Are Belly Bands, Maternity Belts and Pregnancy Support Belts good to wear during pregnancy?
As your pregnancy moves into the second and third trimester you might be asking if you need to wear a belly band or maternity support belt.
As your bump grows and there’s extra pressure on your back, hips and pelvis you may be searching for a solution to these aches and pains — 20% of women experience pelvic girdle pain (PGP) and more than 65% of women experience lower back pain (LBP) during pregnancy according to research.
Pain can range from mild to severe. It is difficult to enjoy your pregnancy when you are unable to go about your daily activities or are unable to stay active through exercise without experiencing discomfort and pain.
There are many aids on the market that claim to help with common pregnancy conditions. While medical evidence is limited there are pros and cons of belly belts and bands.
Many women find relief from additional support and stabilising the back and pelvis. Pregnancy compression garments are another alternative you may wish to consider.
As this is generalised information we always recommend talking to your obstetrician or women’s health physiotherapist for personalised advice.
What is a maternity belly band used for?
Many pregnant women find that stabilising the pelvis and relieving pressure from the lower back can help ease pain and symptoms associated with:— Diastasis recti
— Back pain
— Pelvic pain
— Symphysis pubis dysfunction
— Bad posture
— Sacroiliac Joint Pain (SJP or SI Joint Pain)
So, do belly bands really work and should you wear one?
While the terms belly band and belly belt are often used interchangeably they are actually two different types of maternity support bands which have different functions and purposes.
1. Belly Band
The belly band is generally a soft, tube-like garment that can extend the wear of your regular clothes by covering unzipped jeans or pants and by adding a layer of modesty if you don’t want to show skin as your belly grows.
They are often made from a bamboo or cotton blend with spandex/lycra for stretch. Belly bands are a soft feel and not compressive, so they don’t have the support needed to alleviate back and pelvic pain.
They are useful if you don’t want to spend a lot of money on clothing to only wear when pregnant. However layering jeans or pants with your belly belt, then a top can feel bulky. Depending on your personal style
2. Pregnancy Support Belt or Belly Belt
The pregnancy belt (or belly belt) is generally a rigid, belt-like contraption that wraps around under your belly and is designed to lift the abdomen and support the weight of your belly to improve posture and relieve pressure off the pelvis, lower back and bladder.
They provide more support than a belly band and can be helpful in reducing pressure on sore back, pelvis and hips, although some women may find them too constrictive.
Belly belts are usually worn over clothing as they are too thick and bulky to wear under anything except very loose, flowy outfits when pregnant. However they are often beige or grey, and ugly and unattractive. So the added support is at the expense of your outfit, and it’s unlikely you will be comfortable wearing it out in public or to work.
When to buy a belly band
Many women start wearing a belly band in the first or second trimester of pregnancy as their mid-section starts to grow and thicken making their pants more comfortable buy wearing them undone and covered by the band.
According to parenting site What To Expect sharp, shooting round ligament pain can start as early as 14 weeks pregnant and is when mums-to-be may look for additional support from a belly belt to ease pressure on your back and pelvis.
It is very important to note that you should not wear a belly belt or support belt for more than two to three hours at a time to prevent overdependence. Feeling pain is a symptom of an underlying condition.
Extended wear can reduce the need for your muscles to engage which can cause increased weakness overtime. It is important to allow your muscles and ligaments to strengthen as your pregnancy progresses to support your baby and the additional weight and pressure.
If purchasing a belly band you should consider:
— how easy is it to wash?
— what clothes do I own that can be worn under this?
— am I comfortable wearing this over my clothes?
— your size and body shape (most brands have limited size ranges)
— how long will you use the product for
Compression pregnancy support garments
A great alternative to a conventional belly band or belly belt is a compression support garment designed specifically for pregnancy.
Compression stockings for pregnancy
Maternity compression stockings can help with swelling and varicose veins and women with swollen feet may appreciate the additional coverage. However stockings don’t provide the same back and pelvis support as a compression tight or pregnancy belt. Plus you will have to find clothing that is appropriate to wear over pregnancy stockings that may get hot, especially in summer.
Pregnancy compression tights
Maternity tights with a compression fit to help reduce swelling and soreness are a popular choice for pregnancy from the end of the first trimester. If you find your correct size the shape retention fabric grows with you so they can be worn through to full term. They are also suitable to be worn as postpartum tights post birth while you recover.
Unlike pregnancy belts, pregnancy tights can be worn for extended periods, with some women even sleeping in them.
If you choose leggings that are squat-proof you will be able to wear them like you would your regular activewear tights, whether you’re exercising during pregnancy or wearing them as athleisure. Or choose a bike short length that can provide support and smoothing underneath dresses and skirts.
Staying active through every trimester can actually help to ease back and pelvic pain, as well as improving or maintaining your fitness to help you prepare your body for labour and childbirth and recover better. Active Truth has a selection of pregnancy support garments including tights with pockets, and maternity tights in full length, ⅞ length, ¾ length and maternity bike shorts. These tights provide the support you need to alleviate pain associated with pregnancy, while transitioning easy into your wardrobe. We’ve been voted #1 Pregnancy Compression Tight by Body + Soul magazine and our website contains thousands of reviews from verified buyers who wear their Active Truth pregnancy tights every day!
“I am extremely impressed with the support and comfort that my Active Truth leggings provide. I love the way the leggings hug to my body providing support to my legs and baby belly without being over restrictive. I wear active truth leggings everyday. The leggings stay in place all day long no matter what the activity may entail: workouts, running around with the kids, at work and for just everyday activities. The belly band in the maternity pants offers a snug fit without too much pressure and is accommodating my growing bump. These pants have fit from early pregnancy and are progressing well along my journey.” — Kylie R. on our Mama Full Length Pregnancy Tight - Black
“Having been a Physiotherapist for over 15 years, I have looked after plenty of women with lower back and pelvic pain or dysfunction during and after pregnancy. I highly recommend the Active Truth maternity range to my patients, not only for comfort, but for support during pregnancy and for muscle recovery after childbirth. Supporting the core muscles postpartum (particularly for women with abdominal separation or after caesarean section) is vital and the Active Truth maternity range does this.” — Shannan Ballin @thefeelgoodphysio_
Compression garments are also recommended for new mums following childbirth to increase circulation to aid healing, reduce swelling and reduce post-pregnancy related aches and pains.
When shopping for pregnancy support garments we always recommend picking your pre-pregnancy size — we've designed our tights with extra room for your bump and this will ensure a great fit around the legs and bottom.
To learn more check out our full range of pregnancy clothes, including postpartum support tights.