Expert reviewed by Megan Craig PT, DPT, a Doctor of Physical Therapy
Navigating the aches, pains, and acceptance of your postpartum body can be tough and unexpected. As a two-time C-section mom, I found so much support in postpartum belly wraps for my recovery. I initially misunderstood their purpose, thinking they were intended to help in a quick ‘bounce back’ rather than being an extremely helpful supportive tool.
I first learned about belly wraps during those memorable first steps after my c-section. With the nurse's assistance while using the bathroom for the first time, she set me up with mesh underwear, a puppy pad, a peri bottle, and then skillfully wrapped me in a belly wrap. My nurse explained the various benefits of using a belly wrap postpartum and I am eager to pass on this information to you.
To provide expert guidance on finding the best postpartum belly wrap, we've consulted Megan Craig PT, DPT a physical therapist at Renew Physical Therapy. Megan will help us further understand how belly wraps are essential to the postpartum recovery and healing process.
- Understanding postpartum belly wraps
- Are postpartum belly wraps necessary?
- Two benefits of using a postpartum belly wrap
- When to start using a postpartum belly wrap
- Considerations when choosing a postpartum belly wrap
- The best postpartum belly wraps IMO
- Belly wrap FAQs
Understanding postpartum belly wraps
A belly wrap is a broad band of stretchable fabric that securely fits around your midsection, often used after childbirth to provide gentle, consistent pressure on your abdominal muscles. This pressure offers support to your uterus and the surrounding area as it recovers and begins to shrink back to its pre-pregnancy size. Megan explains, “A belly wrap or binder creates support and compression to the abdomen to help with approximation of the abdominal tissue (which has been on stretch for 9 months!).” Postpartum belly wraps can also aid in reducing swelling around c-section incisions, facilitating faster tissue healing and contributing to a sense of support and stabilization.
Belly wraps come in various styles and sizes, so it's essential to find one that fits comfortably and suits your needs. Megan explains that although there are various belly wraps on the market, there is actually a difference between them. Belly wraps and binders are different from support garment and underwear, she says, “belly wraps specifically target and provide localized support to the abdomen, while support garments contribute to support extending from the pelvic floor upwards.”
Postpartum belly wraps exert a gentle pressure on the abdominal area, effectively reducing swelling, alleviating postpartum pain, promoting the healing process, and enhancing circulation. Belly wraps approximate the tissue surrounding the abdominal muscles, which may improve contractile abilities that were weakened during the postpartum period. Using the belly wrap can also serve as a postural cue during breastfeeding and daily movements, potentially alleviating back soreness too.
Are postpartum belly wraps necessary?
The answer is not cut and dry. It ultimately depends on personal preference and factors such as individual comfort and your postpartum experience. Some women swear by them (again, as a c-section mama I really think it makes a difference for recovery), while others don't see much of a difference.
If belly wraps are too tight, it may be difficult to breathe normally and it may hinder movements. Megan explains that, “a belly wrap can be helpful in the first several days, especially if you've had a c-section. It can provide extra support with movement but keep your body mechanics in mind and avoid holding your breath during movement.” Megan also emphasizes the importance of not applying excessive pressure on the pelvic floor. She explains, “We want belly wraps to be a comfortable level of support without feeling too restrictive.”
Two benefits of using a postpartum belly wrap
So what exactly are the postpartum belly wrap benefits?
Many postpartum women swear by them because they can kick start the healing and recovery process. Whether you had a vaginal or c-section delivery, these wraps can provide support to your abdominal muscles and pelvic floor. Belly wraps not only offer the benefit of gentle compression, but they can also reduce swelling and provide lower back support, easing discomfort and encouraging proper posture. Pairing their use with appropriate exercise, adequate rest, core workouts, and pelvic floor exercises can contribute to effective rehabilitation and healing over time.
Postpartum belly wraps provide gentle compression that can help to bring the abdominal muscles back together. This may also speed up the healing process for diastasis recti, which may have separated during pregnancy and birth. It's also important to include an exercise program and healthy diet, plus always consult with your doctor or a physical therapist before starting any new regimen.
A well-fitted postpartum belly wrap can support your core, which reduces the compensatory load on your hips. This hip support can help alleviate any discomfort or pain you may be experiencing. Keep in mind that it’s important to recognize that your body has undergone significant changes and providing ample support is essential during the recovery process.
Belly wraps can immensely contribute to the psychological well-being of a new mother during the postpartum period. One of the primary benefits revolves around body image, an area where many women often struggle post-delivery. Wearing a belly wrap can provide a sense of physical security and help women feel more at ease with their changing bodies. This can lead to boosted self-esteem and a positive mental outlook during a time when hormonal changes may otherwise contribute to feelings of insecurity or stress.
Additionally, the physical support offered by belly wraps often translates to mental comfort, as they can provide a sense of relief from common post-pregnancy discomforts. A good quality belly wrap can also be a gentle reminder to move mindfully, promoting healthier habits and increased body awareness, both of which are beneficial for psychological wellbeing.
When to start using a postpartum belly wrap
This will differ from one person to another, but generally it's best to start within the first few weeks postpartum. During this time, your body initiates the natural healing process and the wrap can support this journey.
Can you use one after a c-section?
Yes! In fact, some doctors recommend using a wrap after a C-section to support the abdomen and alleviate discomfort from the incision. Megan elaborates, “Yes, as long as it is not too sensitive on your scar, this is a case where the belly wraps can be very helpful in providing a little bit of compression/feeling of support without too much pressure.” For me, I only discovered belly wraps when I was in a hospital setting so I definitely felt comfortable using one after my c-sections. If you aren’t offered one, I recommend proactively asking for one!
How long can I wear a wrap?
Some moms wear it for a few weeks, others for a few months. It all depends on your personal comfort and the advice of your healthcare provider. Megan suggests, “Typically, people start wearing one the same day/following day after giving birth, or whenever you find you need it to help you move around.” However, she advises against prolonged use beyond a few weeks postpartum, recommending a supportive compression undergarment instead if you still need support. Megan also highlights the importance of using your deep core muscles for stabilization during movement, exhaling and lightly engaging the core and pelvic floor for activities like getting up from a chair, getting into the car, and lifting a baby.
Considerations when choosing a postpartum belly wrap
- Sizing and fit: An ill-fitting wrap can cause discomfort instead of providing support. Make sure you measure your waist and hips to ensure you get the right size before purchasing.
- Material and comfort: Look for a wrap made of breathable, stretchable fabric that won't irritate your skin.
- Support and adjustability: A good wrap should provide adequate support to your lower back and abdomen, supporting your core. Adjustability is also key for a comfortable fit as your body changes. Consider options that have velcro or hook and loop fasteners.
The best postpartum belly wraps IMO
Since having my first child, the available options for postpartum belly wraps has expanded. Here are the best postpartum belly wraps I've come across.
The Bodily Belly Band is hands down the best postpartum belly wrap out there! Made from a comfy blend of nylon and spandex, this wrap offers a perfect fit and lets your skin breathe. It gently compresses your tummy, giving support to those healing muscles and ligaments after childbirth. It has a three-step fastening system that adjusts as your body changes, so you always get a snug fit. You can wear it discreetly under your clothes and go about your day feeling super comfortable and confident.
The FridaMom Postpartum Abdominal Support Binder is truly a game-changer in terms of value for money. Made with a specially crafted multi-layered laminate material, it provides just the right amount of compression to aid in muscle recovery and support your healing body after childbirth. What really sets the FridaMom Binder apart is its adaptability – it stretches and shrinks with your changing body, ensuring a comfy fit throughout your postpartum journey. Plus, it's got a secure fastening system that lets you adjust it to fit your unique needs.
This wrap incorporates a compression core that delivers targeted compression in a 360-degree fashion around your belly, waist, and hips. This design aims to keep you feeling secure, promote mobility, and provide essential support to your core muscles. The Belly Bandit is latex-free and has up to 9 inches of adjustability for ease and comfort.
Belly wrap FAQs
Can I wear one while pregnant?
No, it's important to wait until after giving birth before you start wrapping your belly. Wearing one during pregnancy can actually do more harm than good. The extra pressure and compression can restrict blood flow to your growing baby and potentially cause other complications. Megan adds, “If you find you need additional support when you’re pregnant, I would recommend a wrap specifically made for pregnancy use.
Does wearing one while sleeping help with healing?
Not necessarily. Megan advises, “We don’t have any evidence that it helps to promote better sleep, and technically you shouldn’t need to have support while sleeping.“ Though a belly band can provide assistance during waking hours and movement, it won't provide extra support when you're lying down. Plus, wearing a belly band while you're comfortably in bed doesn't sound too appealing!
Will the compression get rid of my postpartum pooch?
Getting rid of the postpartum belly, affectionately known as the “postpartum pooch,” involves a combination of a healthy diet, regular exercise, and potentially, and connecting with your core and pelvic floor muscles. The wrap can help support the abdominal muscles while they heal and regain their strength, which can be beneficial in reducing the appearance of the “pooch.” It's also important to remember that the process of recovery varies for each person, so patience and self-compassion are essential.