Advocates of belly bands, belly bras and maternity belly belts swear that they help you lift your pregnant belly and reduce muscle and ligament pain. Much of this pain is centered in the back. Regardless of what you call them, these clothing items are indeed designed to lift and redistribute some of that baby weight, making it easier for you to carry your pregnant belly.
Support Is Important
A heavily pregnant belly puts a lot of strain on your pelvis, back and abdominal muscles. Not only do these muscles strain to support your belly, but your center of gravity shifts when you are pregnant, causing you to lean backwards, which puts even more pressure on your spine. Abdominal muscles support the spine, so if they become stretched and weak from supporting your belly, your back will begin to ache.
Support belts lift your belly, reducing the pressure on your abdominal muscles and pelvis. This stabilizes your spine and reduces pain in your back. In addition, some maternity pants have a wide band of elastic designed to cradle your belly and give it some support. Or, make your own support belt. Sew a 4-inch-wide piece of elastic to fit under and around your belly, and wear it under your clothing.
One of the best ways to support your belly is to build up those abdominal muscles. In fact, not only are abdominal exercises fine for most pregnant women, they are actually very beneficial, according to WebMD. Before you start an exercise plan, have it approved by your doctor, and stick with gentle exercises such as standing pelvic tilts. Or simply tighten your abs, hold them tight, and release them, then repeat. Do not do any exercises that require you to lie on your back. If approved by your doctor, doing abdomen exercises during pregnancy can be a great way to stay healthy and also build muscles that will aid in childbirth and carry that belly as it grows larger.
Belly bands are also sold for postpartum use. Often called “belly wraps,” these belts are designed to support the belly, and claim to shrink it as well. While these items do compress your post-pregnancy belly, allowing you to fit into your clothing more easily, there is no evidence to show that they actually shrink your belly any faster than if you did not use them.
Pain that radiates around the abdomen could indicate labor. Severe back pain may indicate an infection, especially if you have other symptoms such as a fever. See a doctor right away if you experience either type of pain.