Why You Might Need a Pregnancy Support Band
By Rebekah Mustaleski, CPM
What is a Pregnancy Support Band?
Pregnancy is such a fun and exciting time for a family! There are so many new things to learn about, new sensations that you’ll feel, and your baby’s body is developing new parts and systems every day. But what about the changes happening to the pregnant person’s body? Pregnancy can change your posture, your balance, and put additional pressure on your joints and pelvic floor–all of which increases the workload of your muscles and ligaments.
In addition to this extra work, your body is also releasing a hormone (relaxin) that relaxes and loosens your ligaments, making them stretchy and your joints less stable. More weight and looser connective tissue–sounds like a great combination, right? Not so much, which is why a pregnancy support band can be a huge help! It can help stabilize your pelvis, improve your posture, help your baby get in a better position for delivery, and put you one step ahead in your postpartum recovery.
A pregnancy support band is made with a soft, breathable fabric, usually with adjustable elastic straps on the sides. This band sits underneath your growing abdomen to provide additional support to your muscles and ligaments. Wearing the band for a few hours each day starting around 20 weeks can help you keep good posture, reduce pregnancy-related aches and pains, as well as compress and support your abdomen during exercise—all of which will help keep you feeling your best throughout the pregnancy.
As your baby grows, your center of gravity changes, pulling your abdomen forward and creating what your provider may call “lordosis of pregnancy,” which basically means there is increased curvature of the lower back. While this is a ‘normal’ way for your body to compensate for the additional weight of your growing baby, it’s not a good habit to start. This increased curvature of the spine can lead to aches, pains, and a poorly positioned baby at delivery.
Much of our posture is habitual and by avoiding poor posture during pregnancy, you can keep your spine properly aligned and your abdominal muscles strong in preparation for delivery and postpartum.
A pregnancy support band will fit across your low back and abdomen, providing support and compression in these areas, which gently prompts your body to keep proper posture throughout the day. Much of our posture is habitual and by avoiding poor posture during pregnancy, you can keep your spine properly aligned and your abdominal muscles strong in preparation for delivery and postpartum.
When your abdominal muscles become strained during pregnancy, the weight of the baby pulls the abdomen forward and down. This makes it extremely difficult for your baby to “drop down” or “engage” into your pelvis in preparation for the delivery because of the baby’s angle in relation to the pelvic bones. By supporting your muscles with a pregnancy support band, your baby stays at a good angle to engage into your pelvis at term, as your body and baby get ready for delivery.
Reduce Pregnancy-related Aches and Pains
Back and pelvic aches and pains are commonly reported among pregnant people. As mentioned, the additional curvature in the spine caused by poor posture can cause low back and pelvic pain, particularly in the SI joint. Another culprit is the hormone relaxin, which relaxes the ligaments and connective tissue to create space for delivery, but the result is that it also creates instability of the pelvis and joints.
Studies have shown that the majority of pregnant women will experience back or pelvic pain during pregnancy, with up to 20% reporting back pain 3 years postpartum.[1, 2] Keeping good postural habits is the first step to avoiding this, but since relaxin is still going to do its job to loosen the connective tissue in your hips and pelvis, a support band can give you the stability you need to feel your best throughout the day. One study’s participants reported a significant decrease in pain and an increased ability to continue their daily activities when they used a pregnancy support belt.
So if pregnancy aches and pains have been holding you back, a pregnancy support band may be just what you need!
Up to 20% of women report back pain 3 years postpartum.
Exercise during Pregnancy with Support
There are significant amounts of research that show the many benefits of regular prenatal exercise for both mom and baby, but there are also barriers to a regular exercise routine, particularly pain with movement. Using a pregnancy support belt can minimize that discomfort, while also helping you maintain a regular workout routine throughout your pregnancy.
Current recommendations are for pregnant women to do 30 minutes of moderate exercise most or all days of the week because this lowers the risk of gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension decreases back pain, improves psychosocial well-being, and improves placental function. But many exercise routines put additional strain on the abdominal muscles and pelvic floor, which are already doing more work by supporting your growing baby throughout the day!
Using a band while exercising will provide reinforcement to these muscles, allowing you to stay strong and active without straining your abdominal muscles. Also, if you are experiencing instability in your pelvis, pain with your usual exercise movements, or feeling off balance while exercising, a pregnancy support band can help you exercise safely by compressing the hips and pelvis to stabilize your movements and allow you to meet the activity goals of a healthy pregnancy.
A pregnancy support band can make a world of difference in how you feel throughout the day while you’re pregnant. The recommendation is to wear it for a couple of hours at a time, as you still want your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles to stay strong. You don’t want to replace these muscles with a band, but support them and the extra work they are doing.
By using the band’s gentle compression for exercise, you’ll reinforce these muscles groups and feel more stable and supported during your workout routine. A pregnancy support band can also help avoid or minimize the typical pregnancy aches and pains of the low back and pelvis by gently prompting your body to keep good posture.
1. Hyunju Y., Doochul, S., and Changho S. “Changes in the spinal curvature, degree of pain, balance ability, and gait ability according to pregnancy period in pregnant and nonpregnant women.” J Phys Ther Sci. 2015 Jan; 27(1): 279–284.
2. Lotta Norén, Solveig Östgaard, Gun Johansson, and Hans C. Östgaard. “Lumbar back and posterior pelvic pain during pregnancy: a 3-year follow-up.” Eur Spine J. 2002 Jun; 11(3): 267–271.
3. Carr CA. “Use of a maternity support binder for relief of pregnancy-related back pain.” J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2003 Jul-Aug;32(4):495-502.
4. Gaston A, Cramp A. “Exercise during pregnancy: A review of patterns and determinants.” J Sci Med Sport 2011;14:299-305.
5. Prather, H., Spitznagle, T., Hunt, D. “Benefits of exercise during pregnancy.” American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Vol. 4, 845-850, November 2012.
About the Author
Rebekah Mustaleski is a Certified Professional Midwife with Roots & Wings Midwifery in Knoxville, TN, where Rebekah promotes evidence-based maternity care for families seeking an out of hospital delivery. She is working to improve maternal outcomes during the childbearing year and to promote a sustainable business model for midwifery practices across the country. Rebekah is co-owner of Roots & Wings Midwifery, LLC as well as Treasurer for the Tennessee Midwives Association.
All content published on the Motif Medical site is credited for information purposes only. This information should not substitute as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult your doctor or qualified health professional with any questions regarding the health of you or your baby.