It's Not A Straightjacket
Sure, I'm enormous and sure, I can barely walk, but a belly support system? Isn't that a tad much?
I scoffed at her suggestion, but she insisted.
"No, really, Chaunie," she explained patiently. "It's not as bad you think — they're actually comfortable and can really help women like you." (By which, she means, enormous-bellied women who happen to measure six weeks ahead of their gestational age.)
I started asking my fellow preggos if they had ever used a belly support system and much to my surprise, I found that they were surprisingly popular. OK, so maybe my doctor was on to something. So I did a little digging on some of the best belly support systems for pregnancy out there.
Photo credit: Blanqi.com
The Blanqi products seem to have their own dedicated following amongst my fellow pregnant ladies. Over and over, I encountered fierce loyalty to the Blanqi products, with some mothers claiming they were the best invention ever for pregnancy. I was really curious to see if the great Blanqi could tame my wild belly, so when I won one in a giveaway, I couldn't wait to try it out. My Blanqi made its grand debut on a family trip to the zoo when I was almost 33 weeks pregnant and I have to admit, the Blanqi really did save my life. I'm about 98 percent sure that I would have given up in a crumpled pregnant heap in the middle of the zoo had I not had my Blanqi backing me up. Well, from the front, that is. It was surprisingly comfortable, kept me cool when the effort of pushing three kids in a stroller got to me and, most importantly, held my belly up and my back muscles in so I could stand up and convince my husband to buy us all ice cream. Priorities, people. (Blanqi.com, $68)
Photo credit: The Belly Bra
The Belly Bra is similar to the Blanqi in providing all-over abdominal and lower back support. It looks like a tank top and helps to lift the weight of your stomach off your pelvis, which is something I have been in desperate need of in this pregnancy. The sciatic nerve pain has been terrible. The Belly Bra may be a good option for expecting mothers who would like that full coverage at a more affordable price. (The Belly Bra, $39)
Photo credit: Babybellyband.com
The Belly Band is actually just what it sounds like — an actual band that straps across the bottom of a woman's belly to provide abdominal support and, according to the website, also relieve hernial discomfort. It can be used from the very beginning of pregnancy (hello, round ligament pain) and will literally grow right alongside of you. The Belly Band comes in all sizes and colors and features many different "add-ons," for additional support and pregnancy conditions. (Belly Band, $40)
Photo credit: Prenatalcradle.com
OK, as intense as this belly system looks, it's actually the one that my OB recommended for me because it boasts some serious support action. It has the belly support, the back support and it has shoulder straps to keep it all balanced and comfortable. Although it looks like it has a lot going on, the Prenatal Cradle actually leaves a lot of room, so it wouldn't add to the pregnancy heat during the summer months and it's perfect for exercising... if you're into that sort of thing. (Egan Medical, $38)
Photo credit: Bellybandit.com
The Belly Bandit products are extremely sneaky — almost all of the products have dual action purposes. For instance, their belly support system, Flawless Belly, also includes special anti-stretch mark cream to help keep your skin supple and smooth. It doesn't offer as much intense support as some of the other systems, so it is more for women with smaller bumps or those early on in the pregnancy just looking for a smoothing undergarment. What I love about the Belly Bandit line, however, is that they also offer some great postpartum products to help keep that famous "jelly belly" in line and promote and support postpartum healing and recovery. (Belly Bandit, $50)