The Prenatal CradleAh, the fifth month of pregnancy and its perfect petite bump. I could be five months pregnant forever. Within a few weeks, the madness hits: your ligaments stretch, your baby gets big enough throw off your balance, and everything starts to hurt. That's when you might find yourself wanting a maternity support belt.
Now, when I was in that kind of back and belly pain, a belt gave me sweet, sweet relief. But I also went into early labor (not as a result – but that was part of the pain problem). So talk to your OB before buying one of these, making absolutely sure your symptoms are not early labor.
Also, your best bet is to go to a store and try these on, but that's not always possible. So here's a roundup of some support options – there are literally dozens out there – to help you figure out the right one for you. (And check with your insurance: these are sometimes considered medical devices, and therefore covered.)
Image from Ingrid & IsabelLight Support
You're probably familiar with the Bella Band ($25-$30 on Amazon), a stretchy tube that lets you continue to wear your regular jeans throughout your first trimester. (Unless you're me, in which case you look 16 weeks pregnant immediately upon implanation; that's another story.) According to Shelby at Natural Resources, a baby-supply store in San Francisco, "for people who feel like they're just kinda hanging out there, or want something hugging them when they sleep, that's what we recommend." She likens it to sort of a security blanket.
You would get the same level of support from a pair of maternity Spanx ($28-$32), a Tummy Sleeve (about $17), or a Belly Bra camisole (about $40).
Photo from Baby Belly BandMedium Support
If you're looking for something that provides medium support but is comfortable under clothes, Shelby recommends the Baby Belly Band ($38 for the band, $24-$25 for the straps). "It's made of neoprene, so it's super-bendy, and it Velcros to itself," she says. "On its own, it's medium support, but it has two types of attachments – over the shoulders, or under the groin – if you need more." Don't worry. All those attachments also go under the clothes, so you won't end up looking like a pregnant Mork from Orson.
Another option, recommended by Bonnie at DayOne, another pregnancy-support store in San Francisco, is the Prenatal Cradle. "We carry two versions of this," she says. "The Mini Cradle (about $15 at Amazon) is about three inches wide and it's just a band that goes under the belly, giving a little lift. The Best Cradle (about $42 at Amazon) goes over the shoulders, and it's quite a contraption – but it can be great for moms of multiples."
Photo from Ita-MedSerious Support
If you're truly miserable and need help, again, let your doctor know the kind of pain you're in. Then head straight for the Gabrialla/Ita-Med maternity support belt (about $40 at Amazon): both stores recommend it highly. (The Ita-Med site lists this version as "medium support" and sells an even more heavy-duty version, but this is the model carried at Natural Resources.) Shelby says that "because it's 6" thick and pretty stiff, like a back brace, it can make it hard to sit down. But if you've got to be on your feet, this is going to provide relief." Bonnie add that "this works for, oh, I'd say 80% of the moms who walk into our store. If it works right away, it's probably the right thing. If not, something else could be causing that discomfort."
Hey, we can all use a little maternity support. How have you managed to take the pressure off? Did you use another option you'd like to tell us about?