Pregnancy is an amazing time in a woman’s life, but it can also be uncomfortable. One way to make pregnancy more comfortable is to use belly straps (sometimes called a maternity support belt). Belly straps help support the stomach and back, which can relieve some of the pain and discomfort pregnant women often experience, especially in the third trimester.
There are many different types of pregnancy belts available, so it is important to find the right one for you. In this blog post, we will discuss the different types of belly straps and how to choose the right one for you. We will also explore some of the benefits of using belly straps during pregnancy.
But first, how do I know all of this? Hi — I’m Hilary — The Pregnancy Nurse 👩⚕️. I have been a nurse since 1997 and I have 20 years of OB nursing experience, I am also the curly head behind Pulling Curls and The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. 🩺 I have worked with lots of patients and providers talking to ways more comfortable with all my experience. So, I think I’m a good one to chat this up with you today!
What’s in This Article (click on an area to jump ahead)
Of course, this post is just informational, and you should definitely talk to your provider before considering wearing one. See what types they recommend for your specific problem, and discuss any risks or benefits specific to you (or alternatives).
What are belly straps for pregnancy and what do they do?
As your baby grows it puts pressure on ligaments, in addition to changing your posture due to your center of gravity shifting. The good news, is that these belly straps can help these types of pains, especially when used correctly.
Belly straps (also called pregnancy belly bands) for pregnancy are designed to support the stomach and back with your growing baby bump. They are usually made of stretchy material, such as spandex or Lycra, and have a wide band that goes below your belly. Some belly straps also have a built-in support panel that helps to lift the stomach. This can provide extra support for the back and help to relieve pain. Belly straps are often used to help pregnant women who experience lower back pain, pelvic pain, round ligament pain, and other pregnancy-related pains.
There are also bands that provide gentle compression for varicose veins in that area as well.
BTW, looking for more emotional support, check this out. You need support of all kinds when you’re pregnant!
Also, if you have belly button pain << I have a full post on that.
What belly straps are not for
If your pelvic pain is more cramping. If accompanied by any bleeding or discomfort you definitely want to talk with your provider. The maternity belly bands are mainly just to help support your belly, and back as your center of gravity and postural changes during pregnancy.
When should you start wearing belly straps?
This will be different for every pregnant women, but most don’t need it until the third trimester.
However, depending on your daily activities, size of baby and your size, some women find them helpful in the second trimester. I have a whole post on when your belly will start to get hard during pregnancy.
Which means, if you need the support of a band, you also need one of these. 😉
How often should you wear belly straps for pregnancy
There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Some women choose to wear belly straps all day, while others only wear them when they are experiencing pain or discomfort. If you are going to wear them all day, it is important to make sure that they fit well and that you are comfortable.
If you plan to wear it daily a few thoughts:
- Make sure your belly is getting a good amount of “freedom” from the band to help oxygenate those tissues, and make sure baby’s movement isn’t constrained from it. Talk with your provider to see how long is OK for you.
- Get a few of them, as you’ll want to either wash or “air” them between wearings
- Maybe try a few styles to see which ones you like most.
- Consider kinesiology tape, there’s more about it below.
How to wear belly straps for pregnancy
Belly straps for pregnancy are easy to wear. The band should be positioned around the lower part of the stomach, just above the hips. If the strap has a built-in support panel, it should be positioned under the belly. Once the strap is in place, you can adjust it to find the perfect fit. Most belly straps have Velcro closures, so you can easily adjust them as your stomach grows during pregnancy.
Some women with pelvic girdle pain find it helpful to place the band a bit lower to also give their pelvis some support if they are experiencing “lightening crotch“. You could use the band to hold on a cold pack if the area is very painful.
Most are pretty slim and shouldn’t show under maternity clothes.
I would recommend wearing it for as short periods as possible. It is important that area of skin still have time to breathe, and for you to give your body a full range of motion.
I have a whole post on how to wear pregnancy belly straps.
Different Types of Belly Straps for Pregnancy
I have seen a few types
Some just go around your lower abdomen
Some go over your full belly (personally, I think I’d like these less)
Some have a strap around the top of your belly as well
Some even have “suspenders” (these may help to correct posture as well)
There are even full maternity support garments that go from your thighs up to your bra line.
Some also support varicose veins in your lady parts (talk to your doctor first if you think you need this kind).
There is also pregnancy kinesiology tape as well. Although I don’t personally have any experience with these, they say that it helps support your belly and ligaments. It also wouldn’t have the extra heat that might be involved with the traditional bands. I was really interested in this study as this type of support doesn’t have as many drawbacks. This article shares why it is helpful.
I have found a brand that is made specifically for pregnant moms: MummyTape use coupon code PREGNURSE for 20% off your order.
Whatever type you purchase, make sure you find supportive belly bands that work for you. As these are sort of difficult to find in stores, you might need to just look at reviews from people who seem similar to you, and purchase a few (and possibly return a few).
How to choose the right kind of belly band?
I would consider what type of pain you have:
If is along your full back (postural issues too), perhaps the suspender kind is better.
If you’re an active woman looking for support during workouts you’ll want something light and breathable.
Is your pain due to just one type of physical activity. Can you limit that?
Are you looking for more of “maternity shapewear” to make things more smooth there’s the full body garment. That type would definitely limit the lines you might see with a regular belt (but would be hotter).
The benefits of wearing belly straps for pregnancy
They say are many benefits to wearing belly straps for pregnancy. Belly straps are supposed to help:
– Relieve pain
– Support the stomach and back
– Prevent stretch marks
– Improve posture
– Ease si joint pain (sacro-illiac pain)
– Ease discomfort during pregnancy
– Support your round ligaments (these are the things that feel like a sharp pain if you cough or sneeze, or get up quickly).
I wanted to see what the studies showed though:
- This one showed that when worn over hips they can help with pelvic girdle pain (I can speak to this, and it helped me a LOT, especially postpartum)
- This study showed back pain was eased most by the use of these belts or accupuncture (another good option).
Belly straps are a great way to make pregnancy more comfortable. If you are experiencing pain or discomfort, belly straps may be able to help. Talk to your doctor or midwife about whether belly straps are right for you.
That being said, I’m not sure I’d go all in on several pairs until I knew it actually helped.
Myths about Belly Straps
I really don’t think that belly straps prevent stretch marks, although I have heard people saying that. Much of that is due to how your skin stretches with the baby growing, not so much your abdomen hanging low.
Also, the studies show that some women aren’t helped by them, so be aware they won’t work for everyone.
Risks of wearing pregnancy support bands
While there are many benefits to wearing belly straps for pregnancy, there are also some risks.
Belly straps can put pressure on the bladder and could cause urinary incontinence (these would be more the ones that go up higher).
They can cause skin irritation.
If placed too tightly, I suppose there is a chance of decreasing blood flow to that area or to your lower body. Most likely that would also include some pain in that area as well, that would be relieved within minutes of removing it.
I would be sure to be doing your kick counts and notice if baby moves less when the bands are applied. There is the possibility (if it were very tight) that it could do something like that (again that physio tape wouldn’t have the issue of constricting blood flow).
If you experience any of these problems, stop wearing the belly strap and talk to your doctor.
How to choose the right belly strap for pregnant women
There are many different types of belly straps available, so it is important to choose the right one for you. When selecting a belly strap, consider the following factors:
– Support: The amount of support you need will depend on your individual needs. If you are experiencing pain, you may need a belly strap with a built-in support panel. If you are just looking for a little extra support, a basic belly strap may be all you need.
– Material: Belly straps are usually made from stretchy materials, such as spandex or Lycra. Look for breathable fabric that you find comfortable (and is hopefully can be cleaned via washing machine) for everyday activities.
– Fit: Make sure that the belly strap fits snugly around your lower abdomen and hips (if you want to wear it low). It should not be too loose or too tight.
– Adjustability: Belly straps should be adjustable so that you can find the perfect fit as your stomach grows.
– Style: There are many different styles of belly straps available. Choose a style that you feel comfortable wearing.
What are Postpartum Belly Wraps For?
Some people say they will help you recover your figure but I, personally, don’t find that to be true.
They can be very helpful for new C-section moms as the uterus can be very heavy and wobbly on their incision. However, it is really important that you start to work those abdominal muscles to go back to their regular jobs and return to your new postpartum body.
You will want to wear them less and less as you heal, so your abdominal muscles begin to take over this work.
Many moms also find them super hot and restrictive, so I only recommend them for c-section moms (we call them an abdominal binder in the hospital). But, if you think it might be helpful during your postpartum recovery, talk with your provider.
A hip belt (or pelvic belts) can be helpful if your pelvis is still very wobbly (but you’ll also want times without it so those muscles and your pelvic floor can strengthen after baby. If you’re finding it that painful, make sure to talk to a physical therapist. During your postpartum period those relaxin hormones that tell your pelvis to spread are disappearing, and it should start to heal up (and physical therapy can be very helpful)
Ok, now that we’ve talked about supporting your belly, who is supporting YOU? NOW is the time to get a prenatal class. This one can be done from the comfort of your couch or bed, so no belly strap needed. It is:
- Taught by an experienced nurse (me)
- Can be done in just a few hours
- Is meant to get your partner to be a part of your TEAM rather than just a cheerleader.
And, if you’re not quite sure you’re ready for that whole thing, check out the free lesson from it. It’s your first step toward getting in the driver’s seat of your birth.
- About the Author
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A nurse since 1997, she has worked in various fields including pediatrics, geriatrics & hospice. She has 20 years of labor and delivery experience in the San Jose, CA and Phoenix, AZ areas.
As an evidence-based prenatal educator Hilary has delivered thousands of babies and has educated hundreds of thousands of parents from a diverse patient population to help them have a confident birth.