your new normal.

Types of postpartum underwear

There are several types of postpartum underwear, designed to help support a variety of new-mama needs. Some offer compression to help support and shrink your belly in the weeks and months after delivery. Others feature absorbent, leak-proof gussets like period underwear and are ideal for both postpartum bleeding and (let's be real) pee accidents. And some are just plain comfy. There's no shame in sizing up and giving into the granny panty, allowing yourself to bask in the full coverage, cotton classics while everything shifts back to where it belongs.

We've rounded up the best postpartum underwear to help you get through the fourth trimester comfortably, confidently and cared for. Shop our favorites below!

Bodily All In Panty

Best Maternity to Postpartum Underwear

$16

Bodily The All-In Panty

Between the ultra-stretchy modal fabric and extra wide waistband, the All-In Panty from Bodily is a great option to take you from bump to baby. The rise is nice and high which offers just the right amount of support along with protection for c-section scars. They also come in six different colors in case you’re totally bored of the standard black and tan options out there.

Sizing: S-3X

belabumbum low rise underwear

Best Versatile Postpartum Underwear:

$36

Belabumbum Mama Soothing Brief

Belabumbum teamed up with the period panty experts at Joyja to create the panties you’ll want to live in through pregnancy and postpartum. Made from the most buttery-soft material, the v-shaped waistband sits comfortably below your belly whether it’s growing or shrinking while the internal gusset can hold up to seven teaspoons of fluid.

Sizing: XS-4X

Proof Leakproof Hipster

Most Absorbent Postpartum Underwear:

$43

Proof Leakproof Hipster

With the ability to hold up to ten (!) teaspoons of fluid, Proof’s Leakproof Hipster is designed to help get you through those challenging first postpartum days. Their patented multi-layer leak-loc system keeps you dry and comfortable even when it feels like every part of your body is leaking something .

Sizing: XS-XL

Frida Mom Disposable Postpartum Underwear

Best Disposable Postpartum Underwear:

$13.05

FridaMom Disposable Postpartum Underwear

Sure, you could raid the hospital closet for some of those super hot mesh undies (which we totally condone BTW), but if you want a little bit of luxury (well, as luxurious as paper panties can get), we recommend the disposable postpartum undies from FridaMom. The boyshort cut easily accommodates mattress-sized pads and cold packs and they’re all around softer and more breathable than the hospital freebies. If you really want to cover all your bases, consider the full postpartum kit which includes undies, ice packs, cooling liners and perineal healing foam. Price is for 8 pairs.

UUmiss underwear

Best Cotton Postpartum Underwear:

$23.79

UMMiss Cotton High Waist Underwear

The last thing any new mom has time for is uncomfortable undies. Our best advice is to stock up on some trusty cotton briefs that are soft and breathable, like this top-rated option from Amazon. Loved by tons of postpartum mamas, including those who’ve had both c-section and vaginal deliveries, they feature a double-layer waistband that keeps tummies comfy and tucked in without added compression. Price is for five pairs.

Sizing: S-5XL

Upspring Baby C-Panty

Best C-Section Underwear:

$39.99

Upspring Baby C-Panty

C-section recovery requires a little extra TLC and UpSpring knows it. Their C-Panty includes a winning combination of medical-grade compression to keep everything safe and tucked in as well as their patented built-in silicone panel to help protect your incision and heal your scar.

Sizing : S-L

leonisa compression postpartum underwear

Best Adjustable Postpartum Underwear:

$45

Leonisa Firm Compression Postpartum Panty with Adjustable Belly Wrap

For the days you need a little extra support, Leonisa has you covered. The high-waisted undies offer triple-layer compression with an adjustable built-in panel that is easy to reposition as necessary. They’re fantastic for postpartum swelling and won’t roll down no matter what you do.

Sizing: S-XL

Ondr underwear

Best Postpartum Underwear for Incontinence:

$36

Ondr Leakproof High Waisted Brief

The doctor-designed ONDR panties feature a plant-based liner inside sleek and slinky undies that protect against all kinds of leaks and dribbles. Founded by urologist and mama of four, Dr. Jessica Lubahn, ONDR was created to help people dealing with incontinence but can manage period issues as well. The luxe liner does a stellar job of catching and wicking moisture and although its a little puffier than your standard period panties, it doesn’t feel bulky at all. (Note that it’s grey and not black like you may expect.) The outside material is smooth and comfy with a waistband that doesn’t dig or roll.

Sizing: XS-2XL and they run small, so size up!

Hatch Seamless Belly Brief

Best Full Coverage Postpartum Underwear:

$38

Hatch Seamless Belly Brief

With light sculpting compression and a luxe fabric that offers the thoughtfulness we’ve come to expect from Hatch, the Seamless Belly Brief is one you’ll reach for long after the fourth trimester. They’re not your grannie’s panties (but we venture to guess hers weren’t even this comfy.)

Sizing: XS-XL

Whether you're expecting in months or mere days, let Motherly guide you with our registry featuring curated collections of essentials for you and baby. Click here to check out Motherly's essential registry guide. 

A version of this story was published August 12, 2021. It has been updated.