Your body goes through a lot while growing a baby. As your bump expands, the added weight puts pressure on your joints — it’s little wonder that this can lead to physical pain in the back and pelvic area. According to pelvic-floor therapist Lindsey Vestal of the Functional Pelvis, two of the most common ailments experienced by pregnant women are sacroiliac pain around the lower back (SI joint pain) and pubic symphysis dysfunction in the joints around pubic bones (PSD). However, maternity belts can help to take away some of the strain while all this is happening.
“These belts are a way to provide stability in a joint base that normally could do its job, but because it’s getting ready for baby, now that the joints are moving too much and causing discomfort,” explains Vestal. So we asked Vestal and other experts for their maternity-belt recommendations. From super-structured binders to softer bands, we’ve collected a range of options that will absorb some of the pressure and help increase your mobility during pregnancy.
Best pregnancy maternity belts
Vestal recommends this elastic maternity belt from Gabrialla and likes the fact that it has a back pocket that can accommodate a hot or cold pack, which can be “a lifesaver” if you’re experiencing that kind of pain.
Vestal also loves the Serola belt, which was one of the first ones on the market. “It’s super straightforward, specific, [sits] very low, and goes exactly where you need it to go. It’s also non-obtrusive,” she says. Lara Kohn Thompson, a licensed massage therapist, perinatal trainer, and yoga instructor also recommends a similar type of belt (the Physiomat, which is no longer available in the U.S.). Unlike most maternity belts that are placed above the pelvis, across the lumbar, and above the sacrum, a sacroiliac belt “provides more stability to the pelvic joints by compacting the outer hips and bringing the base of the pelvis inward,” Thompson explains. “This decreases sacro-lumbar pressure and helps a woman engage her pelvic floor and lower abdominal muscles.”
Another belt Vestal loves is the Baby Belly Pelvic Support, which was designed by British Columbia–based physiotherapist Diane Lee. Most maternity bands wrap from the back to the front of the pelvis, but, according to Vestal, this belt is novel in that it’s adjustable and can be attached going from the front to the back or from the back to the front. This customizability can address both PSD pain, which occurs in the front of the pelvis, and SI joint pain, which happens in the back. “If you really need that extra support in the front with PSD, this band is a godsend because women can experience both of these type of pains throughout their pregnancy; it can start in one place and go to the other,” says Vestal. “The pelvis is a ring at the end of the day, so often that pain will shift. A belt like this will allow you to customize it to what you’re experiencing.”
“This is a good one for those having groin pain, back, hernia, and pelvic-floor pain,” according to Vestal. It also comes with add-on compression-therapy groin bands.
Labor and postpartum doula Megan Davidson of Brooklyn Doula recommends the AZMED abdominal binder, a popular choice among her pregnant clients. “It is very adjustable, so it fits many people and can accommodate a growing belly if you are looking to wear something over the course of many months of pregnancy,” says Davidson. That said, she cautions that even though it claims to be “one size fits all,” it may not work for larger (or very small) pregnant people.
Similar to the Gabrialla, this belt comes with a heating and cooling pack that fits snugly in the back pocket. It’s also designed to mold to a growing baby bump. It was recommended by Greenpoint, Brooklyn–based Wild Was Mama. “The band aims to redistribute belly weight to help ease the straining on the lower back. It also works as a compression for the belly postpartum by wearing it backward,” says Victoria Tartaglione.
Doula Jennifer Mayer of Baby Caravan says that a lot of her clients like Belly Bandit’s bands and belts for their versatility during pregnancy and after. Try this two-in-one band that lifts and supports the belly during pregnancy, then acts as a hip wrap after giving birth. Sherry Jones, a birth and postpartum doula based in L.A., also recommends Belly Bandit to her clients. “It offers stable comfort and support that is convenient and easy for parents,” she says. “It is also great to wear for outings when parents are ready for outside adventures so they can continue to support their bodies.”
A favorite of Mayer’s is this woven wrap, also known as a rebozo, which is essentially a long, wide piece of fabric that can be used as a wrap during pregnancy, as a labor coping tool during labor (with the help of a doula who can use it to perform exercises that relax the hips and abdomen), and as a baby carrier postpartum.
For something more comfortable, Naima Beckles, a doula with City Births, prefers bands over belts for their comfort and the fact that they “can fit neatly under clothes.” Her go-to recommendation is the Bellaband, whose main function is to keep regular pants up. It also gives the belly a little extra support.
“A belly-support band like this is really incredible for pregnant moms, especially those who are really active and doing exercises that are a little bit more intense on the body, like maybe a runner or they’re still lifting heavy weights,” explains Cat Geiser, founder of Mama Flow Studio. According to Geiser, the belly band offers a “subtle lift of your belly and also prevents pressure on the abdominal wall.” She cites the Baobei founder’s personal experience as a mom as another plus — “not all belly bands are created equal, and there’s a fine line when it comes to the right amount of compression and too much compression.”
Best postpartum belts and bands
“New mothers need the same love and care poured into them as babies,” explains Jones. This wrap is one of the top recommendations for her clients, and it can be worn before and after pregnancy. “It offers support stability through the mid-line, hips, and lower back,” explains Jones. “Wrapping or binding encourages soft tissues and bones to come together to the original state.”
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