5 Benefits Of Wearing A Belly Band During Pregnancy

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Medically reviewed by Gopal Ramakrishnan, Ph. D (Biochemistry)

Benefits Of Wearing A Belly Band During Pregnancy-1

Anything that makes pregnancy easier is going to get a lot of interest, both from pregnant women and the people in their lives. Pregnancy is not comfortable at the best of times, but it can also lead to long term issues that continue after you’ve given birth.

A pregnancy belly band, also called a belly belt or maternity support belt, can reduce the pain of carrying your new baby during pregnancy. Belly bands can also help moms during postpartum recovery.

How Belly Bands And Belts Help Relieve Pregnancy’s Pain

Maternity support belts are wide bands that go around the back and under a pregnant woman’s growing belly. If you’re wondering how to wear a pregnancy belt, the belly belts form a sort of hammock under a pregnant belly, allowing your back to take more of the strain more comfortably. The benefits of using a belly band include:

  1. Reduction in pain
  2. Easier movement
  3. Facilitates physical activity
  4. Helps strengthen core muscles
  5. Abdominal Muscle Strength

They may be made of an elastic cloth or can be more sturdy to offer more support. Most belly bands use a velcro closure, but there are other options as well. 

Many women find that, as their pregnancy progresses, the clothes they had begin to get a little tight, while they aren’t quite ready for new maternity clothes. A belly band, while also acting as a support band, is used by some pregnant women to hide clothes that are a little tight or not completely fastened. 

Many pregnant women find that gentle compression helps with common pregnancy complaints, including treating carpal tunnel syndrome in pregnancy.

The main use is as a support band, however, as well as providing some gentle compression. Due to that compression, however, belly bands should only be used for a couple hours at a time.

5 Benefits Of Wearing A Belly Band During Pregnancy

Reduces Pain

There are lots of different types of pain and discomfort associated with pregnancy. Some types of pain simply make life hard, while others may linger and cause problems long after you’ve given birth.

A growing baby bump will put increasing amounts of pressure on your lower back, causing some significant back pain. The changes a woman’s body undergoes also can cause pain, as ligaments and tissues are stretched in new ways. Some common types of pain can include:

  • Pelvic girdle pain
  • Back pain
  • Round ligament pain

Pelvic girdle pain is a catch all for all pelvic pain, originating in the pelvis and hips. Round ligament pain[1] refers to pain that results from stretching the two ligaments[2] that connect the uterus to the front of the pelvis[3]

A belly band will relieve pain[4] by changing the distribution of weight and giving some extra support. 

Eases Movement

Despite the hunched over, keyboard-friendly posture most people end up with these days, proper posture has your spine and head erect and muscles relaxed. At that point, your center of balance is between your feet. Less strain is put on your back and abdominal muscles.

When a baby begins to develop, your center of balance is pulled forward by your pregnancy belly. It’s no longer easily between your feet. Balancing gets more difficult. You’re also putting a lot of strain on your lower back and spine.

Pregnancy belts can help by supporting the baby bump, distributing the weight and relieving pressure on the lower back. That can also help to make balancing a little easier.

Even simple motions like standing up or sitting down can be an adventure for pregnant women. By making it easier to stay balanced, these basic motions also become easier.

Facilitates Activity

Exercise may be the last thing a pregnant woman wants to do. However, there’s really no question that exercising, or at least some degree of activity, is very important to the mom’s health. It also can affect the baby’s health, even after they are born and develop.

There are a number of low impact, low intensity options for exercising. Yoga for pregnant women is one great example, but even a simple walk is enough. Whatever sort of activity you can manage, a belly band can make moving easier. Physical activities may be the last thing on a pregnant woman’s mind, but it is an important part of staying healthy.

It might help to think of a belly band as similar to a sports’ bra, in that it can provide support. A belly band can also help keep your belly from moving and adding strain. As a result, everyday activities can be much easier.

Improves Endurance

A belly belt can improve endurance in a few different ways. 

  • Relieving pain, allowing pregnant women to stay mobile for longer
  • Makes moving and balancing easier
  • Additional support allows a faster recovery

Most discussion of pregnancy belts centers on their use as the baby grows. Sometimes, they continue to be worn after the baby is born[5], however.

A pregnant woman’s body goes through many changes during pregnancy, but also afterwards as many of those changes are undone. In particular, core muscles tend to be stretched and weak[6]. That can lead to lower back pain and other problems.

Abdominal Muscle Strength

Your core muscles include external oblique, internal oblique, and transverse abdominis. When most people think of core muscles, they think of a six pack of abs. Those muscles are actually called the rectus abdominis muscles. 

A pregnant woman’s belly has to grow fairly large to accommodate a developing baby. In the process, the rectus abdominis muscles are stretched. Sometimes these muscles are stretched so far they separate, a condition called diastasis recti abdominis[7]

Even when that doesn’t happen, those muscles are usually substantially weakened after pregnancy. That can lead to lower back pain and difficulty returning to pre-baby weight. 

Belly bands have been found to make a significant difference in retaining and building core muscle strength. New moms were generally found to be stronger, have trimmer waists, and lose weight faster when using belly bands.

Disadvantages of Using a Pregnancy Belt

A pregnancy belt has generally been found to be very helpful both during and after pregnancy. However, there are a number of reasons to use a pregnancy belt in moderation. Disadvantages of a support band may include:

  • Not as effective for postpartum recovery as exercise
  • Unknown long term side effects
  • Skin irritation
  • Change in fetal heart rate

One concern is that there are no real long term studies the effects of a pregnancy support belt will have on a child. When used properly, the belt should only provide support and a little compression. Wearing a support band has also been associated with a change in fetal heart rate. 

The same may be true of any other maternity support garment. While doctors don’t seem too worried about it, being cautious might be good.

Support bands weren’t as effective as aiding postpartum recovery as simple exercise. While mothers who used pregnancy belts did display a significant increase in ab strength, moms who didn’t use the belt were even stronger[8].

Weaker muscles can lead to lower back pain, heartburn, drops in blood pressure, and other issues. However, that might just indicate that pregnancy belts and exercise might go best together.

One complaint common to women using support bands is skin irritation. The material of the band may not always be very breathable. A pregnant woman might use the band frequently, particularly when moving or exercising, and therefore building up a sweat.

Skin rashes and irritation follow. The answer is to take the support belt off and allow your skin to breathe. 

Alternatives to a Pregnancy Belt

Pregnancy belts are generally considered safe to use. However, if you’re interested in other options to try[9], there are a lot of ways to reduce an expectant mom’s pain and stress. They include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Water gymnastics
  • General activity
  • Yoga

Most of those are some variety of exercise, which is probably not a coincidence. Being more fit and strong helps in almost every situation. It also can help pregnant women reach and maintain a healthy body weight, which is another big indicator for general health.

Acupuncture was found to be very effective in a number of studies, as well. It helped to reduce pain and make activity easier. Additionally, it appears to have no adverse effects. 

Any one of these strategies can be effective on their own, but combining them in a way that works for you may be the best way to go.

New mothers can generally use all the support they can get. Belly bands offer a more literal form of support, helping to manage the growing awkwardness of a baby belly. There are a whole range of options, from stretchy bands to stiffer bands that provide more support. 

This is one health product that seems to deliver on its promises. Not only is it effective at relieving pain, it also can help pregnant women improve their overall health. 

+ 9 sources

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  2. ‌Mayo Clinic. (2020). What causes round ligament pain during pregnancy? [online] Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/expert-answers/round-ligament-pain/faq-20380879 [Accessed 31 May 2021].
  3. ‌Chaudhry, S.R. and Khalid Chaudhry (2020). Anatomy, Abdomen and Pelvis, Uterus Round Ligament. [online] Nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499970/ [Accessed 31 May 2021].
  4. ‌Ho, S.S., Yu, W.W., Lao, T.T., Chow, D.H., Chung, J.W. and Li, Y. (2009). Effectiveness of maternity support belts in reducing low back pain during pregnancy: a review. Journal of Clinical Nursing, [online] 18(11), pp.1523–1532. Available at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2702.2008.02749.x [Accessed 31 May 2021].
  5. ‌Szkwara, J.M., Milne, N., Hing, W. and Pope, R. (2019). Effectiveness, Feasibility, and Acceptability of Dynamic Elastomeric Fabric Orthoses (DEFO) for Managing Pain, Functional Capacity, and Quality of Life during Prenatal and Postnatal Care: A Systematic Review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, [online] 16(13), p.2408. Available at: https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/16/13/2408/htm [Accessed 31 May 2021].
  6. ‌https://d1wqtxts1xzle7.cloudfront.net/46393785/188115179-journal-breast-care-with-cover-page.pdf?Expires=1621618719&Signature=SiAo7GtfXufxNqhQL3WJQL6UMduy7ac1ODXpUVnbVmzc7BRMLnFh0CqPocWrLEUtBde7ki7nWufhkvuJ0~wxBpshG0zr6ya4SUGMMPX3QWulkK7pQqJiAgKNojq6Ist3NJgQaPuA9DUHzIUuPNfBJ3dWgZ-tAXPpzdKtT~XT5x88DVJL0FdvHYS8DRSIzFkKkZRpB0iaHXiz-B60s8aUjpAyZTXCJFFf5qNEg2SDlSeb24~B3HhI1v~fhMLGh8uNStzdPmHddZsgd9hfykHQWslHAwmE63OUwja5s0E7Gnxdhz~Rquqenis2MVDddMoqGAcj6TpfgLOEcoPXUT3fPA__&Key-Pair-Id=APKAJLOHF5GGSLRBV4ZA
  7. Sperstad, J.B., Tennfjord, M.K., Hilde, G., Ellström-Engh, M. and Bø, K. (2016). Diastasis recti abdominis during pregnancy and 12 months after childbirth: prevalence, risk factors and report of lumbopelvic pain. British Journal of Sports Medicine, [online] 50(17), pp.1092–1096. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5013086/ [Accessed 31 May 2021].
  8. ‌Thabet, A.A. and Alshehri, M.A. (2019). Efficacy of deep core stability exercise program in postpartum women with diastasis recti abdominis: a randomised controlled trial. Journal of musculoskeletal & neuronal interactions, [online] 19(1), pp.62–68. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6454249/ [Accessed 31 May 2021].
  9. Gutke, A., Betten, C., Degerskär, K., Pousette, S. and Fagevik Olsén, M. (2015). Treatments for pregnancy-related lumbopelvic pain: a systematic review of physiotherapy modalities. Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, [online] 94(11), pp.1156–1167. Available at: https://obgyn.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/aogs.12681 [Accessed 31 May 2021].

Medically reviewed by:

Sean Newton has nearly ten years of experience as a health and fitness writer, focusing on diet and its effects on your health. He also is an avid athlete and martial artist, specializing in bodyweight exercises and movement training. Together with an evidence-based approach to good health, his goal is to lay out the facts for readers, so they can make informed choices.

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