So you’re in your second trimester of your pregnancy and some people are advising you to wear a belly belt. And you might be thinking, “Should I or shouldn’t I?” As far as medical science is concerned, there is no conclusive evidence or even any real evidence that proves wearing a belly belt, which is also called a pregnancy belt or belly band during pregnancy or post-partum actually helps.
Yes, you may have read or heard about the wonders of wearing this type of belt after giving birth and losing weight without eating specific food or even bothering to exercise in any way. Well, so far, as of late December 2015, there is no medical evidence to support the notion that wearing such a belt helps to reduce your weight.
So, if you’ve been thinking about wearing this kind of belt merely to lessen your weight after giving birth, think again. Does this mean that there are no benefits to wearing a belly band? No, there are specific benefits of wearing the belly belt. As with many things in life, there are pros and cons of wearing a belly belt during pregnancy. Here are four pros and three cons for you to think about:
8 Pro: Relieving Lower Back, Joint and Muscular Pain
Pregnant women especially those in their late second and third trimesters are described as “waddling” instead of “walking.” Yes, it’s waddling like a duck, not walking steadily like normal. Due to the additional weight that a pregnant woman has to carry, it affects everything from her posture to the way she walks. The extra weight causes her to be off balance, so she waddles. The extra weight also exerts pressure on her lower back, ligaments, muscles and joints, which can cause pain.
During the second trimester, there is bound to be round ligament pain, which could merely be a dull ache or an acute pain in the abdomen, hip or even groin area. The intensity of the pain can increase depending on the rapidity of movements or changes in position. The reason is because of the pressure of the additional weight that the ligament has to endure to support a pregnant mother’s growing embryo. The round ligament connects the groin to the front area of the uterus.
One of the Spine Journal’s studies shows that 71 percent of women endure lower back pain while 65 percent experience pelvic pain during their pregnancy. When you wear a belly belt, the baby’s weight is spread more evenly over your abdomen and lower back. This alleviates pressure on the lower body muscles, ligaments, joints and back, lessening pain. Abdominal pain during pregnancy is due to ligament pain, muscular pain and a heavier uterus. This kind of pain can be lessened by wearing an appropriate belly belt.
7 Pro: Relieving Hip Pain and SI Joint Pain
Sacroiliac Joint, or also known as SIJ, is located in the pelvic area. It refers to a pair of joints, one on the left side of the pelvic and the other on its right side. This pair of joints is primarily responsible for stability during various physical activities and shock absorption in the lower body area. During the third trimester, specific hormones are released to loosen and stretch the connective tissues like muscles and joints in the hip and pelvic areas for easy labor later on. As a result of the loosening, the SI joints become excessively mobile, causing pain.
Also, you may not be able to walk stably or find yourself unstable when you wish to get up after sitting on a sofa for a long time due to the instability of the SI joints. Wearing a belly belt during your pregnancy helps to stabilize the pair of SI joints, which in turn lessens SI joint pain.
Due to a bigger belly, it’s common for pregnant women to adopt different postures than that of when they weren’t pregnant. This variance in postures while sitting, walking and doing other activities in addition to a bigger belly and lower back pain may all contribute to hip pain in some pregnant mothers. If you’re one of them, consider wearing a belly band.
Another possible reason for hip pain in pregnant women is sciatica. Sciatica refers to the pain or tingling feeling that occurs in the hip area. Because of a bigger belly that exerts pressure on the sciatic nerves. These nerves begin from under the heel to the hip, but the pain and pressure is usually felt in the hip. Once again, wearing a belly belt to spread the weight evenly over your abdomen and lower back helps to lessen hip pain due to sciatica.
6 Pro: Lessening Discomfort During Various Physical Activities
If you carry out a great deal of work on your feet at home, wearing the belly belt may help. Those who are pregnant and can’t afford to stop working or desire to continue working at the office or elsewhere should also consider wearing a belly belt. The belt softly compresses your large belly, supporting your heavy uterus and thus, lessens discomfort during various physical activities.
Bear in mind that any physical discomfort would affect your mental concentration and consequently, your work performance. By supporting the extra weight and lifting the weight higher, it relieves the pressure your lower back feels, which is why if you work on your feet during pregnancy a belly belt or belly band might be just what you need to get you through your days at work.
5 Pro: Encouraging Proper Posture During Pregnancy
During your pregnancy, there is a great possibility of overextending your lower back due to weaker and loosened core muscles, not to mention the loose joints and ligaments that support your spine. Bear in mind that during the third trimester, especially when the time for delivering your child nears, your body naturally releases various hormones that loosen your muscles, ligaments and joints in the pelvic and hip areas for ensuring an easier labor for you.
Also, your muscles, ligaments and joints are weaker due to the amount of stretching during your second and third trimesters, but especially during your third trimester. Wearing a belly belt helps to avoid overextending your lower back during sitting, walking and other postures.
4 Cons: Depending Too Much on Your Belly Belt
Now that the part about pros of wearing a belly belt during pregnancy is covered, here are the promised three cons:
Depending too much on your belly belt is not a good thing. By this, it means that you shouldn’t be wearing it all day long every day. Wearing it just for two to three hours every day is best. If you were to wear it too long, you may end up weakening your lower body muscles due to too much stretching.
Also, wearing it too long especially if it’s too tight can cause a lot of compression on your abdomen, which can have negative effects on your body’s ability to circulate your blood. Apart from the possibility of high blood pressure, the constant use of a belly band could also cause indigestion or even heartburn because of bad blood circulation.
3 Cons: More Expenditure During Your Pregnancy
There are a number of types of belly belts on the market nowadays, but the three major types available are full prenatal cradle, additional support belt and single strap belt. The full prenatal cradle provides a broad range of support for your abdomen during pregnancy. The kind of support that this type of belt gives varies according to the brand and model. You may find one with an adjustable shoulder strap and a lower belt.
There are also full prenatal cradle types that have a wide lower belt for supporting not just your abdomen, but also your back and waist.
The extra or additional support belt usually has a strap across your belly top. The single strap belt is the most basic of the three major types of belly belts. The pricing of each type varies depending on the features. For example, if you were to choose one with elastic side panels that provide compression and support not to mention aeration, it might be more costly compared to one without any side panels.
Also, a belly belt does not have a standard size. The appropriate size depends on your belly’s circumference. This means that you have to get a couple of different sizes of belly belts while your belly grows during the second and third trimesters. This means more expenses during your pregnancy, the period when you might be saving your money for the road ahead and for other relevant health expenses not to mention the money you need to set aside for your little one’s arrival into the world.
2 Cons: Disadvantage When it Comes to Wearing Clothes
If you’re the sort who adores tight fitting blouses or dresses, you may have to forget about wearing a belly belt. While it’s indeed possible to get one that sits flat on your abdomen these days, there might be a chance it’s noticeable under your clothes when you move freely, more so if the particular dress or blouse is made of a thin material. A see-through blouse or dress is a no-no, unless you don’t mind people ogling at your belly belt and wondering whether you’re wearing a revolver belt.
Instead of a dress or short skirt, think about wearing a pair of trousers to cover the belt. Some pregnant women may not feel comfortable wearing a belt even if it’s just for a couple of hours. So perhaps, you should borrow one or try one out at the department store first and determine if you’re comfortable wearing it for a couple of hours.
Belly belts have Velcro closures or hook and loop, hook and eye and other types of fastening. With the hook and eye fastening type, you can choose the most comfortable belly circumference at any time. The hooks may get caught on your clothing and cause rips and pulls in the fabric. Clothing may also get caught in the velcro and become wrecked.
1 Cons: Can Wear a Belly Band Too Tightly
A plus point about buying a belly belt is that it’s useful even during post-partum. It’s common for your pelvic and hip muscles and ligaments to be strained or stretched because of labor. For avoiding the possibility of injury, you can wear the belly belt for supporting the muscles and ligaments. It isn’t meant to be a permanent fix, but merely a temporary one.
A more permanent fix is undoubtedly daily exercise. Not only do you shed the extra pounds, but you also build muscle and ligament strength and endurance, which will come in handy for the birth and recovery afterward. There’s the added bonus that exercising can help keep away depression, which some new mothers experience during or right after post-partum. Belly bands can also help with diabetes and hypertension, which can affect new mothers as well.
Ask your doctor how to wear your belly belt to avoid putting pressure on your uterus, and only wear a belly belt for a couple of hours a day, never wear a pregnancy belt continually.
If you happen to be pregnant with twins or more, wearing a belly belt during your pregnancy is a great. Having a multiple pregnancy means that your uterus will be much heavier compared to a woman with a single pregnancy. So your weight would most probably be more off balance compared to the latter. Wearing the belly belt helps to spread the weight more evenly over your lower back and abdomen, lessening abdominal, lower back and hip pain.
Prior to buying your belly belt, make a point to consult with your doctor first. Women with specific medical conditions such as SI joint dysfunction may not be advised to wear a belly belt. Consulting your doctor will ensure that there are no complications during your pregnancy. And if your doctor approves and you decide to wear the belly belt or band, make sure that you don’t wear it too tight to avoid complication or hindrance to your blood circulation.