As your baby grows, so does your middle. And the bigger they get, the more uncomfortable you become.
Lower back, hip, and pelvic discomfort are par for the course during pregnancy. Many women experience this starting in their second trimester.
You can blame the discomfort on your expanding uterus’ extra pressure on ligaments and muscles. Plus there’s that ever-changing center of gravity brought on by baby weight. Pregnancy hormones also soften up ligaments and loosen pelvic bones in preparation for childbirth.
A popular source of relief for mothers-to-be is the pregnancy belt, also known as a belly band. This bandeau bra-like contraption fits snugly around your hips just below the abdomen, to support your growing belly.
Many women report less pelvic and lower back pain as a result of using a belly belt. According to a study in the Journal of Biomechanics, pregnancy belts do appear to reduce muscle stress in the pelvic region.
Here are a few reasons why you should consider wearing a pregnancy belt.
1. It may promote prenatal health.
Pregnancy aches aren’t just a pain. If left unchecked, they can pose real risks to you and your baby.
A study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found a connection between back pain and sleep disturbances. A lack of sleep may also increase the chance of a preterm birth, according to BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth.
To cope with the pain, an alarming number of pregnant women are turning to painkillers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that painkillers could pose a risk for serious birth defects, depending on the medication.
Wearing a belly belt starting in the second trimester — or sooner if you’ve been pregnant before or are carrying multiples — may help minimize these prenatal buzz killers.
2. It’s not your first pregnancy.
A study published in Current Reviews in Musculoskeletal Medicine suggests that 50 to 80 percent of women report lower back pain during pregnancy. And according to a study published in the European Spine Journal, almost 20 percent of pregnant women suffer from pelvic girdle pain.
The odds of having one or both of these ailments increase with each subsequent pregnancy. This is especially true if you had lower back or pelvic girdle pain the first time around.
Another study found that 85 percent of women who reported back pain during their first pregnancy also experienced back pain during subsequent pregnancies.
Muscles and ligaments in the lower back, abdomen, and pelvis have likely been weakened from previous pregnancies and could use whatever support they can get.
3. You’re carrying multiple babies.
Abdominal muscles stretch as the uterus grows and affect their ability to keep your posture in check. The lower back ends up picking up the slack and all that additional weight. Hello, back pain!
Multiple buns in the oven means more weight, stretching, back pain, and pelvic pain.
4. You’re an active mama.
There’s no reason to skimp on physical activity when you’re expecting. In fact, exercise during pregnancy is strongly encouraged.
Once you reach your third trimester, the extra weight and shift in your center of gravity make it more difficult to participate in activities requiring balance and agility.
Belly belts work to support the abdomen and stabilize you as you engage in pregnancy-safe weight-bearing exercises like running, walking, and low-impact aerobics.
Even if you’re not clocking in at the gym or pounding the pavement on the daily, a pregnancy belt can help (literally) take a load off when you’re spending a lot of time on your feet.
Don’t expect the belt to solve all of your achy woes. Pregnancy belts seem to work best in combination with appropriate exercise, physical therapy, and individual treatment. Be sure to consult with your doctor before trying a belly belt. They can help determine whether you need one and which model is right for you.