During pregnancy, the more the belly grows the more the discomfort gets.
Studies show that 50-90% of pregnant women experience Lower Back Pain or Severe pelvic pain. These pains can make it quite a struggle to get anything done and that’s where pregnancy belts, maternity belts, or belly belts come into play.
Pregnancy support belts help lift and carry the extra weight, providing relief and support to your back and legs.
But since pregnancy is a delicate matter, proper research has to be done before you use anything during this period.
In this article, we learn what belly belts are, their benefits, how and when to use, and the risks if any.
What is a pregnancy/belly belt?
Pregnancy or Maternity belts are garments worn around the lower abdomen that help support the back and lower abdomen during pregnancy. A pregnancy support belt helps lift the weight of the baby off the pelvic, relieving the round ligament pains that are often experienced when you shift position or start walking during pregnancy. They are really beneficial for active mamas-to-be.
What is the difference between belly belts and belly bands?
Most people use belly belts and belly bands interchangeably. However, the two serve quite different purposes. While the belly belt is used to support the back and lower abdomen during pregnancy. The belly band is a tube-like elastic garment worn at the lower abdomen/hip region to cover the extra skin that shows when a pregnant woman wears normal clothes.
A belly band helps pregnant women wear unzipped pants and tops that don’t quite cover the full belly, to keep their bare belly from showing.
As such the belly band serves a more as a fashion function while the belly belt serves as a support instrument.
What are the benefits of wearing a pregnancy support belt?
71% of women complain about Low Back pain (LBP) and another 45% complain about Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) during pregnancy.
These pains are quite frustrating and make it difficult to get anything done during pregnancy.
A recent study concluded that the use of pregnancy belts could help with lower back pain and pelvic girdle pain. The study also concluded that there was an improvement in movement, functionality, and reduced risks of falling during pregnancy when using the support belts.
Joint Pains (Sacroiliac Joint)
Sacroiliac SI joint pain is experienced in the lower back and buttocks. This pain is mainly caused by damage to the joints found between the spine and hip.
It can also be caused by an increase in the hormone relaxin, which causes the hip joint to loosen and become unstable.
This sharp pain in the lower back region can drastically reduce the quality of life of a pregnant woman. Belly belts help stabilize the hip joints by carrying the extra weight off of the hips and preventing pain during movement.
Round ligament pain
This is a sharp pain felt in the groin area mostly in the second trimester.
It is caused by the extra weight exerted on the ligaments supporting the womb. Though temporary, the pain can be quite unbearable.
Maternity belts help distribute pregnancy weight relieving pressure on the ligaments.
By distributing the weight across the back and belly, pregnancy bands help improve posture. A 2018 study shows that 90 pregnant women had improved posture during all three trimesters.
By distributing the weight equally, these belts help even out the center of gravity, giving these women more balance.
Facilitate easier movements and better exercises
Wearing a belly belt helps make walking and exercises such as running more comfortable.
Exercising during pregnancy has good health benefits. As long as you take the necessary precautions.
Exercises strengthen the back and lower abdomen muscles. Exercise also helps decrease the occurrence of certain illnesses such as diabetes.
However, the pain and discomfort experienced during pregnancies make this impossible.
Thankfully, a maternity belt can help you get all this done, without the pain.
Reduces the risk of falling
According to a 2014 study, wearing a pregnancy support belt lowers the risk of falling. Support belts stabilize the pelvic area and help achieve proper balance. This prevents or reduces the risk of falling.
When to wear a belly belt
Pregnancy/ belly belts can be worn both during and after pregnancy. Before wearing a belly belt please consult your doctor. There are risks to wearing belly belts especially if you don’t need them.
An important point to remember is that these belts are used to help manage pain and discomfort, especially during the last trimesters.
In the previous point, we mentioned that there are risks to wearing belly belts, which risks are these?
Wearing a belly support belt for long periods can cause muscle atrophy. The belts usually take the load off the back and abdomen muscles.
This can cause them to waste away if they remain inactive for long periods. Women who made this mistake previously have at times incurred injuries during post-partum when they try to lift heavy objects.
You should only wear these belts for a few hours or as recommended. Belly belts can also be combined with mild strength training to ensure your back muscles remain strong.
Putting too much pressure on the body is never a good idea. You should consult your doctor to check whether any underlying conditions would be aggravated by the amount of compression provided by the belt.
Most doctors will advise women to wear the right size belt and to avoid very tight garments during pregnancy.
Too much compression affects blood circulation for the mother and baby. It can also affect blood pressure. However, it should be noted that gentle compression reduces discomfort and helps with movements.
Pregnancy belts are extremely helpful during pregnancy, especially during the last trimesters.
They help you manage the weight better. They relieve the pain and improve comfort, allowing you to participate in your daily activities with ease.
However, it’s paramount to consult your doctor before wearing one. It’s also prudent to take precautions and avoid the don’t do’s of wearing such belts. For example, you shouldn’t wear a belly belt for prolonged times, don’t tighten the belt too much, and ensure you don’t become dependent on it.
These few recommendations will help you use the belt safely and get the best results during your pregnancy.