The Ultimate Guide to Pregnancy and Postpartum Compression Garments: Because Mama Needs a Break!

The Ultimate Guide to Pregnancy and Postpartum Compression Garments: Because Mama Needs a Break!

Pregnancy and postpartum recovery can be tough on the body—like running a marathon while juggling flaming swords. Your pre-pregnancy body will definitely be different from your postpartum body. In just a few short months, you experience weight gain, loose ligaments, and a shifting center of gravity. Pregnant bodies morph and adapt to accommodate the precious little ones they’re growing, and you’ll likely notice changes in how you stand, walk, and get around throughout the day. This can lead to back pain, pelvic pain, and wild changes in balance. It’s no wonder people talk about the pregnant waddle!

A detailed illustration of a pregnant woman’s body changes over time, showing weight gain, loose ligaments, and shifting center of gravity. Various poses depict changes in balance and posture.

No matter where you are in your motherhood journey, compression products can likely help. There’s a smorgasbord of postpartum compression and pregnancy support garments on the market today to help alleviate some of the new aches, pains, and pressures you may experience. These garments are often recommended by physical therapists, prenatal care providers, and experienced moms alike, and they may help reduce back pain and pelvic pain. Some compression garments work by taking pressure off your abdominal muscles, while others help by reducing motion around the sacroiliac joints (the joints that connect the back of the pelvis).

Table of Contents

A set of images showing different types of pregnancy support and postpartum compression garments.

Why Compression Garments Are Your New BFF

Goodbye, Back Pain!

Pregnancy-related lower back pain can be downright debilitating, leading to difficulty with basic daily functions like walking, sleeping, and working. This often worsens as the pregnancy progresses. Moms often report trying a variety of treatments for lower back pain, including physical therapy, topical creams, heat packs, yoga, acupuncture, massage, rest, and chiropractic care. Maternity support garments can be a low-cost, easy-to-use option for relieving the day-to-day strain on your changing body.

Most women report reduced intensity and frequency of lower back discomfort by using pregnancy bands. The extra support seems to allow women to move better, sleep better, and stay more active during pregnancy. Researchers aren’t entirely sure what causes these improvements but think it might have something to do with either the physical back support that the garment provides or the fact that it helps women be more aware of their bodies and, therefore, move more consciously throughout the day.

We’ll give you the lowdown on maternity support bands later in this blog!

The Pelvic Stabilizer: Your Secret Weapon

Up to 50% of women report pelvic pain during pregnancy. This includes pain at the pubic symphysis—the joint in the front of the pelvis—and/or pain at one or both sacroiliac joints on the backside. This pain can be debilitating and limit a person’s ability to sleep or move well during pregnancy.

Many compression garments sit low on the hips, wrapping under the belly and around the lower back. These garments also apply pressure to the sacrum and the pelvic bones, which can help stabilize the sacroiliac joints and pubic symphysis to reduce painful movement at these joints. Check out how you can strengthen your pelvic floor.

Balance: The Struggle is Real

Here’s another surprising but important benefit of maternity support garments: they may help improve balance during pregnancy. Approximately 27% of women fall during pregnancy, probably because of the hormonal and structural changes that can alter a woman’s center of gravity. Falling isn’t good for anyone, but it can be particularly dangerous for a pregnant mama and growing baby. Maternity support may help with balance by improving posture and alignment, increasing body awareness, and helping activate core muscles. Low back pain also increases your risk of falling during pregnancy, so support garments that reduce pain can also decrease fall risk.

Momming Like a Boss: Daily Function Boost

Caring for an older child? Working on your feet? Nesting like mad? Maternity support garments may be effective in reducing the impact of pain in daily activities like sleeping, standing up from sitting, walking, and working. Maternity support belts aren’t specifically recommended for use during sleeping; however, women who have used support belts consistently report reduced pain during the night, even when they aren’t wearing support garments. In general, the more consistently a woman uses the garments, the more benefits she experiences over time.

Remember: Maternity compression garments may reduce discomfort and help you move better while you’re wearing them, but they aren’t a cure-all. For the best effect, they should be used alongside specific strengthening and stabilization exercises. Talk to your healthcare provider for specifics.

Compression Garments 101

Pregnancy support and postpartum recovery garments provide gentle support and relief for expectant mamas and those who have delivered recently. Medical-grade compression garments are made of soft, breathable fabric designed to provide strength where it’s needed most: areas that are weakened during pregnancy, like the lower back and core, and regions that may swell and retain fluid, like the feet and ankles.

A asian pregnant woman using a maternity support band, shown in three stages: putting it on, wearing it during daily activities, and relaxing with reduced back pain.

Types of Compression Garments: More Than Just Belly Bands

Maternity support garments are generally most impactful for people seeking belly support. Many mamas need belly support starting in the middle of pregnancy; this support becomes increasingly important as they enter the third trimester. These garments can be worn as much or as little as you feel is helpful, but shouldn’t be worn full-time or used in place of exercise, as this can cause muscle atrophy.

It may be most beneficial to use your support garment during physical activities, such as walking, exercising, household chores, and other activities that require full-body movement.

Some women say that flexible-fabric garments, such as high-waisted spandex maternity leggings, support their bellies quite well. This type of support is less structured and, therefore, potentially less effective for women with pregnancy-related low back or pelvic pain.

Pregnancy Support Bands

The most common style of maternity support is a breathable, structured pregnancy support band or belt that wraps around the lower belly, lower back, and upper parts of the pelvis. These typically use Velcro adjustments to accommodate a growing baby bump. Maternity care professionals and experienced moms alike often recommend pregnancy support bands.

Pregnant moms typically wear support garments from around three months of pregnancy until birth to alleviate common pregnancy pain and discomfort. The extra weight of your growing belly is supported by your abdomen, back, hips, and pelvis. As a result, lower back pain is common: 30-78% of women experience low back pain during pregnancy. As your hips loosen and your pelvis expands, more pressure is placed on your pelvic ligaments and joints, which may cause sacroiliac (SI) joint pain or round ligament pain, which is a more visceral internal pain.

Although support garments can’t completely eliminate all pregnancy-related discomfort, women move better, feel better, and fall less often when using a pregnancy support item.

Other Kinds of Belly Support

A sacroiliac, or “SI,” belt can be an excellent tool to reduce pelvic girdle pain (pain that occurs as your pelvis shifts during and after pregnancy). However, it is not as versatile as a maternity support band, and many women report that the rigidity of a sacroiliac belt is uncomfortable for periods of extended wear. Everyone is different, so you may want to try a band and a belt to see which is most effective in solving your pelvic girdle pain.

To ensure maternity lumbar support—whether you choose a pair of high-waisted leggings, a support band, or a sacroiliac belt—the support garment should fit so that it provides gentle compression around the pelvic bones and lower back, with a light lift sensation applied to the lower belly for support. Though you may feel immediate relief, many find that using a compression garment for a few hours each day for 2-3 weeks further improves lower back and pelvic pain.

Just as a note: waist trainers/corsets/SPANX and medical-grade postpartum compression garments are NOT the same! They are actually very different and provide very different benefits. Please consult with a professional if you have any questions!

A close-up of compression socks being worn, showing the fit and gradual compression from ankles to calves.

Other Pregnancy Support Garments

Compression Socks

Compression socks (also known as compression or support stockings) are made of soft elastic materials that gently squeeze your legs, ankles, and feet to improve blood vessel function, reduce swelling, and relieve aches, cramps, and pains. As your baby grows, your uterus places more and more pressure on the veins and lymphatic vessels in your pelvis and lower body. Combined with hormonal changes and increased blood volume, this pressure can cause fluid to back up in the legs and pelvis, where it naturally pools under the influence of gravity.

Why Should I Wear Compression Socks?

During pregnancy, you might notice swelling in your limbs, varicose veins in your legs, or swelling and pressure in your pelvis. Mild to moderate swelling during pregnancy is extremely common. You can usually manage it with lifestyle strategies (such as moderate exercise and increased water consumption) and support from compression socks.

Severe swelling can be a sign of something serious. If you’re experiencing severe swelling, consult with your healthcare provider.

By applying supportive pressure to your veins, compression socks improve circulation, which can reduce the risk of blood clots, varicose veins, and other circulatory issues.

How Should Compression Socks Fit?

The fit of compression socks should be snug but still comfortable. They should have gradual compression, with the most pressure applied around the ankles and the least at the top of the sock around the upper calf. Compression socks should feel tight compared to your normal socks; however, if the compression socks are pinching at the knee or leaving deep indentations in your skin, you may want to try another size or style. A poor fit can make the swelling even worse!

Do Compression Socks Keep Me Healthier for the Long Term?

Yes, they can. Pregnant women have a 4-5x higher risk of developing a blood clot than women who are not pregnant. Your genetics contribute to your risk of developing blood clots, so if you have a personal or family history of blood clots, you should speak to your healthcare provider about ways to reduce your risk during pregnancy.

Though a pair of compression socks won’t eliminate your risk of developing a blood clot, they do help support your veins, which improves your blood flow. Moving blood can’t clot as easily. When combined with moderate exercise, like walking, compression can support your circulatory system and reduce swelling.

Compression socks can also help keep varicose veins at bay. They help support the vessels that might be buckling under the pressure of pregnancy. These can become uncomfortable and may worsen as you age. Varicose veins don’t usually go away on their own, so it’s important to do what you can to prevent them from worsening during this time of increased pressure.

Postpartum Compression Garments

You’ve given birth and are—once again—adapting to new changes in your body. Thankfully, there are postpartum support garments designed specifically to help you heal after delivery.

Medical-grade postpartum compression garments (or postpartum recovery/support garments) provide extra support and tighten the areas most affected by pregnancy. They are especially important if you experience diastasis recti. Postpartum people can typically begin wearing these garments one week after birth and can continue using them until they are about four months postpartum.

A busy mom using a maternity support garment while engaging in various activities like carrying a child, doing chores, and working at a desk.

Benefits of Postpartum Compression Garments

After giving birth, most new mothers will experience soreness, abdominal pain, swelling, and some loss of bladder control. Your body will start to regulate and recover gradually, but this process takes time and proper care.

The gentle compression and stabilization that postpartum recovery garments provide can cue major muscle groups to activate and engage effectively in the recovery period. Light compression can have a huge impact on overall well-being and recovery by alleviating pain, reducing swelling and postpartum bleeding, and more. With proper use, compression garments can help you recover more quickly so you can establish a healthy daily routine with your new baby.

Postpartum compression garments are specifically designed by medical professionals. Although they may look like shapewear, they are not the same, nor are they intended to help mothers “bounce back” after giving birth. (Don’t even get us started on that.)

Watch: Tips for Using Compression Garments

Check out this helpful video on how to make the most of your compression garments during pregnancy and postpartum recovery:

Pregnancy Support & Postpartum Compression Through Insurance

Pregnancy support and postpartum compression garments are available through Preggo Leggings and may be covered under your current insurance plan!

All of the garments we provide have been designed by medical experts to ensure real health benefits. These medical-grade devices most often require a prescription from your doctor for insurance to cover the costs. If you think pregnancy support or postpartum compression could help you during your motherhood journey, be sure to fill out our quick and easy Qualify Through Insurance Form.


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