Postpartum Belly Wrapping: Gimmick or Godsend?
If you believe the hype, postpartum belly wraps are the secret to getting six pack abs after pregnancy. According to believers—and there are many—postpartum wrapping can shrink the waist, minimize stretch marks, and even accelerate the healing process after delivery. Unfortunately, reality of postpartum wrapping is a bit more nuanced.
Post-pregnancy wraps—also known as belly binders, bands, and belts—aren’t a new phenomenon. Women around the globe have been wrapping their waists after childbirth for centuries. Using strips of woven cloth, gradually tightened around the belly, women in Asian, European, and Latin American cultures have been able to reduce swelling and tighten over-stretched abdominal muscles after pregnancy.
These days, few of us busy moms have the time to attend ceremonial wrapping sessions immediately after our babies are born. However, we still have many of the same physical postpartum concerns as our ancestors. This is where the modern belly band enters the picture.
Made of high-tech stretch and compression fabrics, today’s top-rated postpartum belly wraps utilize Velcro closures rather than knots. This makes them easier to put on and take off, and it’s opened up the market for moms who are curious about belly wrapping but unable to spend hours with a professional demonstrating advanced binding techniques.
Do belly bands live up to the hype?
As the owner of Purple Laurel, a boutique that specializes in postpartum shapewear and medical-quality postpartum belly wraps, I’m constantly contacted by pregnant moms-to-be considered belly wrapping after delivery. The No. 1 question these women ask is whether belly wraps actually work. My answer depends on the definition of “work.”
For women who are interested in extra hip, back, or abdominal support, postpartum wraps definitely work. The back pain that many new moms suffer from can almost always be decreased, if not eliminated entirely, with the consistent use of an medical-quality abdominal support device.
Postpartum belly wraps also help women with self-confidence, and that’s a point that shouldn’t be overlooked. The weeks and months following childbirth are emotionally draining, and anything a woman can do to make herself feel and look better is worth trying—especially in cases like this, where there’s virtually no risk and minimal financial cost. Another bonus: Women who feel good are more likely to exercise, which creates a snowball effect and leads to greater acceptance of post-baby bodies.
In addition to recommending belly support devices for women who’ve undergone c-section surgery, many physicians are also advising patients who’ve had vaginal births to try compression wraps as a way to help the uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size more quickly. This makes the belly look slimmer, without actually having anything to do with weight loss or muscle definition.
What about the downsides?
Belly wrapping isn’t for everyone. I generally say that anyone who expects that wearing a postpartum belly wrap will lead to six-pack abs overnight shouldn’t buy one because they will most likely be disappointed.
Naysayers will tell you that the results that women notice after belly wrapping are due to water loss, and they’re not entirely wrong. One of the major benefits of postpartum belly wrapping does involve a reduction in swelling in the abdomen. However, I think most moms would tell you that reducing swelling in the belly is hardly a downside to wearing a postpartum wrap.
For the best results, physicians almost universally recommend that healthy women wear their medical-grade postpartum wraps for four to six weeks after delivery. How soon a woman begins wearing her wrap will depend on personal preference and comfort, however I know many new moms who bring their wraps with them to the hospital! (Within the first week after delivery is more typical.) Wraps can be worn for as long as a woman wants, so there’s no real downside to extended use.
For women with realistic expectations, postpartum belly wraps can absolutely be a godsend. Increased circulation, back relief, pelvic floor support, muscle retraction, decreased postpartum bleeding, and improved posture are just a few of the many benefits. New moms can lose inches by wrapping their bellies after birth. However, I believe that it’s more important to emphasize the physical benefits than the aesthetics.
As you can probably tell, the topic of postpartum belly wraps is something I’m passionate about, and I love talking to new moms about their experiences. If you’ve tried a belly wrap, what did you think? Was it a gimmick or a godsend? Leave a comment below or reach out to me on Twitter at @purplelaurelmom. I can’t wait to hear what you think!
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