Pregnancy pain is a common experience for many women, but it can often have a negative impact on their work lives and quality of life. Remedies for pelvic pain and low back pain during pregnancy often focus on water exercise and physiotherapy, which are not always practical solutions, but a growing number of clinical studies also support the role maternity support belts can play in reducing this pain.
There are two common types of pain during pregnancy:
Pelvic girdle pain
Pelvic girdle pain is defined as pain in the symphysis and/or between the posterior iliac crest and the gluteal fold, particularly in the vicinity of the sacroiliac joint.
There are several causes for this, but they tend to stem from hormonal and mechanical changes in the body, as internal organs move and ligaments soften to make room for the birth of the baby. During pregnancy, an increase in the hormone relaxin can cause increased laxity of the ligaments of the pelvic girdle, with the resulting increase in range of movement in the pelvic joint causing pain.
While typically mild to moderate, pelvic girdle pain is reported as the most common reason for pregnant women taking sick leave, with studies reporting a prevalence of 4%-76.4% in women during pregnancy
Low back pain
Often beginning in the second trimester, low back pain is defined as pain between the costal margins and the inferior gluteal folds, which may be associated with pain referred down to the leg. Usually accompanied by painful limitation of movement, low back pain often interferes with quality of life and daily living.
The cause of low back pain is related to additional stress placed on the back as a result of changes in the body during pregnancy. It is normal to gain 20-40 pounds in weight during pregnancy, and as the abdominal muscles stretch, they lose their ability to maintain posture, causing the lower back to support the increased weight of the torso. Increased axial loading results in increased spine compression, which leads to pain.
Low back pain is often considered “normal” in pregnancy, with studies reporting a prevalence of 50%- 71.3% in pregnant women. As with pelvic girdle pain, low back pain is another leading cause for pregnant women seeking sick leave.
How a maternity support belt can help reduce pregnancy pain
A maternity belt is a supportive garment designed to be worn during pregnancy to provide support to the lumbar spine or pelvic regions, thereby helping to relieve pain.
The intended effects include:
Compressing the body to increase proprioception
- Reducing mechanical loading of the localized weight
- Stabilising the lumbar spine and pelvis
- Stimulating the action of the muscles around the abdomen, spine and pelvic floor
A range of recent studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of maternity belts in reducing both pelvic girdle pain and low back pain, as well as providing improved stability and reducing the risk of falling during pregnancy.
Convenient, safe, low cost, and easily accessible for pregnant women, it is common for specialists to recommend maternity belts, especially alongside other therapies.