Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Gabrialla Maternity Belt: A Review

This will probably be either a two-part review or a review which I update significantly as the belly gets larger. I thought about just waiting until I was further along to review it at all, but I've been running in this thing for a month and I mentioned a reviewing it several weeks ago, so I figured I would go ahead and do it.

In case you're in a hurry and you want the short version of the review, here's a synopsis: I LOVE it. I can't imagine running without it until after the baby gets here.

The longer version: I don't personally know anyone who has run through an entire pregnancy. So I didn't get any support belt reviews from people personally I know and trust, which is something I really like to do when I have to spend money on something I've never bought before. I have been thrilled by all the product advice I've been getting from friends who have gone before me in motherhood--the best kinds of baby slings, bottles, pacifiers, butt paste (yes, butt paste is apparently a thing). But as far as a support belt for running during pregnancy, I was on my own.

So I did as much online research as I could, reading blog posts, Runner's World articles, Amazon reviews. And I settled on the Gabrialla belt. Medela also makes a belt which came recommended by several sources, but I liked the idea of the Gabrialla's adjustable support on the sides, and the fact that it seemed a little less bulky. Also, it came in black or white instead of nude, and as I was going to be wearing it over my clothes and sweating in it, the darker color was more appealing.

The product description says it is not noticeable when worn under clothing, but I can't comment on that, because I wear it over my clothes when I run in it, and I'm not to the point where I want to wear it for anything other than exercise--I don't need that much support yet. If I get there, I'll give it a try. Most of the reviewers who wear the belt for exercise recommended wearing it over clothing to prevent chafing, and I agree--the material is not soft and would probably rub.

When I first started wearing the belt, it was still cold, so I was running in tights. I had a bit of a problem with the belt sliding up over the slick fabric of the tights, and I had to pull it back down several times a run. Now that it's warmer, I don't have the same problem with shorts or with most longer running tops.

My favorite thing about the belt is it not only provides support for the belly, lifting it off my bladder a bit, but I wear it low enough that it supports my hips as well, specifically the sacroiliac joint, where I have been having some pain since about 10 weeks. Since I started wearing the belt, SI joint pain after running has decreased significantly. Yoga and foam rolling have helped also.

The one downside is the belt's lack of a pocket. I know it's not designed specifically for exercise, and people who wear it for daily use probably don't need a pocket. But I do. Because it happens to cover the exact location of the tiny key pocket on most running shorts. If you stick a key in the pocket and wear the belt, the key digs into your skin. I finished a run a few weeks ago with a perfect imprint of my car key on my right hip. Running product designers, if you're reading, maternity running belts need key pockets! Thanks.

Overall, this is probably the single purchase I would recommend to any and every pregnant runner. Without it, at 24 weeks, I might have reached the point at which running is more uncomfortable than fun. It really makes a difference, and I am so glad I bought it!

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