What is a prenatal cradle?
Imagine you're a woman in the last trimester of your pregnancy. One day, you waddle into a store, say Target, and find a golden lamp in the middle of the parking lot on the way in. Carefully, you squat down to pick up the lamp, and as your hands make contact, a genie pops out! As the story goes, this genie tells you that 3 wishes will be granted to you.
As a pregnant woman in the laster trimester of her pregnancy, likely your three wishes are something along the lines of:
1. A healthy baby
2. To be more comfortable during these last few weeks
3. Not to poop on the table during delivery
Unfortunately, there are no genies who grant wishes like this in reality. However, while wishes 1 and 3 are more difficult to control, the second wish has numerous offerings on the market that may seem like a dream come true to a pregnant woman. Among these, are prenatal cradles.
A prenatal cradle is a device that a mother-to-be-wears during her everyday life intended to improve her physical comfort and posture. There are several types of cradles on the market, and each is unique in the way it is worn and the problems it aims to address.
A woman's body goes through tremendous changes during pregnancy. Not only does the obvious growing belly put a strain on a woman's back, but some of the hormonal changes that support the pregnancy and prepare Mom for birth wreak havoc on the body as well. Sciatica, Bursitis, Round Ligament Pain, and Incontinence are all common complaints from expectant mothers.
Pregnancy also affects a woman's normal posture. To accommodate a growing front side, a woman's spine naturally begins curving posteriorly, or backward, to help keep Mom from tipping over too easily. Hormones make the hips soften and widen in preparation for birth, and breasts become larger, sometimes by multiple cup sizes in a short period of time. All of these changes cause posture issues and subsequently aches and pains that aren't very enjoyable to deal with.
A secondary benefit of a prenatal cradle is a smoothing effect under maternity clothes. They are kind of like Spanx for pregnant women. Not everyone has a smooth, perky basketball tummy during the pregnancy experience, but the cradles can help lift and smooth for a nicer looking bump. Some designs even hoist the breast up a little bit. Perhaps a little lift in the chest can lift Mom's spirit, if only temporarily.
What are the alternatives to cradles?
Cradles are not a required undergarment during pregnancy. In fact, many women don't prefer to wear them, and that is fine. There are plenty of alternatives to cradles that can promote some of the comfort benefits of a cradle, including but not limited to:
1. Doing yoga
2. Posture exercises
3. Adequate rest
4. Hot and cold therapy
Not every pregnant woman requires a prenatal cradle. Some only need to wear one during physical activities, like running, only. For the women who find themselves wondering if a cradle will help their comfort level though, the answer is a resounding "yes".
A cradle will help with all of the physical, postural, and smoothing aspects as mentioned above. They also come in a variety of styles and price points. With online shopping and access to reviews from women who have purchased and used these cradles, it is easy to find exactly what you need.
Prenatal cradles are not necessarily for use during pregnancy only. Many mothers enjoy using them for support after birth, especially they had a C-Section. Many experts encourage wearing a compression wrap after childbirth to help smooth and tone the abdominal muscles faster and more efficiently.
The best prental cradle belts
1. It’s You Babe Maternitiy Cradle
This full coverage cradle is the most popular of its kind. It features a wide belt that goes under the bump and around the back, as well as shoulder straps that crisscross at the chest for maximum support. The size can be adjusted on the belt with hook and eye closures, and the shoulder straps are like traditional bra straps. This cradle, while popular, is on the expensive end of the price spectrum, listed at $75 on itsyoubabe.com.
I buy a lot of things from Amazon and almost never write reviews, but I feel compelled to praise this product! I purchased this cradle while 27 weeks pregnant with twins. Prior to my purchase, I was in extreme pain in my hips, legs, glutes, etc. to the point where it was painful to walk, roll over in bed or put pants on. I even had to use a motorized scooter sometimes when shopping in big stores. I ordered this product and started wearing it the day I received it. I felt instant relief, which, at first, I thought was all in my head. That evening, i could move around in ways I hadn't been able to in weeks. I can run errands, go on car rides, sit at my desk and walk around without being in excruciating pain. I have now been wearing it for over a week and I think it is the only way I will get through these next couple months of pregnancy. It is amazing, and I'm so happy I found it.
2. It’s You Baby Mini Cradle
From the same brand as the aforementioned cradle, the mini cradle is a more minimalist design that includes a belt only. Its made of the same elastic material and adjustable with hook and eye closures like the full cradle of the same brand. Fewer bells and whistles mean a lower price for this style of prenatal cradle, as this is listed on the same site for $30.
bought this for a friend, fellow hairdresser. She says it helps her back pain and regrets it when she forgets to wear it to work, which isn't very often. Although it is uncomfortable to sit in, we stand all day and it really helps her. She is very tiny so I bought the extra small and it fits perfect. Glad I bought it for her because her back was killing her and when your pregnant you really don't want to spend money on things you'll wear for the last 2 months. I used one similar to this but it had Velcro and even since I used it for a short time it was helpful. The Velcro didn't hold up taking it on and off so I figured the hooks would be better. Bottom line is she is grateful I bought it for her.
3. NEOtech Care Maternity Belt
This sturdy belt style prenatal cradle features a wide strap under the belly in addition to a thinner strap over the top. The back of the belt is a mesh fabric that is breathable and stretchy. The belts and straps are adjustable with velcro. This product sits at a nice price point at $25.99 on amazon.com.
My regret is not ordering this sooner. And not having it on now. I was in a rush and completely forgot it. I am tempted to be late and turn around to get it. It has made such a difference in the back pain I had. I seriously love it and can not recommend it enough. My boyfriend laughs at me when I'm wearing it, because it does look kind of silly but trust me it's worth it, and you can't see it at all under your clothes. You can't beat the price either!
4. Original Prenatal Cradle
Potentially the product that started it all, the Original Prenatal Cradle is manufactured by a company that has been making maternity wear since 1987. The design is very similar to the Its You Babe brand cradle, with a few minor differences. First, the belt and straps are not adjustable. Second, the belt is not as wide as the other style. Lastly, there is a difference in price, as the Original is $60 on amazon.com.
I work a 24 hr job and this really makes a difference. Helps to save my back. I’m 5’3 148 and the small is perfect.
5. LaRosa Medical Maternity Belt
A belt/band intended for use both during and after pregnancy. It receives overwhelmingly positive reviews on amazon.com, and costs only $16.45!
Not 100% sure if it helped with my rib pain during pregnancy, but it seemed to some. Overall comfy and easy to put on. Good quality.
6. Baby Belly Band
A belt/band style prenatal cradle with additional, removable groin support straps. This style is particularly helpful for women with bladder, pelvic, or genital prolapse during or after pregnancy. It can also help to remedy the infamous "lightening crotch" that so many late-term expectant mothers feel as the baby's head moves down into the pelvis.
It's been about a month since I ordered the belly band and the groin straps. I was originally looking just for the groin support and after some research I decided to give this product a shot. Honestly, I wasn't looking forward to the band around me. I really dislike bulky gear and I thought it'd be uncomfortable. This is my third pregnancy and I never wore these things before, but the varicose veins in my groin area this time around are much worse and made me look for the solution. I ended up ordering a medium in both products to be on the safe side in case I gain more weight. I am 5.7 and I was 130 before pregnancy.
7. JILL & JOEY maternity band
This thick and wide maternity band is adjustable. There is velcro in the back to adjust the size. The fabric is also breathable, and the band goes under the bump and almost covers the navel for support. This one is a good buy for under $20 on amazon.com and has many positive customer reviews.
This helped so much! I cleaned my entire house while wearing this and no belly pain or back pain at all. It made me feel like superwoman! It also helped with the itchy skin pulling feeling at the top of my belly. I was worried I would be hot but it does as it says and breaths well. We haven't gotten into the super hot months yet but I am so glad I bought the Jill and Joey belt vs. the others. I will be recommending this to all my pregnant friends.
8. High Performance Pelvic Maternity Support
Different from other cradles, belts, and bands, this style is a kind of a shapewear and belt hybrid. A stretchy, elastic bodice goes over your bra and underwear. Additional elastic straps are then secured to the garment to promote support in the areas needed. The straps are adjustable with hook and eye closures. This particular product is the most expensive belly cradle on the list, listed for $89.95 on amazon.com.
I suffered from terrible groin pain in my third trimester. My physical therapist suggested this along with some daily exercises and it was great! It not only helped with my groin pain, but also just felt awesomely supportive for my back and belly. I had tried support belts, but they are useless if you try to sit down. They shift and become very uncomfortable when you sit or change positions. This garment is different as there is nothing to bunch under your belly. Added bonus - it also gave a smooth appearance under clothes - kind of like pregnant Spanx 😀 I would definitely recommmend this - it’s worth the price.
9. Belly Bandit Upsie Belly Pregnancy Support Band
Another popular brand for under the belly cradle support. Similar to other products listed, this elastic band is adjustable on the front of the body with velcro. This brand is available online, as well as in stores such as Target.
I'm 22 weeks pregnant with my second child. I'm not sure how I survived my first pregnancy without this! It is such a relief, not only for my back, but for my umbilical hernia that my first child gave me :). But honestly, it is SO worth the money. You won't regret this purchase. Just for sizing help- Pre-pregnancy I was 139 lbs, 5'6", and now I am about 149 lbs at 22 weeks pregnant, and the medium fits me perfectly. I believe it will definitely last throughout my entire pregnancy.
10. Ingrid & Isabel Original Bellaband
An elastic band that goes over both pants and the bump. It can be worn at full size, covering the entire bump and ending just under the bust. Or, it can be folded in half and worn under the bump like a support belt. Perhaps one of the more universal kinds of pregnancy support on the market, one band runs $25 on amazon.com.
I have 3 Bella Bands & only one pair of maternity pants. These are lifesavers!!! I have 1 Target brand one (BeBand) and it doesn't even compare to the real Bella Band, as it doesn't have silicone band to seal to pants. Buy the real deal.
How to wear the prenatal cradle belts for support
How to wear the prenatal cradle depends on the unique style of the device and the overall goal of wearing it. Ensuring that proper sizing measurements have been made according to manufacturer guidelines is important. Though most prenatal cradles are adjustable in size to accommodate growing bellies, its good to make sure you buy the right size to optimize comfort.
During pregnancy, women typically wear prenatal cradles that are bands, belts, or cradles. Bands are either elastic only or a combination of elastic and velcro for size and position adjustment. Belts can go either under the bump, over and under the bump, and many even have detachable shoulder straps that can be worn. Full on cradles are very specific pieces of equipment that include a bra and/or belly contraption meant to maximize support.
After birth bands, belts, and cradles can be used pretty much the same way as during pregnancy. There are specially designed post-natal compression wraps, particularly for C-Section Moms.
Belly Bandit Corset
This is a corset style post-natal compression device. If you have a C-Section, chances are something similar to this will be offered to you in the hospital to add support to your belly skin that might be hanging over your incision. Side note: if you're wearing pretty panties and pumps with your corset post-partum, you're definitely doing better than the rest of us!
Belly Bandit Post Maternity Recovery Briefs
This pair of post-natal underwear is supportive and comfortable after a C-Section. They feature a high waist and hook and eye closures down the front ending just above the public bone. This makes the undies both adjustable and much more comfortable to get on and off to go to the bathroom.
Pregnancy is a time of tremendous joy, but also discomfort. While every wish of an expecting woman cannot be granted by genies, some of the discomforts of pregnancy can be alleviated with the purchase of a proper fitting prenatal cradle. If you choose a style and fit that is right for you, it just might feel like a dream come true!