Updated: Jun 5
Pregnancy causes immediate changes in your body. Fluctuating hormones cause laxity in your ligaments so your body can get ready for birth. This means less stability throughout your skeletal system, including your pelvis. At the same time your belly is growing which increases your body weight and alters your center of gravity. All these changes are a lot for your body to adapt to over a short period of time, and sometimes a little external support goes a long way in terms of increasing your tolerance to exercise.
Anyone who loves to run doesn't want to stop just because they're pregnant! Running can also help with nausea from morning sickness, manage emotions from hormones, and keep you healthy during pregnancy. When I became pregnant for the first time with my daughter Stella, I was in the thick of training for the 2017 Boston Marathon. I actually did a 15mile run the morning I found out I was pregnant! I pretty quickly realized my body was changing and had increased need to pee, my pace slowed down, and I would get weird aches and pains through my pelvis and back. I ran the marathon ~4.5 months pregnant and used a pelvis stability belt for comfort and support intermittently throughout training.
I've worked with a lot of pregnant women who want to keep running throughout their pregnancy. I've selected a few pregnancy support belts and belly bands that I think are the best options for ladies who want to keep running while pregnant! I'm not endorsed by or partnered with any of these brands, they are all ones I've found and tried on my own.
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Retails for $49.95
This is usually the belt I recommend to my patients, and the one I used for my 2nd and 3rd pregnancies. It gets great reviews for running and can be worn a couple different ways. I like that it provides support to your pelvis to help with stability without tight compression on your bladder. It can also be worn with one strap higher on your belly depending on what feels the best.
It doesn't provide as much compression to your pelvis as the Serola Belt (below), so people with SIJ dysfunction might not get as much relief. However, it does have a nice supportive fabric that is comfortable for bump support, especially with running!
ProBump Pregnancy Belly Support Band
Retails for $65
Bao Bei Maternity also makes the ProBump Belly Band, which is designed for all 3 trimesters of pregnancy. It's made of Nylon and Lycra (vs Spandex). I haven't tried this one but wanted to include it as an option since the the website boasts "like a sports bra for your belly," so I think it could be a great alternative option for running!
Here's a similar more affordable option on Amazon.
Retails for $44-$53
The Serola belt can be really helpful if you want more support through your SI joint. It doesn't directly support your belly, but it provides compression to your actual pelvis which helps you stabilize your baby bump. This is a good option if you get back or hip pain, pubic symphysis pain, or any sort of pelvic girdle dysfunction. Issues with all of these certainly come and go throughout pregnancy, and this band is great because it's adjustable and can be used when needed.
I loved using this when I wasn't running, but just felt like my body needed the support (like during toddler chasing, or cooking dinner after being on my feet all day!)
The Serola SI Belt is popular among physical therapists and not designed specifically for pregnant women.
All of these options can be handy postpartum too! As your body recovers, you might find belly compression and pelvis support feel really good in the days after childbirth. I don't recommend wearing a brace or belly band all the time, however, because your body can start to rely on external support rather than internal muscle strength and coordination. It's best to use support during physical activity if it helps with comfort, or during daily tasks that cause fatigue or discomfort (walking the dog, standing at work, cooking in the kitchen, gardening, chasing after your other children, etc).
Belly bands and support belts are a great way to make pregnancy more comfortable, and may even help prolong your running days until the little one arrives! As always, talk to your OB provider about your exercise routine for pregnancy, and most importantly - listen to your body!