What is a Belly Band
A Belly Band acts as a supportive garment (such as a Sports Bra) that women can wear during and after pregnancy. Belly Bands offer slight compression; which helps stabilize the belly during activities, and could take some pressure off the abdominal and back muscles. Belly bands are designed to support the lower back and abdomen, as well as the pelvis (in some cases, depending on the type of band you get). A Belly Band can help cue women to engage their core muscles, but it does not replace the importance of strengthening your muscles through exercise.
Belly Bands can offer comfort during daily and physical activities, as well as reduce soreness in later stages of pregnancy as the belly gets bigger and the abdominal wall expands.
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When to Use a Belly Band
-Belly Bands are great to use when performing core strengthening exercises. You can use the belly band as a way to cue yourself to engage your abdomen, as well as support the working muscles.
-Belly bands should be used when performing exercises in quadruped in order to support the abdominal muscles and cue you to engage your core. Instead of letting your belly hang down, the belly band offers some compression and lift in order to assist your transverse abdominis muscles in supporting the belly.
-During pregnancy, Belly Bands can help relieve pain from the Sacroiliac Joint (SI Joint), which causes the pelvis to become less stable due to the hormone Relaxin. Finding a belly band that provides support to the SI joint through compression can help stabilize the joint and relieve pain.
-During pregnancy, Belly Bands can help relieve pain caused by the over stretching of round ligaments (2nd trimester) due to extra weight and pressure of the uterus. The Belly Band can help distribute the weight more evenly, and cueing you to use your abdominal muscles will also help relieve some of the pressure on the round ligaments.
-Using Belly Bands after pregnancy can be just as beneficial as using them during pregnancy. After pregnancy, your abdominal muscles are usually stretched out and weaker; the belly band can provide some needed compression to keep help the muscles together. Using the belly band in conjunction with core strengthening exercises after pregnancy can help in decreasing a diastasis recti.
-After pregnancy, the Belly Band can help distribute weight more evenly throughout the abdomen and back, creating more support and less discomfort during daily activities.
Important Information About Wearing Belly Bands
-Belly Bands are supportive garments, meaning that they should be used in conjunction with exercise, not instead of. It is important to not become dependent on the garment, and therefore, it should not be worn all day.
-Belly Bands should be worn for short periods of time (1-3 hours) during times when you need the support most (walking, running, exercising). It is not recommended that women wear belly bands all day long due to the compression, which can affect blood circulation and pelvic floor function.
-It is important to note that you should not solely rely on the belly band; it is only a temporary fix, and should be used in conjunction with exercise and other treatments. Treating the underlying problem vs. relying on the belly band for constant pain relief is important. It is also important to train your muscles to work on their own as opposed to constantly supporting them and in turn making them weaker over time.
-Consult your OBGYN before using compression garments if you have any underlying conditions that could potentially cause you or the baby harm.
-If you have ongoing pain, see a physical therapist for further assessment, diagnosis, and treatment. Wearing Belly Bands will not treat your problem, they are a supportive device that can be used in conjunction with other treatments.
Elina Skripochnik PT, DPT, CSCS
Elina is a Physical Therapist with experience in women's health and pediatrics. She aims to educate women on the importance of becoming and staying active during pregnancy, as well as to provide safe and easy exercises that can be done throughout pregnancy and beyond.