Q. What is a belly band? Is it safe for pregnant women to use?

A. "I recommend it a lot," says Dr. Elisa Felsen-Singer, an obstetrician and gynecologist at the Huntington Medical Group. A belly band usually wraps around the body just underneath the burgeoning belly, helping the muscles and ligaments support the growing uterus. There are myriad variations to choose from, and it's meant to help mom, not baby. "It gives you a little bit of additional support. It holds the belly up a little," Felsen-Singer says. "Some women swear by it."

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Felsen-Singer says it can be especially helpful during a second or subsequent pregnancy. "The first time you carry, you're so high. Once you've had a baby, there's definitely a laxity to the muscles," she says. That can cause a sensation of pressure, or lower back pain. It's also helpful for women who have to be on their feet much of the day on the job, Felsen-Singer says. "Your back can get strained because of what's going on in front," she says.

Belly bands can be found at maternity stores, department stores and online. "It's something to explore because it's not ridiculously expensive," Felsen-Singer says. Many cost between $15 and $50. And using one won't hurt the baby, she says.

However, if an expectant mom is feeling pressure or back pain, she should check with her doctor before using one, Felsen-Singer says. "You want to talk to your doctor to make sure there are not underlying obstetrical issues. Pressure can be a sign of early labor or preterm labor," she says. "Once these things have been ruled out, you can attribute it to muscular-skeletal issues."