Buying a pregnancy support belt is a big deal because your comfort (and your freedom from pain) is the reason for your purchase! You want a quality band that’s not going to wear out and is going to support you through your whole pregnancy.
I’ve packed a lot of information into this post, but here’s the quick version of my recommendation for a pregnancy support band: it’s worth it to get a band that will stand up to every-day use through your whole pregnancy. That’s what keeps you comfortable and keeps your baby well-aligned for birth!
There are many different options ranging in price - some are dirt-cheap, some are expensive, and there are options everywhere in between. I’m going to recommend that you spend a little more on a sturdy support belt that does what it needs to rather than a flimsy thing that wears out halfway through your pregnancy - or a belt that works for a few weeks but stops providing support as your baby gets bigger.
My top recommendation for a prenatal support belt, and what I used for my last four pregnancies, is the It’s You Babe Best Cradle (previously called the Prenatal Cradle). It’s comfortable and provides complete support that lasts all day - and it’s sturdy enough to last your entire pregnancy.
There are two options available - one with complete belly support (that’s the model I use) and one with an added band for vulvar support, which is great if you’re struggling with varicosities and deep pelvic pain.
Why I Chose the It’s You Babe Best Cradle
Pregnancy aches and pains are never fun...
...but sometimes the pain can be so overwhelming that it makes you miserable. You can’t enjoy your pregnancy - and you can’t enjoy your life.
That’s how I felt in my 5th pregnancy. I actually struggled so much that I was suffering from deep prenatal depression. There were many factors, but pain was one of the biggest. I was in so much pain every day that it impacted my quality of life enormously.
My midwife recommended that I look at the It’s You Babe Best Cradle (then called the Prenatal Cradle). My mother-in-law gave me a monetary gift for the holidays and I decided to use that money to get the pregnancy support belt.
It was one of the best purchases I ever made!
While the Cradle looks complicated, it’s very easy to put on and adjust - and it made an instantaneous difference for me! The relief was literally immediate, and over the next few days I felt amazingly better.
Like I said, I had multiple factors contributing to my depression, but removing that pain was a huge factor in helping me get motivated to feel better. I was able to start exercising again, I started eating better, and I felt much better overall. I still experienced some aches, especially at night, but the difference was remarkable.
I liked the way the Cradle pregnancy support belt lifted my belly and helped distribute the weight across my upper back - some support bands I looked at wrapped just around the waist. That provides a bit of a lift but doesn’t take the stress off your lower back. I also worried that as my belly got bigger, they just wouldn’t provide enough support.
The Cradle provided robust support from the middle of my pregnancy all the way to the end - in fact, it was so durable it stood up through four pregnancies! It’s made in the USA and the quality shows.
The video below is from my 8th pregnancy - I talk about the Cradle in this segment:
Pelvic and Back Pain During Pregnancy
While pregnancy is a blessing, many women experience pain and discomfort that makes pregnancy a real challenge. Pelvic pain and back pain are both major types of pain experienced by women during their pregnancies.
Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction
Pelvic pain is often attributed to “SPD” or symphysis pubis dysfunction. Hormones work during pregnancy to soften your joints and ligaments in preparation for giving birth. This can result in SPD, which is pain at the front of the pelvis, where your pubic bones join together. This connection, called the symphysis pubis, is made with cartilage; the softening cartilage can leave bones rubbing together and cause aching or pain.
Pelvic Girdle Pain
SPD, however, doesn’t really do justice to the all-over pelvic pain that many women experience. I prefer a term more commonly used in the United Kingdom - pelvic girdle pain. This term recognizes that softening joints and ligaments, shifting internal organs, and the weight of the baby can cause pain all throughout the pelvis.
This pain can be profound and greatly impact the quality of your life.
The It’s You Babe Best Cradle addresses pelvic girdle pain by lifting your baby’s weight up out of the pelvis and distributes it evenly across your back.
Round Ligament Pain
Some women also experience round ligament pain, which is often a sharp or throbbing pain along the sides of your belly that runs down to your pelvis - it’s caused by the stretching of the round ligaments due to your baby’s growth. The Cradle helps stop this pain by taking some of the pressure off the round ligaments.
Sciatica (Sciatic Nerve Pain)
In a similar way, the Cradle also helps relieve sciatica, which is a sharp pain caused by your growing belly and shifting pelvis pinching the sciatic nerve, which runs down your leg. You often have this pain only on one side, but it can happen on both. Again, the pregnancy support belt lifts some of that weight off of your pelvis and distributes it evenly across your back, relieving pain and restoring comfort.
I do recommend that you seek the help of a chiropractor or physical therapist experienced in helping pregnancy women if your pelvic pain is intense. They can help you gently re-align your body, free pinched nerves, and get baby positioned - I found that my It’s You Babe Best Cradle really helped me stay properly aligned after I worked with a chiropractor during my pregnancies.
Many women also experience back pain during pregnancy. This pain is caused by poor alignment and by your shifted center of gravity. The weight of your baby and pull of your abdomen can cause a lot of pain.
Maintaining good pregnancy posture can help relieve back pain. I recommend you sit on an exercise ball (a “birth ball”) if you need to work at a desk for long periods during pregnancy. It naturally causes you to position your pelvis in the best way for pregnancy, which has an impact on your entire back. Across the course of your pregnancy, it gently strengthens your back muscles, too.
But good posture alone isn’t enough for many women, especially as the baby grows in the third trimester. Remember that your entire body changes - your organs shift, you gain about 60% more blood than you had pre-pregnancy, and your breasts also change significantly during pregnancy.
All of this leads to back pain, and the complete support of It’s You Babe Best Cradle provides gentle support to relieve pressure. The system re-distributes baby’s weight across your entire back instead of leaving it focus on your lower back. This helps you keep your posture straight so you also avoid stress on your upper back.
Stretch marks are caused by your growing uterus rapidly stretching the skin of your belly. It’s not uncommon to get stretch marks on your breasts and thighs, as well, because of the way pregnancy causes breast development and stores extra padding in the thighs to assist during the early weeks of breastfeeding (that’s why breastfeeding can result in quick weight loss - it uses those stores!).
A pregnancy belt may help ease the formation of stretch marks because it supports your belly and holds the baby in more secure position, causing less downward pull on your skin. This means less stress on the collagen fibers in your belly.
Stretch marks are hereditary to some extent, but excellent nutrition and good hydration make a difference. Getting plenty of healthy fats and oils also helps provide softness and stretch to the skin. Eat a whole-foods diet that’s rich in essential fatty acids, drink to thirst, and keep processed foods and carbohydrate levels lower.
Additionally, supporting your belly with a pregnancy support band keeps baby well-positioned and takes stress off the skin of your baby belly!
I did not wear a pregnancy support belt with my first four babies and I feel like good diet with plenty of fluids and health fat helped quite a bit. By my fifth baby my stomach muscles were stretched and weakened quite a bit and I felt like my belly “hung out” much more than I wanted!
The It’s You Babe Best Cradle helped support the baby’s weight so I could start to strengthen and heal my muscles and the stretching eased up on my skin considerably. I don’t think I would have gotten through those four pregnancies with few stretch marks if it hadn’t been for the extra support!
As I noted above, the Cradle helps hold your baby in an optimal position because it gives your baby extra support (even when you’re tired!).
Good baby positioning isn’t just helpful to relieve muscle aches and tension on stretched skin, however. Baby positioning is also helpful as you get close to your due date. A well-positioned baby means an easier and more straight-forward labor.
While babies generally do what they need to do to get born, including rotating from all different positions, optimal positioning is helpful.
Sometimes pregnancy stresses belly muscles and allows your baby to lean far forward. This isn’t the best position for your baby to line up for birth. A pregnancy band gives extra support to your belly, relieving your muscles and helping keep your baby in a great position for labor and delivery.
What to Look For in a Pregnancy Support Band
Here’s what you should look for in a good pregnancy support band:
Getting the Most Out of Your Pregnancy Support Belt
The #1 priority when buying a pregnancy support band is fit - does the band fit you properly for your pregnancy size? A band that’s too small will hurt - and a belt that’s too large won’t provide the support you need.
Take the time to measure your belly and your torso for a proper fit and you’ll get a much more support and get far greater value out of your purchase!
You may also consider how your band fits and what you can wear with it - one complaint about the It’s You Babe Best Cradle is that the straps show under many shirts (because of the way they criss-cross in the front). I found this to be true, and I couldn’t wear v-neck maternity shirts. To me this was worth it, being free from pain was far more important and I just went with shirts that didn’t have as wide an opening!
If, however, you have a lot of v-neck shirts or other scoop-neck styles, you may want to consider the model that just has a supportive band - the Mini Cradle is inexpensive, and like its “big sister” the Best Cradle, it comes in different sizes so you know you’re getting the right fit. Some mamas get both so they can alternate - having the better support of the Best Cradle while working out, doing housework or yard work, or having to be on their feet for much of the day. When going out for the evening, or when dressing up for important meetings, they opt for the Mini Cradle.
I made the Best Cradle work for me (even going to the office to do prenatal appointments with clients) because I wanted and needed that full support, but it’s important to choose the option or combination of options that works best for you.
When you use your pregnancy support band, make sure you put it on correctly, stretching it from the small of your lower back around your belly to give the most support. Read through the instructions and follow the guidance for getting a good fit.
Finally, actually WEAR your pregnancy support band! I’ve been guilty of leaving mine sitting in the drawer only to go back later and get it because it just hurt too much to go without it…
…it’s much better to use it consistently and enjoy freedom from pain, enjoy good baby positioning, and enjoy your pregnancy to its fullest!