Maternity belts (or maternity support garments) are worn by pregnant women to make their pregnancies more comfortable. These pregnancy supports can also reduce pain and discomfort due to conditions like hip separation, hip instability, lordosis and lymphedema.
There are several types of maternity bands and belts available on the market today. A pregnant woman can choose from:
Prenatal or maternity cradles;
Maternity supports; and
Postpartum belly wraps and girdles.
Pregnancy forces the body to make some amazing changes in order to allow the baby to grow within the mother’s body.
For example, the body will generate hormones to increase joint and connective laxity in order to facilitate delivery. These changes can sometimes lead to pre and post partum conditions like hip separation, hip instability, lordosis, lympedema and more.
As a result, using a maternity belt product may be a great aid to relieving pain. In some cases, a maternity belt may even help to correct the underlying condition causing pain
In this article, we will first briefly describe the different categories of maternity belt available on the market today. We will then provide some pointers to bear in mind if you are shopping for a belt product to use.
Types Of Maternity Belt
These are stretchy and tube-like garments worn around the belly. Their function is to extend the usefulness of prep pregnancy clothing. They help to conceal the unbuttoned or unzipped state of pants that cannot be properly secured due to the pregnancy.
Belly bands also help to cover skin that would otherwise be exposed due to the larger belly size. A few offer gentle compression but this is not their primary purpose.
This has traditionally been one of the more popular categories of maternity belt, and continues to be so even today. They are available in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, colours and designs. A design feature that many of them have is an elastic or rubber trim to prevent bunching up while in use. This helps prevent the belly band becoming unsightly.
Another name for this type of product is a belly sleeve, or a maternity/pregnancy band.
Advantages & Disadvantages
Belly bands offer little or no support to the abdomen or other areas. However, they are inexpensive and can help to save money that would have to be spent on a new maternity wardrobe.
These garments are also worn around the abdomen. However, unlike the stretchy construction of belly bands, belly belts have a more rigid construction.
As a result of this rigidity, belly belts can provide some much needed abdominal muscle support during pregnancy. They can also provide support to the lower back, hips, pelvis and abdomen. They relieve strain that may otherwise be borne by these areas. By doing so, they help to prevent possible pain and discomfort later on in the pregnancy.
You can wear belly belts either above or below clothing. However, most people prefer to wear them on top of other clothing.
Appearance wise, these garments are narrower than belly bands and are more like straps. They are sometimes alternatively referred to as pregnancy belts, braces or straps.
Advantages & Disadvantages
Belly belts may improve posture and reduce lower back pain. They also help to stabilize the pelvis and reduce the risk of falls. Finally, they can make it easier for pregnant women to continue exercising even into the later stages of pregnancy.
This is a bit of a “miscellaneous” category. Most of the products in it are briefs and leggings. They usually comprise an underbelly supportive belt and a non binding waistband. The latter provides a stretchy space to accommodate the growing “baby bump” of pregnancy.
The stated purpose of the briefs and leggings in this category is to provide support to the lower body. This includes the legs, buttocks and hips.
Together with maternity briefs and leggings, you can also buy maternity tops. These comprise a supportive bra and together with a belly band to absorb pelvic weight. Analogously to briefs and leggings, these products are designed to provide upper body support during pregnancy.
Postpartum Belly Wraps/Girdles
The products in this category mainly contain several layers of wrapping. The layers alternative between rigid and stretchy, i.e. they are rigid in one layer and then stretchy in the next. The wrapping extends from under the breasts to the hips. These products are sometimes also referred to as belly bands.
The manufacturers of this category of maternity belts claim that their products reduce the pain of pregnancy by:
Providing lower back support, and therefore mitigating lower back pain during pregnancy;
Accelerating postpartum recovery, particularly in the aftermath of a ceasarean delivery; and
Boosting blood circulation.
SI Joint Belts
SI joint belts provide support to damaged sacroiliac si joint ligaments. This condition can be the cause of significant pelvic pain during a difficult pregnancy. You can read more about this category of maternity belt here.
Choosing A Maternity Belt Product.
Some of the key points to remember as you sift through the large collection of belts on the market include:
Does it provide a discrete fit? A maternity support belt that you can wear discreetly under everyday clothing will assist patient compliance. As a result, it will be more effective at reducing pain and/or the severity of the condition.
Is its material breathable? All else being equal, you want a maternity belt that you can wear throughout the day. You should not be distracted by discomfort due to excessive warmth and/or perspiration. This will improve patient compliance, with the benefits already noted above.
When should a maternity support belt start to be worn? Ideally, we believe you should follow medical advice from your doctor on this question. However, our view is that you can start wearing one as soon as you feel the aches and pains of pregnancy.
Can I wear the belt at night while sleeping? We would suggest that if you feel it helps relieve your pain at night, you can wear it.