Information About Belly Casting
Welcome to our Belly Cast Information page. We hope you'll find the general information on belly casting and the specific information about our belly mask kits helpful! Click on any of the links below to be taken to the answer for a specific belly cast question (just scroll down to read them all). Or, click a photo link below or a text link (within an answer) to be taken to a specific belly cast product for ordering.
- Why make a pregnancy belly cast?
- What exactly is a pregnancy belly cast?
- What materials are used during the belly casting and are they safe?
- Why use medical grade plaster gauze bandages?
- What is the difference between your Complete Belly Cast Kit, Ultimate Belly Cast Kit, and your Basic Belly Cast Kit?
- When should I make my belly cast?
- Do I need help to do my belly cast?
- How long does it take to make a maternity belly cast and is it difficult?
- How do I make a belly mold? Is it uncomfortable?
- Does the water temperature I work with during the belly casting make a difference?
- How do I get a really smooth belly cast?
- How do I decorate my belly mask?
- How should I display my pregnancy belly cast?
Why make a pregnancy belly cast? The answer is simple. You hold a miracle inside you and that miracle won't stay there long! Although you may be feeling tired and huge and your pregnant belly may be unrecognizable from its pre-pregnancy counterpart, the time of bonding with baby during pregnancy really is fleeting (it just seems to take forever)! After childbirth, life takes on a whole new dimension. Time flies though, and memory fades. Children grow quickly. Since kids are always, always fascinated with stories and images of themselves, pregnancy belly casting is a wonderful way to show children the joy you took in motherhood before their birth. Capturing this moment between mother and baby by creating a 3D replica of mom's "baby belly," will be a lifelong maternity keepsake to share with your child. Just like youth... when the time is gone, you will want it back! Remember your pregnant belly through the creation of a beautiful baby keepsake and family heirloom by creating a belly mask in under 1 hour with a Mother Belly Pregnancy Belly Cast Kit! Save the memory while you can!
What exactly is a pregnancy belly cast (or belly mask)? A pregnancy bellycast (also called a belly mask or a belly mold) is a three dimensional permanent plaster mold of an expectant mother's pregnant belly. Some mothers choose to cast their pregnant belly only (called a belly bowl). Some expecting moms do a body cast of belly and breasts, while others include shoulders, arms, hands, or thighs too. Pregnant belly casts can be whatever you choose to make them! This unique maternity "baby belly" keepsake can include as much or as little of your pregnant belly and body as you'd like. A belly mask is made by applying layers of medical grade plaster casting bandages over an expectant mom's pregnant tummy, using Vaseline as a release agent so the belly cast slides easily off mom's skin when hardened. Your finished "pregnancy art" can be personalized by painting, bronzing, imprinting with baby handprints and footprints (see our Baby Safe Ink Pads), or decorating to match a nursery. A Pregnancy Belly Casting Kit by Mother Belly makes an unusual & unique baby shower gift! This maternity gift for expecting mother's will create baby keepsakes both mom and baby will treasure.
What materials are used during my belly casting and are they safe? Belly mask casting kits have been around for years and maternity belly casts have been done safely on thousands of expectant mothers all over the world. Mother Belly Pregnancy Belly Mask Cast Kits include:
- Bandages: Mother Belly Pregnancy Belly Cast Kits use medical grade plaster casting bandages. These are the same type of medical grade plaster casting bandages that doctors and hospitals across the country use to cast broken limbs. If a pregnant woman were to break an arm or leg during pregnancy, plaster casting bandages might literally be worn for weeks or months at a time. During a pregnancy belly cast, the fast set bandages are on mom's skin for only 30-45 minutes. The bandages meet ASTM-D4236 (American Society for Testing and Materials/ASTM International) safety standards and LHAMA (Labeling of Hazardous Art Materials Act) requirements indicating the material is non-toxic and not expected to produce any chronic adverse health effects. The bandages contain no latex, an important safety feature for both mom and baby. If you have concerns about making a belly cast, always consult your physician first.
- Vaseline: The release agent we use in our belly mold kits is Vaseline. We believe this to be the most universally safe and effective product to use for belly casting. It is smeared liberally over the mother's skin and belly to lubricate it and act as a buffer between her skin and the casting bandages. This enables the bellymask to be easily removed when set. In fact, many lifecasting artists also use Vaseline when working with plaster gauze bandages on professionally commissioned body casting art work. Vaseline is used and recommended by doctors and hospitals worldwide and has been used safely for years, not only as a skin softener but also as a skin protector, even on newborns. Vaseline is colorless, fragrance free, and hypo-allergenic. Vaseline is provided in the Ultimate and Complete Belly Mask Casting Kits, but is not provided in the Basic Belly Mask Kit. For this kit, you must supply your own release agent.
- Gloves: To cover your helper's hands during the casting, we include a pair of nitrile (non-rubber) gloves. In some cases, wearing vinyl or latex gloves may cause allergic reactions on the skin. We have avoided this by providing nitrile gloves which, though more expensive, are safer to wear.
- Drop Cloth: Our Ultimate and Complete Belly Mask kits provide you with a 9x12 foot plastic drop cloth to protect the furniture and floor in your belly casting area. The drop cloth is disposable, so when you've finished your belly cast, just throw it out and your casting workspace is clean!
- Sanding Screen: Once your pregnant belly cast has set, you can sand it using our sanding screen. This is an actual carbide screen so it's tougher and won't tear like ordinary sandpaper.
- Gift Box: For the Ultimate and Complete Belly Mask Casting Kits, your pregnancy belly cast kit comes packaged with all of the above, along with our step-by-step instructions, in a beautiful gift box. Colorful gift wrap, beautiful coordinating ribbons, and a personalized gift card may be included for a fee. A gift box is not included with the Basic Belly Cast Kit.
- In addition to the contents listed above, Mother Belly’s Ultimate Belly Mask Casting Kit also includes our Belly Cast Painting and Art Kit and Metallic Antiquing Kit. These products provide everything you’ll need to sand, strengthening, smooth, finish paint, and hang your completed belly cast art. Click here for more info or to purchase the Ultimate Belly Casting Kit. For complete details on all the additional Ultimate Belly Cast Kit contents, click here: About Belly Cast Kit Contents.
Why use medical grade plaster gauze bandages vs. craft grade? Quite simply, we believe them to be the safest. The bandages we use for our belly casts are approved for use in U.S. hospitals. This is not a claim that less expensive "art or craft grade" plaster bandages can make! Our maternity belly cast bandages are more expensive than art or craft grade bandages, but your safety is paramount to us. They also contain no latex, another important safety feature for both mother and baby. Our belly casting bandages also meet ASTM-D4236 safety standards. The medical grade rolls we use are well coated with plaster so that when they are wet down, the creamy plaster you'll need to blend the strips is abundant. Again, if you have any questions about the general safety of pregnancy belly casting or specific questions as related to your own pregnancy, please consult your OB as your final authority.
What is the difference between the Ultimate Belly Cast Kit, the Complete Belly Cast Kit and the Basic Belly Cast Kit? Mother Belly's Ultimate Pregnancy Belly Mask Cast Kit is our most comprehensive kit. The Mother Belly Ultimate Belly Cast Mask Kit supplies you with 6 rolls of 4" by 5 yard (30 square feet) casting bandage. The Ultimate Belly Cast Kit also includes Vaseline, two (2) carbide sanding screens, a 9x12 drop cloth, easy to follow instructions, plus lots of extras: 5 pairs of nitrile gloves, extra sanding papers and prep materials like paint brushes, our Belly Cast Painting and Art Kit (which includes cast strengthening plaster, 2 finish paint colors of your choice, our Metallic Antiquing Kit & hanging ribbon to mount your belly art on the wall of your nursery), plus your choice of a black, pink or blue Baby Safe Ink Pad for taking baby's first footprints and handprints at home! The Ultimate Belly Mask Kit includes all the sealing paints and supplies you'll need to make your belly mold look like a work of art, personalized with your baby’s own signature – newborn hand prints and foot prints! Packaged in a beautiful gold linen gift box, this kit can optionally be gift wrapped, trimmed, and sent with a personalized gift card.
Mother Belly's Complete Pregnancy Belly Mask Cast Kit includes 5 total rolls of plaster casting bandages. This provides ample support for the breast and belly area if cast alone, or, in most cases, allows the expectant mom to cast the shoulder area, or the tops of the thighs, or a hand as well as the breast and belly area. The Complete Kit also comes with Vaseline, a drop cloth, nitrile gloves, a sanding screen, and step-by-step instructions. It is packaged in a beautiful colored 8 x 8 x 3.5” gift box, which can optionally be gift wrapped, trimmed, and sent with a personalized gift card.
Mother Belly's Basic Pregnancy Belly Cast Kit is our most cost-conscious alternative for those who don't mind providing some materials themselves and just want "the basics." Our Basic Belly Mask Cast Kit comes with 4 rolls of 4-inch x 5-yard bandaging. In most cases, an additional roll of bandages will be needed if mom wants to cast anything other than the breast and belly area. The kit also includes nitrile gloves, sanding screen, and step-by-step instructions, but no drop cloth or Vaseline. It is shipped in basic corrugated packaging and not in a gift box. Gift wrapping, trim, and gift card are not available for this kit.
For a comparison chart of all the bellycasting kits and their contents, click here: Belly Cast Kit Contents.
When should I make my belly cast? There is really no limitation. Generally, we recommend a belly cast be made between the 34th and 38th weeks of pregnancy. Some mothers choose to make multiple belly castings during pregnancy to document changing belly size as the pregnancy progresses by trimester. Others who carry multiples or worry about delivering early may also do a belly cast before the 34th week. And of course, there are always moms who wait until almost full term so they can display their proud "maximized" belly! Bear in mind though, it's best to have your pregnancy belly casting kit on hand early as opposed to waiting until last minute. This eliminates the worry of getting the belly cast kit "in time," and will also save on expensive "last-minute-emergency-gotta-have-it-right-now" express shipping! That's one reason why our pregnant belly cast kit makes such a unique baby keepsake and thoughtful baby shower gift or pregnancy gift. Given in advance, mom has plenty of time to discover the magic of belly casting her "little treasure" at her leisure.
Do I need help to do my belly cast? Yes, that's definitely best (though there's no stopping a determined mom from doing a belly cast on herself). However, it always helps to actually be able to "see" the entire belly as it is being cast, so we recommend using a helper. Most mothers like the idea of sharing the belly casting experience with their husband, partner, older children, grandparents-to-be, or close friends. Some even make it a group event and do the casting during a "blessingway" ceremony or at a baby shower! Whatever you decide, the unique experience of welcoming baby through the creation of a pregnancy belly cast will truly be memorable! When completed, your pregnant belly cast will become a family heirloom and baby keepsake you'll treasure.
How long does it take to make a maternity belly cast and is it difficult? A Pregnant Belly Cast takes only about 45-60 minutes to complete. This estimate is for the entire belly casting process, including prep time. The actual time mom wears the plaster gauze bandages to form the belly cast is about 30-45 minutes! Belly casting is really simple and easy to do craft. With each type of belly cast kit, we provide easy, step-by-step instructions so that a helper can apply the plaster bandage strips correctly to the expecting mom's belly. The creation of your pregnancy belly cast is a joyful time of bonding with your baby. It's also a great way for an expectant father to share in the pregnancy experience! If you love your beautiful pregnant belly, make a belly mask in less than an hour of your time and enjoy it forever!
How do I make a belly mold? Is it uncomfortable? Detailed step-by-step instructions are included in your pregnancy belly casting kit. Basically, the molding process begins by preparing both mom and the plaster bandages for casting. Once you've set up your workspace and materials, cut the bandages to the appropriate lengths, without getting them wet. Once the bandages are ready to apply, have mom generously grease herself with Vaseline on all surfaces where the plaster bandages will be applied. This is an essential step so the belly cast won't stick. Vaseline is a wonderful lubricant/release agent and will allow easy removal of your finished belly mold. Wet, apply, smooth and layer the bandages according to the methods described in our instructions. After all the plaster bandages have been applied, wait 5-10 minutes for the belly cast to set and start to pull away from the body. Gently remove and let the cast dry for 4-5 days before decorating. That's it! It's really simple. The process shouldn't be uncomfortable at all. It's important for mom to be in a comfortable position during the belly casting. Many women in advanced pregnancy find that standing for 30-45 minutes can be tedious, which is why we recommend a seated position to begin the casting. Mom can stand only when it is necessary to apply the bandages to the bottom half of her belly.
Does the water temperature I work with during the casting make a difference? Yes. The water should be about room temperature (not too warm or cold to the touch). If you're going to fudge, better to make the water cooler than warmer in our opinion. Warm water will help the belly cast plaster set faster. Mother Belly Pregnancy Belly Cast Kits provide Fast Set bandages. Using warm water to activate the plaster will accelerate and shorten the casting time so that it is even quicker. Unless you are really well versed in what you need to do, we don't recommend this. Also, the plaster bandages may heat very slightly (called an exothermic reaction) as they set. This is normal and will not cause discomfort as the heat reaction is designed to stay below body temperature. However, increased water temperature will also increase the heat producing properties of the plaster as well. Using really cold water will lengthen the set time by a few minutes, but may get chilly for poor mom. For these reasons, we recommend staying middle of the road with your water temperature when making your bellycast.
How do I get a really smooth belly cast? The first trick is to smooth the plaster on the bandages generously with your wet, gloved fingertips as the wet bandages are applied to form the belly cast. The creamy plaster will help blend the bandage edges better. After the belly cast has dried, lightly sand off any small plaster bumps with the sanding screen supplied in your kit. Then, we recommend using the plaster strengthener, as supplied in our Belly Cast Painting and Art Kit. This high grade gypsum plaster performs three tasks: it fills in the creases and crevices in the belly cast and hides the bandage lines, it strengthens the belly mold both inside and out so that there are no weak spots, and it acts as a primer for the belly mask's finishing paint. This single material not only takes the place of both a regular primer & spackle, but adds the additional benefit of making your cast 2X as strong!
How do I decorate my belly mask? Pregnancy belly casts are simple, easy crafts to mold and decorate. Decorating a belly mask can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. The most basic belly casts are left natural (or "raw"), without sanding, filler, or paint. At minimum (even if you plan do nothing else), we recommend sealing both the inside and outside of your belly cast or the cast will continue to produce plaster dust. Trim the edges of your belly cast with scissors to even them out if you want. Make small holes in the belly cast approximately where a bra strap would be if you plan to hang it with ribbon, or off to the sides of the cast if you plan to string picture wire across the back for hanging. Any holes should be at least 1.5" to 2" in from the cast edges. This can be done using a screwdriver tip, but is easiest using an electric drill. If you have extra bandages left over, before drilling holes, apply the remaining strips to the inside of your cast in the area where the holes will go. Allow to dry thoroughly before drilling. This reinforces the area of the belly mold that will be used for hanging. If you plan to paint your belly cast, we recommend an acrylic or latex paint. Here on our site, we provide 18 different Finish Colors for you to choose from. Each color comes with its own 1" paint brush. However, your best choice for decorating is our Belly Cast Painting and Art Kit, (which includes cast strengthening plaster, 2 finish paint colors of your choice plus brushes, our Metallic Antiquing Kit & hanging ribbon to mount your belly art on the wall of your nursery). You can also decorate your pregnancy belly cast using decoupage glue to apply paper, fabric, tissue, photos, etc. Add trim, beads, feathers, ink baby handprints & footprints (see our Baby Safe Ink Pad), ribbon, autographs, baby's name, weight, birth date, or literally anything else you can think of to your belly cast. Add ribbon or cord to hang the finished belly mask, and you've created your masterpiece!
How should I display my pregnancy belly cast? Typically, once decorated, a pregnancy belly mask is displayed by hanging on a wall using coordinating ribbon, decorative cord, or picture hanging materials. An alternative is to mount the belly mold on solid color backing within a large decorative frame or inside a large shadow box. A decorative floor easel will also display your belly cast well. And too, there's always the old lean-it-up-against-the-wall technique! Whatever you decide, display your belly cast proudly. It's where your little miracle lived!