Sometimes I see pregnant women at the gym wearing a special belt. It goes under the belly and around the back. This is obviously some kind of support but why are they wearing them? My generation managed to have babies without ever wearing such a device.

There are many different kinds of pregnancy support belts these days. They are sold by different names such as maternity belt, maternity support belt, maternity girdle, or pregnancy support belt.

Some are just to support the back and take off extra strain from the lumbar spine. Others just support the abdominal muscles from the strain and weight of the growing abdomen. Such supports can help improve posture and prevent swayback.

Doctors recommend these supports most often for back or pelvic pain, abdominal strain, or pubic bone separation. For a smaller number of women, special belts are used for varicose veins or swelling (lymphedema) in the pelvic area.

Today's women tend to be more active than in previous generations. They participate in exercise programs throughout their pregnancies. Proper nutrition, rather than avoiding weight gain, is stressed so they may carry more weight than women 20 years ago. And today's women look for increased comfort while keeping up their busy lives.