Don't Squeeze the Baby: Is It Safe to Wear a Corset While Pregnant?
By now, you've probably caught on to just how enthusiastic we are about all things waist training.
We've shared our thoughts on wearing a cincher to the gym or a corset to bed, as well as provided ideas for tons of fun, fashionable outfits which can help make your waist trainer a part of your everyday wardrobe. We wish we could tell you that there is absolutely no time throughout your life when it would not be okay to spend the day rocking your favorite steel-boned fashion corset.
Unfortunately, there is one time we would definitely recommend hanging up your corset or putting it back in the drawer for a little while. Pregnancy. Yes, that's right. You heard us correctly. Most of the "negative health effects" which corsets have been accused of causing for so long have been disproven with solid scientific and medical evidence. However, there is one period of time in a person's life during which health problems may still be caused or exacerbated by wearing a corset - and that is during the nine month period of pregnancy.
Nobody here at Get Waisted is or even claims to be a medical professional. We do not currently employ any doctors on our staff. If you have any detailed questions regarding the medical effects of corsets on pregnant women and developing fetuses, we strongly suggest that you ask your doctor - either a general practitioner or a pregnancy specialist such as a gynecologist.
However, the general opinion held by our staff and endorsed on this blog is as follows:
If you have become pregnant, you should IMMEDIATELY stop wearing corsets or any other type of boned and/or non-elastic shapewear until after the delivery of your child.
We believe that this is the best and safest way to ensure both your own health throughout the period of pregnancy and that the baby is allowed to grow, develop and be delivered in a safe, healthy manner. Again, no information in this guide will replace the opinion of a licensed medical professional.
However, we would like to share with you some further information regarding the relationship between corseting and pregnancy in order to help you make the best possible decision for you and any of your potential future children.
The History of Corseting While Pregnant
Long ago ,but perhaps not so long ago as you might imagine - as recently as the early 1900s, in fact - many women felt socially pressured to wear corsets each and every time they appeared in public.
From royalty and nobility to business owners and even young debutantes, women around the world relied on corsets to keep their weight down and draw attention to their narrow waist and hourglass figure.
Unfortunately for these women, "every time they appeared in public" included during their pregnancies. The ideal of the thin woman with the hourglass shape was so persistent and pervasive that it unfortunately lead to harmful, negative attitudes and shameful comments regarding the otherwise perfectly healthy and normal larger bodies of pregnant women. Women felt pressured to keep their "baby bump" hidden for as long as possible, regardless of the pain and discomfort it caused their growing bellies - and, of course, they fell back on corsets to provide this slimming effect.
Many women, once they felt their protruding stomach had reached a size such that it could no longer be disguised with a corset, withdrew from society entirely and underwent periods of confinement and isolation for the remaining months until the baby was delivered. The dangerous trend became so popular that many popular corset sellers began making and advertising specialized "maternity corsets," which were supposedly able to grow in size as your stomach did. These so-called maternity corsets featured two additional sets of laces, one at each side, which could be loosened as the pregnancy progressed. They were also usually longer and sat lower on the belly and abdomen so as to properly cover the "baby bump".
Unfortunately, these "helpful" garments were still extremely stiff and rigid and still included steel boning, meaning that they did little to actually lessen the harm caused by corseting while pregnant. (Today, a number of these corsets can be seen at various museums throughout Europe and America - and our personal opinion is that they look more like torture devices than clothing!)
What Are the Risks?
As time went on, medical doctors began looking into the effects of corsets on a growing fetus, and links began to appear connecting corseting while pregnant with the increased occurrence of birth defects in children.
Children would be born with incorrectly formed organs and even bones and improperly shaped heads due to not being given the space to move around in grow while in their mother's womb. Scholarly analysis of medical literature during the time has also revealed that many women who corseted while pregnant were forced to wear pessaries or uterine supports, wads of cotton or wool soaked with various medicines which were inserted inside the vagina in order to prevent prolapse of the uterus.
It is therefore believed that corseting while pregnant severely increased the risk of this dangerous - and, for the fetus, life-threatening - process occurring in later stages of pregnancy. Despite these warnings, corseting while pregnant continued to have its devotees, especially among adherents of the natural and home-birth movements.
As recently as 1950, a manifesto was (self) published on home-birthing by Floridian author Pat Carter, who insisted that corseting would make the baby "behave" better and kick and thrash around less while also hiding the bump. With waist training in general and corsets in particular re-entering the public eye in recent years, concerns have arisen that pregnant women may once again be drawn to the idea of "hiding" their growing bump. If you are pregnant or even think you might be pregnant, do not do this.
It is not for no reason that doctors and fetal health specialists are constantly saying not to wear tight clothing while you are pregnant. While tight clothing might not "squish the baby" as is so often claimed, it does cause discomfort and pain by not allowing the woman's body to expand, grow and shift as it needs to do and can sometimes even do over the course of a single day. Tighter tops also bring with them a risk of heartburn and acid reflux as digestion is slowed and stomach acid becomes trapped in the esophagus, while skirts, pants and undergarments can cause yeast infections as not enough air is allowed to reach the genitalia.
A corset is no different from any other too-tight outfit that should not be worn during pregnancy. Some of the myths that we debunked in earlier articles, such as the idea that corsets cause shifts in your digestion and bathroom schedule or can result in dizziness or nausea, are in fact completely true while you are carrying a child. You will experience pain, discomfort, bloating, acid reflux, increased urination, shortness of breath, nausea, and vomiting - and all for what? A few weeks of a slightly smaller baby bump? Don't risk it. Your baby's life and health is important. Your friends and family will respect, support and even admire your pregnant body - so there's absolutely no reason to hide it, especially if that "hiding" comes with so many health risks for both you and the little one.
Here at Get Waisted, we believe that every single person's body is beautiful, no matter their sex, height, size, age, or any number of other factors. And that includes pregnant individuals too! So yes, even you, you training fiend or most devoted of tightlacing enthusiasts - put your corset away and rock your natural pregnant body for the next nine months. Someday, your baby will thank you for it!
But Wait, What About Other Shapewear?
We're going to reiterate what we said in the earlier parts of this article, because it's just that important: do not, under any circumstances, wear any waist training which contains boning during pregnancy. Yes, this includes corsets which advertise a decreased bone count and even latex cinchers with flexible plastic boning - it's just not worth the risk.
However, some women have reported positive results from wearing looser, more elastic and more forgiving waist training garments, such as bone-free latex cinchers in larger sizes and specially designed maternity girdles. So yes, it's true, being pregnant doesn't mean that you have to go totally shapewear-free - just pick something which focuses on cradling and supporting your growing stomach, rather than suppressing or hiding it!
Pick something a few sizes larger than you usually go for, with minimal compression of the waist and a lot of support for the lower abdomen where the baby will be. Stick with elastic materials only - latex, spandex, Lycra, and neoprene are all great options. If it's too tight, loosen or remove it immediately - rocking shapewear while pregnant is all about support rather than slimming.
Choose something which is easy to get in and out of - something which uses hook and eye fasteners or Velcro, for example - for those days when your new body's maneuverability is not quite what you are used to. If your shapewear includes lacing or hook and eye fasteners, try utilizing an inverted V shape, where the top is tight but the laces are loosened or some fasteners are undone near the bottom of the garment. This will make sure that the stomach is not being pushed on too much while also providing excellent support for your probably larger, tenderer and heavier than usual breasts.
Even if you are utilizing a specialized maternity girdle intended specifically for use while pregnant, we do not recommend wearing any sort of shapewear after the first 5-6 months of pregnancy. In the latter months, your stomach absolutely needs that extra room to grow, shift or move around on a daily basis, not to mention your baby will likely be significantly more active during this period.
So once you're nearing the home stretch, leave that shapewear at home and instead feel like a proud, confident mother in some gorgeous loose, flowing tops and wide waisted bottoms.
As we mentioned at the very beginning of this article, us folks here at Get Waisted are not medical professionals, so consult your doctor or a pregnancy specialist if you have any questions regarding the use of any kind of shapewear during your pregnancy.
However, there is one way in which we can help you out - go here to browse our catalog, which contains tons of girdles, belts and cinchers which will help keep your baby snug and happy in their temporary but important home!