RUNNING DURING PREGNANCY IS TRICKY
Some days during pregnancy, I'd wake up with shooting sciatica pain or round ligament pain, and other days running would feel easy and enjoyable. There were definite ups and downs! When I began feeling the round ligament pain, I did some research, and found a lot of runners (including Paula Radcliffe) wore a maternity support belt while running. (Here's a great throwback interview with her and Kara Goucher during their pregnancies :) )
I bought my awesome maternity band, and it was such a good decision! I believe it enabled me to run longer into my pregnancy than I would have otherwise, and also, gave me piece of mind that I was doing what was best for the babe. Everything was snug and supported!
When to start wearing the maternity support belt
I started wearing my belly band on my runs around 18 weeks pregnant. I wasn't noticeably bigger to most people, but I definitely was beginning to feel the extra weight in my front, so it was more of a comfort thing. It really helps support the pregnancy weight gain in the belly area! I wore the belt during most of my runs. I didn't wear it for all of them, because sometimes I just didn't feel I needed it, but if I woke up one day feeling extra sore or "loose", then I definitely wore it.
What does "loose" mean?
Ligaments stretch during pregnancy to make room for the growth of the baby, so as your body does this, things become more tender, and exercises like running can easily irritate the areas supporting this weight. For me, it was my hip flexors and back. I found the maternity support belt really helped with this irritation.
How to wear the maternity support belt
The Gabrialla belt I have is velcro, and it adjusts on both sides. As your belly grows, you can adjust the side straps to make it more comfortable. Some prefer it over their shirt, but I preferred it under. You can kind of tell in the picture below where it is. I tightened it as tight as I could while still being comfortable. I fastened it right below where my belly starts to go out. Some prefer it a little higher up, but I liked it lower. I'll also point out it helps prevents you from having a muffin top on the sides since it just sucks everything in, ha! But, that's neither here nor there ;)
You might need the maternity support belt for more than running.
Going on a hike, standing all day, doing a lot of moving around, and even at work. I have friends who are nurses and on their feet all day for their job, so the belly band really comes in handy for them. I also wore mine a lot towards the end of my pregnancy when I would go on long walks and everything just kind of felt sore and heavy.
What does the support band not do?
It doesn't completely keep you from feeling discomfort. Pregnancy and running is just an uncomfortable endeavor, no matter what you do. It did, however, allow me and others I know to run farther and longer in our pregnancies, which definitely helps when returning to running postpartum. It was a great tool that helped keep little niggles at bay as we grew our babes!