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A maternity belly ring is a special navel ring made of flexible material that stretches to accommodate the growing womb. This jewelry, also called a “flex ring” or “pregnancy belly ring,” enables expectant mothers to safely maintain their piercings and wear belly rings throughout an entire pregnancy. Normal belly rings, which are typically made of metals like stainless steel, do not stretch and can scar or tear abdominal tissue as the maternity progresses and the ring begins to migrate. This can expose women to possible infection. If the metal rings are taken out to avoid injury and infection, however, the hole for the piercing usually closes, requiring women to have the navel painfully re-pierced if they still want to wear belly jewelry.
Flex rings for use as a maternity fashion staple typically are made of a synthetic, polymer shaft coated with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) resins that allow the self-threading jewelry to easily slide in with no lubrication. In addition, the PTFE resins offer a chemically-pure covering that can be sterilized at high temperatures without melting, allowing the jewelry to be highly resistant to infection. A maternity belly ring made with PTFE is marketed as hypoallergenic and typically will not trigger skin reactions, even in sensitive wearers. The shaft can usually be adjusted in length by the wearer or will stretch on its own. Caring for a maternity belly ring can be as simple as removing it, screwing off the decorative accessories and boiling the shaft to sterilize it occasionally as the stomach stretches.
Decorations sold with a maternity belly ring often include celebratory emblems declaring “It’s a Boy!” or “It’s a Girl!” Emblems in the shape of infant feet and pacifiers are also popular. Typical ring styles accented simply with marbled balls and glitter are also available. Accessories already threaded onto traditional belly rings can easily be removed and switched to the shaft of maternity rings so that favorite emblems can still be used. Prices for pregnancy belly rings are often even less than traditional belly rings, due to the lack of expensive metals.
The recommended timing for switching to a maternity belly ring varies. Doctors advise women to remove rings when they begin to feel discomfort, tension or pain. Some women opt to leave their traditional belly rings in until they began to show, removing them at roughly the 14th or 16th week of pregnancy.
Others choose to celebrate the forthcoming baby by shopping for a maternity belly ring at the first sign of pregnancy and using it immediately. Most merchants specializing in body jewelry have maternity ring styles in stock or are willing to special order them. Many new mothers decide to retain their flexible maternity belly rings even after pregnancy because they simply like the style and design.