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What Is a Maternity Belt Used For?

By Carolyn Williams ; Updated June 13, 2017

Maternity belts can help you maintain an exercise regimen while pregnant, soothe the irritated skin of your belly and make your back feel better. They're a critical part of a maternity wardrobe, especially as your pregnancy advances. Check with your doctor to ensure that your back pain is relieved by a maternity belt and that it's not another medical issue.

Types

Maternity belts come in three basic types. The first, and most common, is a belt that you wrap around your back and is closed with Velcro under the abdomen. This type of belt is visible under clothing and can be bulky. It can be extremely effective, however, at redistributing the weight of your pregnancy. A second type is similar to a tube top that you pull over the belly. The last type is a camisole style of support that provides the lightest support.

Function

The maternity belt types share one goal: to make pregnancy easier. A maternity belt that you wrap around your back provides back support and lifts the belly. This minimizes the pulling forward and down of your pregnant belly that's often the cause of back pain. The tube-top style is a favorite of exercising moms who want to continue their workouts but want to minimize the jostle of working out on their pregnant belly. The camisole style is often used to minimize rubbing and friction on your belly in the early stages of pregnancy.

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Considerations

Remember that the hormone relaxin is aiding your body in preparing for birth. As a result, the ligaments of the pelvis are very loose. This, compounded with the weight of pregnancy in the front of your body, makes back pain a reality for a significant number of women. Maternity belts can help manage this pain, but they cannot relieve it entirely. Consider pain a sign that your body needs further rest.

Warning

Remember that back pain is a symptom of preterm labor. Although back pain doesn't necessarily mean you've gone into labor, you should talk with your doctor about the pain before buying a maternity belt -- especially if you have a history of early labor.

Expert Insight

Although a maternity belt can help stabilize the lower back, the overall effectiveness for preventing or alleviating pain is not conclusive, state authors of "Effectiveness of Maternity Support Belts in Reducing Low Back Pain During Pregnancy: A Review," published in Journal of Clinical Nursing. Possible adverse effects include an increase in pain, a change in fetal heart rate and skin irritation.

Most insurance companies cover the cost of a maternity belt. It's considered a durable medical good under most insurance plans.

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