Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Belly Belts? Should you wear Pregnancy Support Belts?

Let me tell you a little bit about my experience as a personal trainer and corrective exercise specialist.
During the 15 years I have trained pregnant and post natal females none of my clients have needed or required to use the pregnancy support belts.

What are they?

The belts are generally made of neoprene, a wide belt that fastens under your uterus.
The companies that sell these belts advertise that the belts offer support to your growing uterus, reduce back and hip pain along with decreasing diastasis recti-abdominal separation post pregnancy.
Belts can be bought off the internet and are known by many names such as belly belts, my smiley belt and pregnancy belts.
Physiotherapists and midwives can and will recommend the usage of the support belts.

What professionals should be doing is educating pregnant women on the importance of good posture and maintaining an exercise program. Prevention is a much better option.

Do you need to wear a belt?

You shouldn’t need to wear support belts during your pregnancy but if you have poor posture, have a job that requires a lot of time on your feet, have gained excess pregnancy weight, a multiple pregnancy, have had previous hip and back pain then these factors may require you to use a support. These factors however should not determine the use of the support belts.

Advised to wear a belt?

If you have to wear a pregnancy support belt then your midwife or physiotherapist should advise you to also do corrective exercise and avoid positions that increase your pain. There are many articles on my site about the benefits of good pregnancy posture and the correct exercise to do.

You should NOT wear the belts for more than a couple of hours a day. This is due to the fact that your body will start to rely on the belt for support not your muscles with prolonged use. You are switching off your core muscles and you could weaken the muscles further with prolonged over-use of the belts.
If you do have to wear one LIMIT the time wearing the belt and do your exercises to prevent the condition from getting worse. Long term use of the support belts can deactivate your muscles this could make your back and hip pain worse!

Poor Posture and weak abdominal muscles can reduce how efficiently you carry the weight of your uterus. The strain of a big baby, a multiple pregnancy and excessive weight gain during pregnancy can increase hip instability and abdominal separation.
If muscles are weak and overstretched they can no longer do the job that they are supposed to do which is support you. So another support is required, a belt!

What can I do to Prevent wearing the Support Belts?

It is extremely important during your pregnancy that you perform exercises that will engage the hip stabilizing muscles your glutes. The gluteus maximus and gluteus medius muscles must remain strong during pregnancy to reduce excess pelvic instability. Pelvis instability causes many problems such as SPD-Symphsis pubis dysfunction, Sciatic pain, Hip and lower back pain: The blog I wrote in a previous post explains more on lower back and hip pain associated with pelvis instability:

Why Is Corrective Pregnancy Exercise so Important?

If you exercise correctly with exercises that target your glutes and activate your core muscles with stabilizing exercises such as lunges, ballerinas and one leg hip hitches (NOT CRUNCHES or PLANKS) you should not have to wear the belts.
Try to avoid needing a belt by following a pregnancy exercise program and adopting good posture.

My Pregnancy Programs include all the exercise and advice you need to exercise safely and reduce back and hip pain during your pregnancy:

If you have any questions about this article please comment or Post on facebook:

Visit my website; Email:

If you feel any pain or discomfort whilst exercising, stop. If pain continues consult you L.M.C or G.P
The information included in this article has been written by Lorraine Scapens: She is not able to provide you with medical advice the information is used as guidelines. You cannot hold Lorraine liable in any way for any injuries that may occur whilst training.


  1. Great read! Thanks for the info.

  2. That's wonderful. You are so creative and make own maternity support belt. Glad to have this fantastic tutorial and tips! You are great and must learn from you too....

    post pregnancy belly

  3. I've been thinking about buying one because I'm carrying low and have been having really terrible round ligament pain. My back and hips have been fine, but the front of my abdomen is in pain whenever I stand up. Any exercise recommendations?

  4. Hi Shoshie have a look at the belts on and only wear for 2-3 hours a day when you are out shopping etc.
    Try to do modified kneeling side planks and other safe core exercises that will help strengthen your lower abdominal muscles

  5. Any exercise's recommended for SPD? (Symphysis Pubic Dysfunction) This is my 3rd pregnancy, I'm only 14weeks, I'm a High risk pregnancy. I had SPD with my first for the last month of my pregnancy, I had SPD with my second from 20weeks on it was horrible I was put on bed rest because I could hardly walk at all I managed to have both my kids naturally ( with moderations no laying straight on my back legs not up..but rather underneath me ect) This time around I want to find out if there is anything I can do in order to help myself before it gets to the point of bed rest and not being able to take care of my 4year old and 3year old. I'm already feeling the starting signs of SPD...I should also note that I have a broken tail bone that jars to the right so I cant do all exercise's. Thank you in advance Casandra

    1. Hi yes you need to address your posture and correct any muscle imbalances this article will help and it has a few exercise idea for you:

  6. I've been having really bad back pain on my right side. My doctor suggested in 2 weeks to start wearing a prenatal belt. I have a very small pregnancy belly. (only gained 2 lbs from my start weight. originally lost 5 and am now 2 lbs heavier than start weight). I have previous back pain from scoliosis. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Yell, Thats very ignorant of your doctor to not even refer you to a physiotherapist, you will have a muscle imbalance which needs addressing with corrective exercise. I worked with a client through her pregnancies who had surgery to correct her scoliosis. Belts are not the answer as it could make your condition much worse. I would suggest you see a physiotherapist very soon

  7. Hi,
    I am 24 weeks pregnant with quite a big belly (just one baby). I work as a primary school teacher, and after a day on my feet with the kids, the middle of my back is very painful. I can't get comfortable anywhere but lying down. Would you recommend a belt to help out until I stop teaching in a month or so? What exercises could help?

    1. Hi Gem, Congrats on your pregnancy I would suggest you start some rehabilitation exercises and address your posture during the day. You need to strengthen your core and glute muscles with specific exercise.