Pregnancy is rough on your body. As your stomach grows, the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones need to adjust to make room for your baby to grow. This means your body will change in ways you never knew it could. It is an exciting time, but it can also be tiring and painful, particularly on your back. As your tummy grows, your back works hard to support your baby. By wearing a support belt, you can lessen the amount of pressure on your back.
But what exactly is a pregnancy support belt and what does it do? Read on to find out.
What Is a Pregnancy Support Belt?
A pregnancy support belt can take many different forms, but is basically a wide strip of fabric that wraps around your back and belly to provide gentle support and compression. They are designed specially to fit around your pregnant belly.
Support belts are normally made using a combination of fibers like cotton, Spandex, Elastane, and Lycra. They need to be stretchy so that they stay on your stomach and can “grow” as your belly does.
Some support belts are fastened using an adjustable Velcro band that can be customized based on your size and shape as it changes. Other belts can’t be closed and are a continuous belt made from elasticized fabric. Support belts with wider hems reduce the chances of the belt rolling over on itself.
What Does a Pregnancy Support Belt Do?
They help decrease pain
Joint and back pain are very common during pregnancy, but can be annoying as this pain makes it hard to participate in normal daily activities. Wearing a support belt during your pregnancy helps support your lower back and your growing bump as you go about your day, reducing your overall pain.
Sacroiliac Joint Pain
Pain in the sacroiliac (SI) joint happens frequently throughout pregnancy and is a result of increased relaxin – a hormone that makes your hip joints looser and less stable. The pain is sharp and often excruciating and is felt in your lower back just above your tailbone. A support belt helps stabilize the joint, relieving pain.
Round ligament pain
This is a common symptom associated with the second trimester of pregnancy and can be anything from dull aches to sharp pain in the front of your hips under the stomach. The pain is caused by the pressure and weight on the ligaments that are supporting your growing tummy. Support belts distribute your bump’s weight across your abdomen and back, relieving the pressure and pain on your round ligaments.
They provide mild compression
A growing baby belly needs mild compression to support your uterus. This reduces the amount of discomfort felt when doing physical activities. Too much compression on your baby bump is not good for your circulation, indigestion, heartburn, and can affect your blood pressure.
They give external cues for posture
Belly belts give your body external cues for proper back and torso posture through targeted support. They prevent overextension and poor posture of the lower back. The common “swayback” posture which is so common in pregnancy is due to the weight of your pregnant belly being carried in front of you. A support belt helps hold your core muscles and spine in line.
They let you comfortably do daily activities
Exercising while you are pregnant has many positive health advantages. Studies have shown that prenatal exercise has a beneficial impact on both you and your unborn baby’s health. Exercise increases your endurance and muscle tone, and decreases depression, diabetes, and hypertension.
Many women struggle to exercise when they are pregnant due to discomfort and pain. By wearing a support belt, you can decrease your discomfort levels and participate in normal activities.
They can be worn after birth as support
In the weeks following your baby’s delivery, you will experience a decrease in core muscle strength. The ligaments and muscles that were strained and stretched during your pregnancy need time to heal. This weakness can be challenging when combined with a demanding newborn baby and can result in an injury.
Woman who wear their support belt after having their little one find that the additional support in the lower back and abdominal regions decrease their discomfort. A support belt is also beneficial for women who have abdominal muscle separation – diastasis recti – as the support belt brings the abdominal muscles closer together. This, combined with targeted exercises, can help in closing the separation.
Of course, a support belt is not a permanent fix. The underlying problem still needs to be seen to by a healthcare professional, but a support belt provides you with the reinforcement needed until you are ready to see a doctor.
Things to Remember About Wearing Pregnancy Support Bands
- You should never wear your pregnancy support band for more than three hours at a time. Any longer than this and you will create a dependency.
- Although wearing the support band provides you with ample compression, exercises to strengthen your muscles should also be done during and after your pregnancy.
- Always talk to your doctor before you use a compression belt. If you suffer from abnormal blood pressure or bad circulation, a belly belt may exacerbate the situation further.
- A pregnancy support band is only to be used temporarily and is not a permanent solution to any abdominal issues you may be having. If you have ongoing pain after your pregnancy, seek medical assistance.
In the second and third trimester of your pregnancy, your baby is growing quickly. This means that your center of gravity and your posture is altered. Employing the pregnancy waddle is an option for keeping yourself upright, but it is not a great solution in terms of supporting your core abdominal muscles, lower back, and spine. A pregnancy support belt is a good source of support that allows you to go about your day without feeling the pressure and pain of your growing belly.