Thursday, April 24, 2014

Maternity Belts. The Skinny.

After I crossed the finish line at the Cowtown Half and was headed down the chute toward the medals and post-race food line I looked to my left and there was another pregnant runner (she was 27 weeks).  She was wearing the same For Two Fitness Running for Two tank I was, only in yellow.  I immediately struck up a conversation as she whipped off her support belt, which of course prompted a million questions.  The 3 things I remember are that she loved hers, that it was a Gabrialla, and that she wished she had started wearing it sooner.
The next day I started my research.  At the time I was 21 weeks and, according to my post-race adviser, was at the perfect point to look for some extra support.  The problem was that I could not find a physical brick and mortar store to try on a Gabrialla and I wasn’t very comfortable with their sizing measurement descriptions.  So for ease of mind I headed to my trusty Motherhood Maternity to see what options they had.
At MM I had two choices, their $18 “Ultimate Maternity Belt” and their $30 “Ultimate Maternity Belt”.  I chose the $30 one because it looked similar to the Gabrialla and I figured the longer I want to run the more support I am going to need.  The next morning was a weight lifting day for me so I decided to see if the belt provided any benefit during strength training.  I was immediately annoyed.  The fabric would bunch up and was uncomfortable when I squatted.  This also meant as I got further along if I want to wear it on a regular basis (not just when working out) I wouldn’t be able to comfortably sit down in it.  I knew this was not the belt for me.  I did later get a chance to run in it and due to the elasticity of the fabric and the fact that it is fairly thin (compared to the Gabrialla) it didn’t provide enough support to be happy and comfortable running in it.  Fortunately the girl that runs the MM nearest me has to be the kindest, most thoughtful person on the planet and she was happy to exchange it.
After consulting some Instagram mother runners I decided the $18 belt was worth a try.  Some of them swore it gave them as much support as the Gabrialla. And I agree. I love it!  Though after 5 weeks (and over 100 miles) I did have to exchange it due to the Velcro coming unsewn from the elastic.  In the beginning I had wished it came in an extra small but regardless, it does the job and comfortably.  The thing I like best about this belt is it’s simplicity.  Both in size and function.  It hides so easily under my clothes!  The first time I wore it directly in contact with my skin and noticed a little irritation where the top of the band came into contact with my skin so I wore shorts or pants that would cover the skin the belt contacted from that point.  If you look closely in all of my race photos you can see a “muffin top” or chub ring where my belt was snuggly hiding under my tank. 

Belt #3: Gabrialla

Despite how satisfied I was with my simple little MM strap I worried that it wouldn't provide enough support as I grew larger, errr, as my passenger grew larger.  So I broke down and ordered a Gabrialla from Amazon.  Since I am an extra small to small in everything else I went with a small when ordering this belt.  I’m afraid I should have sized up, as there isn’t a lot of extra space to grow.  The Gabrialla provides great support while squatting and does not bunch like belt #1. However, it chafes and irritates everything if you rotate or flex your core side to side.  So if you’re doing a circuit training or functional style workout, this might not be your best friend.  The biggest difference in belt #2 and the Gabrialla is the size of the Gabrialla.  It is much thicker (taller) in the back rising near the bottom of the sports bra line.  This makes me nervous about running long distances in it because I fear there will be chaffing issues.  For this reason I have only worn it on weekday runs (6-8 miles) so far.  The Gabrialla is a much thicker, stronger, more well-constructed belt.  I think it will provide more support as I grow and be reusable in my next pregnancy.

All of these things considered I feel that the $18 Motherhood Maternity belt definitely provides the best bang for your buck in the second trimester.  However, the Gabrialla is the best longterm investment.

What are your thoughts?  What have you tried?  When did you start wearing your belt?

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