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Support Garment May Reduce Back Pain Discomfort During Pregnancy

The third trimester of pregnancy is often the most uncomfortable . Physical changes in the mother’s body as well as the growth of the fetus increases discomfort in the pelvis and low back. Up to 50% of pregnant women will have low back pain during this time. Specially designed back support products for pregnant women are available but have produced mixed results.

The Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Melbourne reviewed the benefits of a specific product called the BellyBra. The study, published in BJOG (An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology) , demonstrated that the BellyBra was more effective in relieving low back discomfort compared to a common tubigrip option.

About the Study

The randomized controlled study followed 115 women between 20 and 36 weeks of pregnancy. All of the women had reported low back or rear pelvis pain. The women were randomly given either the BellyBra or the tubigrip to wear. The BellyBra is similar to a one-piece swimsuit. Tubigrip is cotton-covered elastic that is wrapped around the pelvis and lower abdominal area. Pain levels during different activities as well as the use of medication were reported by the women throughout the trial.

At the end of the trial both groups reported the same decrease in overall pain severity. However, compared to the tubigrip, the women that used the BellyBra reported significant reduction in:

  • Back pain on sleeping
  • Pain getting up from a sitting position
  • Pain during walking
  • Use of analgesic (pain) medication

How Does This Affect You?

Late pregnancy can put a lot of strain on the back. The study suggests that the BellyBra decreases some of the common discomforts, but both support garments provided the same pain relief. Strengthening and stretching exercises as well as staying physically active through the pregnancy can also help decrease the strain. Ask your doctor about exercise options and restrictions.

Talk to your doctor about pain you experience. Your doctor can recommend treatments that may provide some relief.




  • Kalus SM, Kornman LH, Quinlivan JA. Managing back pain in pregnancy using a support garment: a randomised trial. BJOG . 2008 Jan;115(1):68-75.

Last reviewed October 2008 by Larissa J. Lucas, MD

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