Is shape wear safe for pregnant women?

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Shape wear or body shapers is worn to create an illusion of a curvy waist and a flat stomach and perhaps an hourglass figure. Corsets and shape wear have a considerably long history and what we get to see is the result of a series of changes that this segment of fashion apparels for women have gone through over the last several decades, in terms of sizes, shapes and fabric. Though shape wear primarily focuses on women, of late men are also taking some fancy towards this space.

Shape wear temporarily alters the shape of the body of the one who is wearing it and is worn under apparel. Shape wear compresses and hardens bulgy and flabby areas of the body giving the desired shape to the body of the individual using this. During the Victorian days, shape wear used to be made out of cotton, fine fabric and linen apart from silk and satin. Harder materials like iron wires were also employed to make what was known as corsets. These materials could crush the ribs and at times even internal organs impacting the expansion of the lungs during breathing. However, manufacturers claim that modern shape wear like B Free’s strapless shapewear range is made of breathable and skin-friendly material making them more comfortable when selected and worn properly.

Pregnancy and shape wear

A series of changes to your size and shape occurs to a woman’s body throughout the pregnancy and post-birthing. Some of these changes can be rapid and can happen even overnight. Imagine waking up in the morning and being unable to button up the pants in which you slept. Some clothes can be uncomfortably tight and they can exercise pressure on some parts of the body. There is no medical evidence to show that wearing tight clothing impacts the health of a pregnant woman.

However, potential health concerns from wearing tight clothing include the following:


Acid reflux or heartburn is a common discomfort that occurs during pregnancy. Increased progesterone impacting the digestive process has been attributed in part to tight clothing worn around the waist. When the contents of the stomach stay longer there, on account of the slowness of the digestive system, there is a risk of the content moving upward and causing heartburn. The three constituents that will add pressure to the abdomen are the baby, the growing uterus and amniotic sac. Tight clothing around your waist only adds to this pressure.

Yeast infection

Vaginal secretions increase during pregnancy. Tight or unbreathable clothing further enhances the potential for yeast infections because tight underwear creates a perfect environment for the excessive production of yeast.


Tight clothing can trigger pain in several areas of your body, particularly during pregnancy and can include the chest, abdomen and arms. The bra size for a pregnant woman can increase in terms of the elastic around as well as the cup. When the bras are tight fitting, it can cause pain in the back, underarms and the breast itself. When such clothing is worn at work or activities outside the home, the only option before pregnant women would be to suffer the pain till they get back home and change into more comfortable clothing. Further, for those who continue to use such tight bras even during the third trimester, the milk ducts can potentially become clogged even before breastfeeding starts.

Reduced blood circulation

Ideally, oxygen intake and blood circulation should be at their best, particularly for pregnant women. Tight clothing contributes to slowing down of blood circulation. During early pregnancy, the blood vessels in a pregnant woman expand to allow free flow of an increased volume of blood essential for the baby and the placenta. Before the increase in blood volume starts, pregnant women may also experience low blood pressure or hypotension. Standing up quickly from a lying, sitting, or kneeling position could be an indication of this. If you are also wearing tight clothing on such occasions, then blood circulation to various body parts like the limbs, thighs and arms could be restricted or even cut off creating a tingling sensation or numbness.

Depending on individual circumstances, there can be other potential health hazards from wearing shape wear during pregnancy. When you explore the medical world and pregnancy-related websites, you will notice that most of them advocate wearing loose-fitting clothing throughout pregnancy. A major reason behind is that a pregnant woman already has a series of other challenges like enhanced hormonal activities, balancing herself, palpitation, difficulty coping with nutritional necessities and more. Adding more potential discomfort from shape wear should, therefore, lie in the realm of one’s personal choice. Most pregnant women would also agree that once the pregnancy is confirmed, the focus shifts to the well being of the foetus and measures that the mother to-be needs to take to ensure that. Obviously, this includes her own well being and anything that can even remotely hinder that is best avoided.

Shape wear is a temporary support

What shape wear does is only to provide a temporary support, though it has become an undergarment of choice for brides, celebrities and all women who want to enhance the way they look. It generally provides a compressed and slim appearance of the hips, thighs, buttocks and waist. Having understood the health risks associated with shape wear during pregnancy, whether to opt for this kind of undergarments would fall entirely in the realm of personal preferences. However, during the post pregnancy period, some moms may find the shape wear products helpful, particularly with regard to controlling their waistline. Considering that shape wear sits tightly in very close proximity to your skin, you may also want to ensure that the fabric used in the shape wear is suitable for your skin and more importantly that it can breathe. Remember that even in the post-pregnancy period, you have plenty of physical activity in terms of looking after your baby. Would you be comfortable with shape wear all through those physically demanding activities?

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