It’s your right to feel confident and sexy all along your pregnancy journey, but you shouldn’t feel pressured to fit into certain outfits that were your pre-pregnancy favorites.
As your fetus grows in your womb, the comfort and safety of you and your unborn child are of paramount importance.
Thus you can wear shapewear while pregnant but there are important issues that you’ll need to consider.
1. Shapewear Use Depends on Pregnancy Trimester
In your first trimester, your baby bump is hardly noticeable and gynecologists and other medical experts haven’t advised against you wearing mild compression shapewear.
Although the rate has been declining, 45% of women in the US had unplanned pregnancies in 2011. Even if a lady was actively seeking pregnancy, you need to consider the fact that home-based pregnancy tests are known to be sometimes inaccurate. Even if a lady was actively seeking pregnancy, you need to consider the fact that home-based pregnancy tests are known to be sometimes inaccurate.
Many Women Don’t Know They’re Pregnant at 6 Weeks
This causes a situation where most of these women still don’t know that they’re expectant well into the second month, until the fetus’ heartbeat makes them curious, or until they miss their period for the second month running.
If that is your case, you can’t be faulted for continuing to wear your favorite belly shapewear unaware that your womb is bumping. But nature knows how to take care of itself. In the first two months of pregnancy, the uterus is still small and properly shielded by the pubic bone. Thus the pressure of shapewear will be entirely on the pelvis. Besides, the embryo and the subsequent fetus are always protected by a 5 cm to 25 cm layer of amniotic fluid in the uterus, to cushion her against external pressure.
The above facts notwithstanding, in case you already know that you’re heavy, then you should consider wearing mild compression body shapers and not high compression ones. This will ensure that you’re comfortable as your body goes through changes such as nausea, abnormal fatigue, feeling bloated, and so on. You also need to avoid shapewear with reinforcements like side boning, and a tight hook and eye closure.
The shapewear should be made of soft fabric and with more spandex to ensure moderate compression, stretchability, and breathability. It should also have a good waistband and leg bands, to ensure that it doesn’t roll down your waist and up your legs, respectively. Maidenform Women’s Cover Your Bases Smoothing Shapewear stands out from the pack for this and I had an awesome experience with it during my first pregnancy.
2. Regular shapewear vs maternity shapewear
Ever since Sarah Blakely figured out that she could cut the feet off a pantyhose and end up with a slimming undergarment, many women, celebrities included, have made body shapers a must-have daily undergarment. Shapewear helps to smooth your lumps such as the tummy, waist, thighs, and to tone your behind, but it would be sarcastic to say that you should do all this when you’re 30 weeks pregnant.
Enter pregnancy shapewear:
Regular shapewear is designed to compress and control your belly besides shaping all the other areas that you wish. Pregnancy shapewear, on the other hand, will free your baby bump while slimming and supporting your other desired areas. It’s still the brainchild of Sarah Blakely, a maverick who never stops thinking unconventionally. She developed Spanx pregnancy shapewear- Spanx Power Mama Shaper when she was once pregnant, and perhaps she thought of cutting out the tummy from the shapewear she had cut from a pantyhose!
Pregnancy body shaper compresses and defines your hips, thighs, and butt, but the tummy section is a mesh panel. This support makes you feel more comfortable, plus the shapewear fabric is elastic so that it stretches with your bulging pregnant belly.
Best Shapewear For Pregnancy
The pregnancy shapewear that has been the moms’ favorite this year is the Motherhood Maternity Women’s Secret Fit Shaper Panty. This is your choice of support underwear if you want to attend baby showers- it smoothes your bottom, hips, thighs, and belly. It also relieves pressure from your back, perfect for you if you’re experiencing back pain. And how do you like the rubbing of thighs when you’ve added pregnancy weight? This thing will smooth them nicely. Just ensure that you don’t wear them the whole day because you will generate uncomfortable heat.
Pregnancy shapewear is part of maternity shapewear, a range of undergarments designed to provide support, comfort, and safety to pregnant moms. Besides the above shapewear design, maternity shapewear includes:
a.) Maternity Belts
As a mom-to-be, have you ever got the wild idea that you can have a carrier for your baby while she’s still in there?
That’s essentially what the maternity support belt does. Also called a pregnancy support belt or belly band, it supports your lower belly to help reduce the discomfort of the heavy womb and to decrease the pressure on your lower back and pelvic girdle, relieving pain in these areas. The weight of your growing baby can put too much pressure on your back but the mild support of a belly band will improve your posture and make walking and other physical activities more enjoyable and comfortable.
NeoTech Care Pregnancy Support Maternity Belt has a Velcro pad so long that it will still fit you even if you buy the wrong size. The curved design of the belt will lift and support your abdomen and waist, relieving pressure on your back, hips, sciatic nerves, and pelvis. This will also improve blood and lymph circulation as well as reduce bladder pressure and the need to pee all the time.
However, there are risks associated with prolonged use of belly bands and it’s important to note that you should not wear them for too many hours in a row. The risks include weakening of abdominal muscles, impeded blood circulation, and indigestion. Physiotherapists and compression garment inventors like Sinead O’Donovan advice is that you should wear a pregnancy belly band for just two to three hours a day.
Once you deliver your baby, a post-pregnancy belly band will help your abdominal muscles to recover faster, more so if you develop diastasis recti.
b.) Maternity Leggings
Maternity leggings or compression socks help to prevent lymph (body fluid) retention in your legs when you are traveling or sitting down for long. They massage your leg muscles and gently push lymph to flow back to the central circulation.
c.) Maternity Underwear
If you have a pre-pregnancy normal weight BMI of 18.5-24.9, you can expect to gain 25 to 35 pounds by the time you get to your third trimester. You may no longer fit in your underpants and that’s why you need a bunch of new maternity underwear that are more lightweight, breathable, and elastic than your regular innerwear. Most maternity support underwear are low-rise, which means that they reach under the bump to fully expose your belly. Others fully cover the belly and are essentially the pregnancy shapewear. There is a special type that features an incontinence pad.
3. Do’s And Don’ts of Wearing Shapewear When You’re Pregnant
DOs of Wearing Shapewear During Pregnancy
a.) Get the right shapewear for your baby bump
When you’re expectant, your pelvis expands and you also increase in weight. This means that most of your pregnancy innerwear won’t fit you anymore until a couple of months after you deliver. So you shouldn’t gauge your size of shapewear based on your pre-pregnancy underwear. To know your correct shapewear size, use a tape measure to measure the circumference all around from your lower back to under your belly. Different brands will have different sizing charts but for NeoTech Care Pregnancy Support Maternity Belt, a lower belly circumference of 38 to 45 inches or 97 to 114 cm is a medium size. You can see more sizes on this page.
b.) Engage in moderate exercise
Shapewear should not replace a mild exercise routine that is needed to keep fit and strengthen your core muscles as you go through your pregnancy term. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, you should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. These activities include gardening, laundry work, and brisk walking.
This should be backed by enough drinking water and a balanced diet.
DON’Ts of Wearing Shapewear During Pregnancy
a.) Don’t wear shapewear to hide your pregnancy
Stories abound that celebrities such as the Kardashians use shapewear to hide their early pregnancies and steal the show. But you shouldn’t buy that BS.
Shapewear that puts too much pressure on you will constrict important body processes and it’s not worth the glamor.
b.) Don’t wear it for too long
Overuse of shapewear and belly belts can weaken your back and abdominal muscles as they become over-reliant on external support. Also, in the warmer months, you know how pregnancy makes you toasty- wearing such an undergarment all day long will just make you uncomfortably hot.
c.) Don’t wear high compression shapewear or waist trainers
Waist trainers are a no-go zone when you’re in the family way. They can prevent proper blood flow, make your legs swell with fluid, and can even damage your internal organs and the growing fetus.
If your maternity or regular shapewear impedes your breathing, or it’s cinching in the wrong areas, then it’s too tight for you.