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Should I Use a Pregnancy Belt or Belly Band? All Your Questions Answered.

by SRC Health on March 21, 2023

Approximate Reading Time: 5 minutes

Pain during pregnancy can be debilitating and make it difficult to enjoy what should be a truly wonderful experience. Research has shown that approx. 70% of all pregnant women suffer low back pain and up to 45% complain of Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP)1,2. Women with one or both conditions can find it difficult to cope with or participate in everyday activities. Pregnancy belly bands/belts are for many women the “go to” medical support appliance to deal with these common pregnancy aches and pains. Before we dive in, let's examine the reasons why we have these pains.

What’s causing the Low Back Pain and Pelvic Girdle Pain?

One hormone released during pregnancy is Relaxin which softens ligaments and other soft tissues throughout the pregnancy and throughout breastfeeding. Once ligaments become softer the underlying joint becomes more mobile, this has the potential to lead to pain of varying degrees of severity.

What can you do to minimize these painful symptoms?

For centuries women have sought relief for these pregnancy related conditions. Now there exist several products that can help ease some if not all the pain depending on its severity.

One of these products is a pregnancy belt or a pregnancy belly band. These generic terms are used interchangeably (although originally, they had very different meanings!)

There are many versions of pregnancy belly bands in the marketplace, some more supportive than others. The primary purpose of a pregnancy belt or belly band is aimed at stabilizing painful pelvic and back joints. However, if you use a pregnancy belly band/belt for several hours per day to help with low back and pelvic pain you need to be aware that the belly band/belt has the potential to weaken the muscles if used incorrectly (this is also referred to as muscle deactivation) that it covers as it is generally pulled tight to stabilize the underlying joints.

Here are some important and commonly asked questions about pregnancy belly bands and pregnancy belts:

Is a pregnancy belly band/belt safe?

Pregnancy belly bands/belts are considered safe to use during pregnancy, offering pain relief and support. It's important to use the pregnancy belt as directed and not to rely solely on it for support, as well as to discontinue use if it causes any discomfort or adverse effects. According to Medicinenet.com, pregnancy bally bands/belts can cause changes in your baby's heart rate, increased pain, muscle weakness, and skin irritation hence it's always best to consult with your healthcare provider before using a belly band or pregnancy belt. 

Will pregnancy belly band/belt hurt the baby?

In general, pregnancy belly bands/belts are considered safe for the baby. They are designed to support the weight of the growing uterus and relieve stress on the lower back and hips, which can improve comfort and stability during pregnancy. However, it is important to use them properly and follow the manufacturer's instructions. If you experience any discomfort or pain while wearing a pregnancy belly band, it is recommended to consult your doctor. According to MedicalNewsToday.com “…women should avoid wearing more constrictive garments, such as belly belts, for too long at any one time because they may decrease blood flow to the abdomen and growing baby. Wearing a pregnancy belt for too long could cancel out the benefits of wearing one. In a 2017 study in which 46 pregnant women wore one of two different pelvic belt models, both belts reduced pelvic girdle pain but only when the women wore them for short intervals a few times a week.”

Can pregnancy belly bands/belts help with back pain?

Pregnancy belly bands can be helpful in relieving back pain during pregnancy. They provide support for the lower back and help to redistribute the weight of the growing belly. However, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider before using a pregnancy belt and to follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper use. The danger is that if you do up the belly band too tightly you may deactivate your muscles making them weaker rather than activating them and making them stronger. 

Can you use pregnancy belts/bands for pelvic pain?

A pregnancy belt can be used for pelvic pain. Pregnancy belts are designed to provide support to the abdominal and pelvic muscles during pregnancy, which can relieve pressure on the pelvic floor and reduce pelvic pain. However, the advice above on back pain is also applicable here: don’t do them up too tightly or wear them for too long so as not to become too reliant on the pregnancy belt and not to deactivate your muscles.

Do pregnancy belly bands & pregnancy belts treat these common pregnancy aches and pains?

Pregnant women need to be aware that a pregnancy belt or belly band does not heal the condition, it only treats your symptoms.

So, what can you do to heal the condition? Visit a Women’s Health Physiotherapist! They can assist in improving your well-being and fixing the underlying problem during pregnancy. A pelvic health physiotherapist (physical therapist) can provide you with a tailored exercise and rehabilitation program which may include clinical Pilates, as well as other modalities.

What other options are there instead of belly bands and pregnancy belts?

Thousands of women’s health care professionals around the world are recommending SRC Pregnancy Compression Shorts /Leggings with unique Anatomical Support Panels (ASP) to deliver consistent gentle medical grade to improve their patients’ mobility; increasing pelvic and back support and reduce pain.

See why Anna Scammell a Masters-trained Women's Health & Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist prefers SRC Pregnancy garments to pregnancy belts/bands.

This fantastic video below from Michelle Kenway, a Physiotherapist, shows you how the best ways to relieve pelvic girdle pain when sitting, walking and resting and at the 3min15sec mark she explains exactly how the SRC Pregnancy Shorts and Leggings assist in pain relief. (there’s even a Discount Coupon Code in the Notes section!). Michelle is also an internationally renowned author and exercise instructor for women, whose educational videos have been viewed over 45 million times on YouTube.

Here are 5 main reasons why so many women choose SRC Pregnancy Compression shorts or leggings to deal with common aches and pains during pregnancy:

  1. SRC Pregnancy compression garments were designed to treat multiple conditions during pregnancy; Low Back Pain, Pelvic Girdle Pain (SIJ & SPD), Sciatic Nerve Pain, and Vulvar Varicosities. Pregnancy belts can’t treat all these conditions.
  2. According to internal SRC Health research SRC Pregnancy Shorts and Leggings are much more comfortable to wear than pregnancy belly bands/belts. Because of this, they are more likely to be worn for long periods, increasing their effectiveness.
  3. Pregnancy belly bands and belts rely on your ‘judgement’ to get the right level of compression when tightening it. Doing it up too tight and you risk muscle deactivation and pregnancy belts / belly bands should only be worn for short periods, 2-3 hours to prevent deactivation of your muscles.
  4. If worn incorrectly, there’s also the risk of compromising blood circulation, negatively impacting your pelvic floor and bowel function if the belts/bands are worn too tightly or for too long. With SRC Pregnancy Shorts and Leggings there’s no risk of deactivating your muscles.
  5. Most pregnancy belly bands/belts do not move with your body and can feel restrictive requiring constant adjustment when sitting down or getting up. Pregnancy belly bands/belts are not always comfortable or flattering especially if you are wearing them under anything that is fitted or over your clothes. Many pregnancy belts have hooks, loops, or Velcro so there is a chance of snagging your clothes.
  6. The common products marketed as pregnancy belly bands/belts do not address vulvar varicosities, something that SRC pregnancy compression garments with great success. 

Some women combine both a pregnancy belt and the SRC Pregnancy Compression Shorts /Leggings. The benefit for women with severe pain is that they can wear their Shorts/Leggings 24 hours per day without causing atrophy due to prolonged muscle deactivation and during periods where they need to be on their feet a lot they can combine both products by adding the pregnancy belt for additional support.

In summary, unlike pregnancy belly bands/belts, SRC Pregnancy Shorts or Leggings can treat multiple conditions, are more comfortable to wear and are hence more likely to be worn for longer periods which increases their effectiveness.

1Pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain (PPP), I: Terminology, clinical presentation, and prevalence.
Wu WH, Meijer OG, Uegaki K, Mens JM, van Dieën JH, Wuisman PI, Ostgaard HC.

2 Prevalence of back pain in pregnancy. Ostgaard HC, Andersson GB, Karlsson K.

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