Although there are many different styles and products on the market, a belly band is designed to support the lower back and abdomen during pregnancy.
These flexible support garments may provide many benefits to active women who are pregnant, especially during the second and third trimesters.
Here are five ways a belly band can help you.
1. Belly bands help decrease your pain.
Back and joint pain during pregnancy can be frustrating and make it difficult to participate in everyday activities. A study in Spine Journal investigated the prevalence of back and pelvic pain during pregnancy. They found that 71 percent of women report low back pain and 65 percent report pelvic girdle pain. Belly bands can be worn during pregnancy to help support your lower back and baby bump during activities, which may result in decreased pain overall.
Sacroiliac (SI) Joint Pain
SI joint pain also frequently occurs during pregnancy as a result of the increase of relaxin, an appropriately named hormone that causes the hip joints to become loose and less stable.
It’s a sharp and sometimes excruciating pain in the lower back adjacent to the tailbone. Belly bands and braces that support this region help stabilize the joint, which may prevent pain during activities.
Round Ligament Pain
This occurs during the second trimester and is yet another annoying pain of pregnancy. It’s described as anything from a dull ache to a sharp pain on the front of the hip and below the belly.
Caused by the extra weight and pressure on the ligaments that support the growing uterus, it’s a temporary but sometimes unbearable problem! Belly bands help distribute the weight of the baby across the back and abdomen, which may help relieve the pressure on the round ligaments and reduce pain.
2. Belly bands provide gentle compression during activities.
Ever go for a run without a sports bra? Sounds awful, right? The same principle applies to a growing baby bump. Gentle compression of a belly band can help support the uterus and reduce discomfort from movement during physical activity. A word of caution: Too much compression on the abdomen can impair circulation, and it can cause negative effects on blood pressure. It can also contribute to heartburn and indigestion.
3. They provide external cues for posture.
Belly bands provide external cues to your body to facilitate proper posture. By supporting the lower back and torso, belly bands encourage correct posture and prevent overextension of the lower back. The typical “sway back” appearance of pregnancy is due to the extra weight being carried in front of the body in combination with the stretching and weakening of key core muscles that support the spine.
4. They allow you to engage comfortably in daily activities.
Exercise during pregnancy has many positive health benefits. A study in Current Reviews in Musculoskeletal Medicine indicates that prenatal exercise has a positive effect on health.
Exercise increases muscle tone and endurance and decreases the incidence of hypertension, depression, and diabetes. Many women are unable to exercise or continue working during pregnancy due to pain and discomfort. Wearing a belly band can help decrease discomfort and allow participation in daily activities, resulting in physical and financial benefits.
5. They can be worn after pregnancy for support.
Decreased core strength is common in the weeks following birth. Muscles and ligaments that were stretched and strained during pregnancy require time to heal. Weakness combined with the demanding job of caring for a newborn can be challenging and lead to injuries.
Many women find that wearing a belly band postpartum provides additional support to the abdomen and lower back, decreasing discomfort. A belly band can be beneficial to women who have experienced a separation of the abdominal muscles (diastasis recti) by physically bringing the abdominal muscles back together. Combined with specific exercises, this may assist in closing the gap between the abdominal muscles.
Remember, a belly band is a temporary fix. It does not heal the underlying condition or dysfunction. By supporting the abdomen, it can “turn off” the muscles underneath, causing increased weakness long term.
Important Things to Know About Wearing a Belly Band
- Wear a belly band or support garment for no more than two to three hours at a time to prevent over dependency.
- Exercises to strengthen the transverse abdominis (TA) should be done in combination with the use of a belly band to strengthen the core muscles both during and after pregnancy.
- Always consult your doctor before using any compression garments. Women with compromised circulation or abnormal blood pressure may be advised against the use of a belly band.
- Belly bands are for temporary use and are not a permanent fix. It’s important to address the underlying dysfunction. A referral to physical therapy is recommended to address ongoing pain both during and after pregnancy.