Is It Really Safe To Wear Shapewear When You're Pregnant?

photographed by Ashley Armitage.
Plenty of celebrities and non-celebrities alike swear by shapewearKim Kardashian and Chrissy Teigen are known to have worn body shaping garments even while pregnant. It makes sense: If you're pregnant and looking to keep your clothes smooth for a special event, maternity shapewear sounds like a dream. After all, it's designed to "shape" your body while leaving room for your baby, which is a whole lot more comfortable and feasible than trying to wear regular shapewear when you're pregnant. But even though you can find maternity "shaping" garments everywhere from Spanx to Motherhood Maternity (and besides the fact that you don't really need to be shaping your body, pregnant or not), is it actually safe to wear something so tight and constricting while you're pregnant?
According to Sherry A. Ross, MD, author of she-ology. The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health. Period, it depends on the shapewear, and on when and how much you wear it.
"Shapewear worn during pregnancy that fits too tight or puts unwanted pressure on different areas of the body is never a good idea," she says. "Besides creating a lot of discomfort, it can also cause pain in different parts of the body, reduced blood circulation, heartburn and yeast infections."
In other words, Dr. Ross says that if your shapewear is too constricting it can cause a host of problems. If you feel way too uncomfortable, have trouble breathing, or you're in pain while wearing your shapewear, that's a sign that it's probably too tight for you.

Shapewear worn during pregnancy that fits too tight or puts unwanted pressure on different areas of the body is never a good idea.

Sherry A. Ross, MD
In theory, if a piece of shapewear is made for a pregnant body, it's meant to be more comfortable for you, and less of a strain on your body than standard shapewear. In that sense, it's not necessarily more dangerous to wear shapewear if you're pregnant — as long as you make sure that what you're wearing fits your body correctly.
"As a general rule, shapewear clothing worn during pregnancy and postpartum has to be comfortable while providing support for your body," Dr. Ross says. "No pregnancy or postpartum shapewear clothing should overly compress and squeeze internal organs including ribs, abdominal muscles, liver, spleen and intestines."
In fact, Dr. Ross says the type of shapewear that she's most concerned about people wearing while pregnant is a Kardashian favourite: the waist trainer.
"When the waist trainer is tied up too tightly, it could cause rib fractures, limit your mobility, affect your breathing capacity, restrict your abdominal muscles and affect your posture," she says. (It's worth mentioning that even if you aren't pregnant, a waist trainer still isn't always advisable.)
In general, though, if you really want to wear a pair of maternity Spanx to a special event, and if what you're wearing fits you the way it should and doesn't cut into your skin or body, it should be fine. As with anything, though, it's important to remember moderation is key, and that you should check with your doctor for any individual concerns.
"As long as you are wearing maternity shapewear safely and comfortably, meaning you can move, breathe and sleep without restrictions or pain, then there should not be any problems wearing them if it’s your choice," Dr. Ross says.
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