A maternity belt can provide much needed pregnancy support to the hips and sacroiliac joints during and after childbearing. It can also reduce much of the pain of childbearing.
Many women (approximately 50%) report feeling pain in the lower back during pregnancy. 20% are estimated to experience pelvic girdle pain. A maternity belt can provide the extra support they need to make it through childbearing while keeping the pain away. A well chosen belt can make all the difference between a difficult pregnancy and a comfortable one.
You can start wearing and benefiting from a maternity belt from your first trimester – as soon as you start feeling the aches and pains that are part of pregnancy and childbearing.
Some patients who are about to start wearing a maternity belt wonder whether it can hurt the baby. The belts are usually designed to be safe to wear and not hurt the baby.
However, it may not be wise to wear the belt for too long as some belts may interfere with the flow of blood to your abdomen. In some cases, this may also cause pain and heartburn. We would suggest that you consult with your doctor and get his/her feedback on whether the belt you are considering can cause harm to your baby.
Types Of Maternity Belt
The term maternity belt is really an umbrella expression that covers 6 types of bands and belts designed for use by a pregnant woman.
SI Joint Belt
This is a belt that goes around the hips and helps keep the sacroiliac joint aligned. It heals to relieve the pain of those suffering from loose si joints, which are sometimes caused by childbearing.
Unlike many of the other garments we consider below, si joint belts are purely therapeutic in purpose. They do not confer any cosmetic benefits on the wearer.
These are flexible garments that resemble tubes and are worn around the belly. They are sometimes also called belly sleeves or maternity/pregnancy bands.
Their role is to enable pregnant women to continue wearing pre-pregnancy clothing . They do this by concealing the unbuttoned or unzipped state of the pans the woman is wearing.
In addition to covering buttons and zippers, belly bands conceal portions of skin that would otherwise be exposed as the belly grows.
Some belly bands offer gentle compression and support to the hips and lower back. However, these are a small minority of the belly bands offered for purchase.
Belly bands have, and continue to be, among the most popular maternity belt garments available. They are sold in a multitude of sizes, shapes, colors and designs to meet almost any conceivable taste. Some are also equipped with an elastic or rubber trim to prevent bunching up and enhance wearing comfort.
Pros & Cons
Although some manufacturers market these bands as support bands, there is little to no evidence to support this claim.
However, they do offer the following advantages:
They can help an expectant mother to reduce expenditure on pregnancy clothing;
They are flexible in that they can be used both during pregnancy as well as the post partum period.
Belly bands have a rigid construction. These support belts are wrapped around the lower abdomen to support a pregnant woman’s back, pelvis, hips and abdomen. These are support belts that help to reduce pelvic pain that may be experienced by a pregnant woman.
Most (but not all) pregnant women wear belly belts on top of their clothing.They are narrower than belly bands and are more like straps.
Some people refer to belly belts as maternity / pregnancy belts, braces or straps. Another name for them is “maternity support belts”.
There is also a growing body of evidence to support the claim that these belts may reduce pelvic pain during pregnancy. Studies have been published in 2015 and 2017 to support these claims.
We should also report that concerns have been raised about the possible adverse impact of wearing the belts for prolonged periods. This could reduce blood flow to the abdomen and to the growing baby.
Prenatal / Maternity Cradles
This category of maternity belt are a combination of:
a belly belt worn around the lower body;
An upper strap that goes over the top of the belly.
This combination forms a “cradle” for the growing belly.
Pre-Natal or maternity cradles are available for purchase as a single item. Some manufacturers however offer the upper strap separately (as an add-on to the belly belt). Others offer the upper strap as part of a combination pack with the belly belt.
This is a category that includes garments with broader body coverage than the bands and belts listed above.
First, it includes maternity briefs and leggings with a belt supporting the underbelly and a non binding waistband. The latter provides the garment with a stretchy space to accommodate the growing baby bump. These garments are marketed as offering support for the lower body, including hips, buttocks and legs.
Second, this category includes maternity tops with:
Sports bras designed to provide upper body support, and
Belly bands to support the pelvic floor.
These tops are marketed as providing general upper body support.
Postpartum Belly Wraps & Girdles
These garments include several layers of wraps that alternate between stretchy and rigid. The wraps extend from just under the breasts to hip level. Another name for these garments is belly bands.
These garments are marketed as being supportive of the lower back. The manufacturers also claim that they can be used to accelerate postpartum recovery, particularly in the wake of a cesarean delivery.
Finally, some manufacturers also claim that these products offer blood circulation benefits. However, we must note that, to date, there is limited independent evidence to support these claims. As a result, we would caution you to seek medical advice before investing in these products.