This post has been quality checked in line with our Editorial and Research Policy.

Is it Safe to Sleep With a Maternity Support Belt? (9 Tips)

Stephanie-Abi-Zeid.
  • This article has been written, researched, and medically reviewed by Stephanie Abi Zeid (embryologist, andrologist, B.S, MSc) for factual accuracy.

A maternity support belt (also known as a ‘belly belt’ or a ‘pregnancy belt’) wraps around your lower back and abdomen to reduce the pressure and increase comfort.

But is it safe to sleep with a maternity support belt on?

It is not safe to sleep in a maternity support belt all night due to the risk of decreasing the blood flow to the fetus – especially when the belt is too tight or worn when in the back sleeping position. Do not sleep in a maternity support belt for more than 2-3 hours continuously.

The rest of this article explains how you can sleep in a maternity support belt more safely by sticking to some guidelines, whilst also exploring some other tips to help you sleep better whilst pregnant.

(Always talk to your doctor, midwife, physiotherapist, or another suitably qualified individual before sleeping in a maternity belt or applying any of the tips outlined in this article).

Related: 12 natural thought and relaxation strategies to help you sleep better now.

How to Sleep in a Maternity Support Belt Safely

Although sleeping in a maternity support belt is not recommended, you can sleep in the belt for up 2-3 hours if you stick to the following guidelines:

1: Wear a Suitable Belt

It’s essential to find a comfortable and adjustable belly belt that properly fits your belly’s circumference to effectively distribute the weight of your growing baby, as follows:

1.1: Choose the Correct Size

Wearing an appropriate maternity belt in the correct size holds your belly up whilst keeping your pelvic joints closer together – this helps with balance, posture, and makes it easier to walk without waddling.

Some brands have a standard size, whilst others have different sizes based on how far you are along in your pregnancy. 

Therefore, always check the size chart of the brand that you are buying – some brands size by weight, while others go by your clothing size – and try the belt on before your final purchase. 

It’s best to measure yourself right above your hips and beneath your baby bump to determine your right size – be careful not to measure too tightly.

If the maternity belt is not one size fits all, then you will have to buy a couple of different sizes for your second and third trimester, as your body undergoes significant changes. 

1.2: Select the Best Type of Support

Maternity belts are available in three main types to meet the needs and requirements of every mother-to-be:  

  • Regular maternity belt: consists of a simple one-piece pelvic wrap, which is ideal for women who need light or medium support and are carrying a single fetus.  
  • Extra support belt: features an extra strap that goes across your belly to provide additional support and comfort – ideal for women who stand on their feet all day. 
  • Full prenatal cradle: distributes the weight of pregnancy to the upper back and shoulders for the ultimate support – perfect for women who are pregnant with multiples. 

Some models even offer additional features such as extra straps, padded backs, pockets to insert heat or cold packs, and different types of fastening like Velcro closures or hook and eye. 

So make sure you choose the type that suits you best in terms of comfort, support, and practicality.  

1.3: Choose the Most Comfortable Material 

Maternity belts are usually made up of synthetic fibers such as nylon and polyester, which are lightweight, easy to clean, and resistant to dirt.

However, these fibers can cause you to sweat immediately as they resist moisture, which increases skin sensitivity and discomfort, especially if you toss and turn a lot when you sleep.  

Therefore, focus on the softness and breathability of the belt, as this is quite essential to minimize skin irritation and discomfort. 

2: Wear the Belt Snugly – But Not Too Tight

Pregnancy belts are designed to snuggle and cradle the belly for support.

Be careful not to wear the maternity belt too tight, as this can cause compression on your abdomen and bad blood circulation – which in turn can cause indigestion, heartburn, trouble breathing, and high blood pressure.

Remember that you should be able to breathe and move comfortably whilst wearing a suitable maternity belt. 

3: Don’t Wear the Belt for More Than 2-3 Hours Continuously

Avoid wearing the maternity belt all night as you sleep because it may decrease blood flow to the abdomen and the developing baby if worn for too long.

Furthermore, prolonged use of a maternity belt can lead to reliance and can make the belt less effective at relieving pelvic pain [1].  

Therefore, use a maternity belt for no more than 2-3 hours at a time to prevent over-dependence and counterproductivity.  

4: Strengthen Your Core Muscles Without the Belt

Wearing a maternity belt tightly for too long can weaken your core muscles due to the muscle fibers switching off and not being used fully.

Complement the use of a maternity belt with daily exercises to strengthen your core muscles during and post-pregnancy. 

Daily exercise such as yoga, pilates, walking, and swimming helps you maintain a healthy weight, and build muscle and ligament strength to prepare your body for childbirth. 

Many women use a pregnancy belt whilst exercising to avoid injuries because the belt supports the pregnancy weight and helps with balance and posture, which stabilizes the pelvis and lowers the risk of falls [2]. 

However, you need to break your reliance on the belt for support because constant use can cause negative effects on your body’s ability to circulate your blood, which may lead to pain and heartburn.  

So, focus on developing your own core strength to support your belly through exercise and only use a maternity support belt as an extra aid.   

5: Sleep On Your Left Side – Never On Your Back

Sleep on your left side when pregnant, as this position allows for the optimal flow of blood and nutrients to your placenta and developing fetus [3].

This position also improves kidney function, which allows for better waste elimination and less water retention.  

If you are not a side sleeper, then give your body some time to adjust to sleeping on the side as it is very natural to feel uncomfortable for the first few nights – you may prefer to sleep on a softer mattress to help alleviate the pressure on your hips and shoulders.

If you are a stomach sleeper, you will realize that it could become hard and uncomfortable to sleep on your stomach as your breasts and belly get bigger over the months – especially during your third trimester.  

If you are a back sleeper, then you must avoid sleeping on your back during pregnancy – especially during the second and third trimester – because this position can harm your baby. 

When you sleep on your back, the entire weight of your growing uterus and baby exerts pressure on the vena cava – the vein that carries blood between your heart and lower body – which can reduce the blood flow to the fetus, giving your baby less oxygen and nutrients. 

The weight pressure on your back can also exacerbate backaches and indigestion, and can lower your blood pressure, making you feel dizzy due to hypotension. 

Sleeping in a maternity belt can cause a lot of compression on your abdomen, especially when you lie on your back.

6: Sleep With Extra Pillows 

Sleeping with strategically placed pillows can help to alleviate the pressure in your joints and muscles both during and after pregnancy.

Choose different types of small pillows and play around with them to find a combination that makes you sleep with less tossing and turning. 

You can also opt for pregnancy body pillows, which come in a variety of shapes and sizes to offer support and pressure relief to the entire body during all stages of pregnancy. 

Here are 5 types of pillows that you can use during and after pregnancy to keep your belly lifted and sleep more comfortably:  

i) Small Body Pillows – Ideal for Back Support

Place an ergonomic pillow behind your hips or under your legs to elevate your abdomen and support your back. 

You can also tuck a small body pillow between your bent knees whilst sleeping on your side to relieve pressure from your lower back. 

Tucking another pillow behind your back will help you maintain the side sleeping position, which is healthier and more comfortable for you and your baby.  

 ii) U-shaped Body Pillows – Simultaneously Supports the Back and Belly

A U-shape pillow can support your belly and back at the same time – making it a great option for those who toss and turn a lot during the night. 

This type of pillow can prop your body from both sides, so you don’t need to flip the shape with you when you switch sides.  

To sleep with a U-shaped pillow:

  • Flip the pillow so that the “U” is upside down.
  • Rest your head and upper body on the bottom of the “U”.
  • Keep your feet in the opening of the pillow.
  • Wrap the pillow around your back and stomach.

The video below shows you what a U shaped pillow looks like and how to sleep on it when pregnant:

SNUGGLE UP ‘U SHAPED’ PREGNANCY PILLOW REVIEW | MAMA REID

iii) C-shaped Body Pillow – Reduces Pelvic Tension and Water Retention

The C-shape pillow wraps around your body curve, propping your head, back, and pelvic area – whilst also helping to reduce pelvic tension and water retention in your legs and ankles.   

This type of pillow helps you to maintain your side sleeping position through the night.

However, you have to adjust the pillow with you every time you switch sides. 

To sleep with C-shaped pillow:

  • Wrap the curved part of the pillow around your back.
  • Keep the opening of the “C” close to your belly.
  • Tuck one end of the “C” in between your legs to support your pelvic area.

The video below shows you how to sleep with a C shaped pillow when pregnant:

The BEST Pregnancy Pillow – PharMeDoc C-Shaped Pillow (Review)

iv) J-shaped Body Pillow – Accommodates Body Shape Changes

The J-shape pillow is similar to the U-shape in terms of benefits but it is missing one extra side. 

This type of pillow can be used in different ways to accommodate a woman’s body changes during and after pregnancy. 

To use a J-shaped pillow:

  • Place the long side against your belly or against your back.
  • Wrap the curved part under your head or between your legs.

v) Wedge-shaped Pillow – Versatile Support

Wedge-shaped pillows can be placed wherever you need extra support.

They work best when tucked behind your back, as it props your torso up and helps prevent any backflow of stomach acid.

They can also be placed under your belly or under your knees to help keep your spine in neutral alignment and to reduce stress on your hips and lower back whilst maximizing blood flow to the uterus. 

7: Wear Comfortable Sleepwear

Invest in comfortable pajamas that are made from a breathable fabric such as cotton, flannel, or linen whilst sleeping in a maternity belt to prevent skin irritation and to stop you overheating (also consider some cooling bed sheets if you tend to sleep hot or have night sweats).

Choose soft materials that feel nice against your skin, as your body becomes more sensitive during pregnancy. 

Keep in mind that the hooks of a maternity belt may get caught on your sleepwear and cause rips. 

You can replace the belt in this case with maternity briefs and leggings, which contain belly bands to help support your bump and pelvic weight. 

Some maternity tops contain supportive sleeping bras, which allow your skin to breathe and reduce stress on your upper body as you sleep.  

8: Sleep on a Mattress Topper

Sleeping on a mattress topper may help alleviate your body aches. 

Mattress toppers lie on top of your existing mattress to offer cushioning and air circulation for better sleep comfort and support.

They ensure an even weight distribution, relieve your pressure points, and help maintain a natural spine alignment. 

Some models even have cooling features to keep you cool and comfortable.    

9: Maximize the Room Ventilation

Keeping your bedroom cool is vital to ease some common pregnancy symptoms such as overheating and shortness of breath – especially whilst wearing a pregnancy belt. 

During pregnancy, your hormones may cause your body temperature to rise. 

Furthermore, as your baby develops, your enlarging uterus may push your diaphragm up and lead to shortness of breath. 

Some types of pregnancy belts are designed to prop your back, which helps the uterus move away from the diaphragm as much as possible. 

Ventilating the room can promote optimal air circulation, which helps you relax and breathe better, giving your baby more oxygen and nutrients.    

Don’t Sleep All Night With a Maternity Support Belt 

In conclusion, it’s best to avoid sleeping in a maternity belt all night – limit the use to 2-3 hours per night at the most.

Because wearing a maternity belt for prolonged hours may lead to discomfort, pain, decreased blood flow, heartburn, shortness of breath, and weak muscles in the pelvic area. 

You should try the tips from the list above to sleep more comfortably during and after your pregnancy.

Remember that you should be able to breathe and move comfortably whilst wearing a suitable maternity belt. 

However, if you still have difficulty sleeping during pregnancy – even after having tried every one of the tips listed above – then talk to your midwife or physiotherapist about how to use the belt and fall asleep.  

Related: can you sleep with an electric blanket on?


Sources and References

[1] Bertuit, Jeanne. “Pregnancy and pelvic girdle pain: Analysis of pelvic belt on pain.” Journal of Clinical Nursing, vol. 27, no. 1-2, 2018, pp. e129-e137. Wiley Online Library, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jocn.13888. Accessed 3 February 2021.

[2] Cakmak, Bulent. “The effect of maternity support belts on postural balance in pregnancy.” PM&R, vol. 6, no. 7, 2014, pp. 624-628. Wiley Online Library, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1016/j.pmrj.2013.12.012. Accessed 3 February 2021.

[3] American Pregnancy Association. “Best Sleeping Positions During Pregnancy.” American pregnancy, 2019, https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/pregnancy-health-wellness/sleeping-positions-while-pregnant-1012 Accessed 3 February 2021.

Medical Disclaimer

Although this article was written and researched by a qualified embryologist and andrologist, the information is not intended to replace the advice of your medical practitioner – always consult with them for the most specific advice for your needs.

Image Attribution and Licencing

Main image: ‘Pregnant Woman Sleeping’ by Skynesher (Getty Images Signature) used with permission under the terms of Canva’s One Design Use License Agreement.

Leave a comment