Do Postpartum Belly Wraps and Bands Actually Work?
Postpartum belly wraps and belly bands are becoming a big trend promoted by celebrities and influencers as a way to support their muscles and abdomen after giving birth, reduce pain and swelling and recover faster to return to a tighter or flatter stomach.
But do postpartum belly wraps actually work?
Postpartum belly wraps can help you heal and recover faster after you have a baby. They can improve posture and reduce pain, making you feel more comfortable and confident during the postpartum period. However, not all wraps are of equal quality.
While they do provide support for recovering muscles, they can’t cure things like ab separation (diastasis recti) or pelvic floor issues that need to be addressed by a medical professional.
Related: The Best Postpartum Workouts for New Moms
Here’s what you can realistically expect from using a postpartum belly wrap or belly band after giving birth.
Why Do You Still Have a Bump After Giving Birth?
A few things happen to your body during pregnancy. Your muscles and ligaments relax so they can stretch and your organs rearrange themselves to make room for your ever-growing uterus. Afterward, everything is still stretched out and out of place and the uterus is still at its large size, which is why you have a postpartum bump.
These changes are generally not permanent, but it does take weeks to months for them to reverse after you are no longer pregnant. A protruding belly after childbirth is caused by the following:
Your baby lives and grows in your uterus. The uterus is the size of your fist before pregnancy, and it expands to fit an 8-pound human.
After giving birth, the uterus may remain enlarged for several weeks as it slowly returns to its pre-pregnancy size.
You probably knew that you gain weight during pregnancy and that your baby and the surrounding fluid cause your belly to pop. But you may not know that more fat accumulates around your abdomen.
Some women retain more fluids after giving birth as a protective response from the body. This increase in fluid can appear as bloating and swelling in the abdomen.
Separation of the Abdominal Muscles
During pregnancy, the rectus abdominis muscles (which run vertically down the abdomen) move away from one another as your belly expands. They can also completely separate, which is known as diastasis recti.
A postpartum belly is completely normal and expected. There is no reason to hide it away if you don’t want to. No one should feel like it’s necessary to rush to “get your figure back”.
This being said, postpartum swelling can be uncomfortable. Many people may be interested in using a postpartum belly band to ease aches and pains and make this recovery phase more manageable.
How do you know what kind of postpartum belly wrap will work best for you?
What Is a Postpartum Belly Wrap?
A postpartum belly wrap is a piece of material that is wrapped snuggly around your core, with the purpose of applying light compression to your midsection to help the uterus shrink back to its previous size.
The band or wrap helps to keep everything in place after you have a baby, promoting healing and decreasing your level of discomfort. These wraps can also support your core muscles to improve your posture and reduce swelling.
How to Use a Postpartum Belly Band
To use a postpartum belly band, start with only your underwear on. Wrap the band at your hips. Continue wrapping as you move up your torso. Put your clothing over the band. It’s fine to wear loose or stretchy clothing such as leggings, as long as you feel comfortable and can move easily.
You can start using a belly band right after giving birth with your doctor’s OK, and you will get benefits from wearing it over the next four to six weeks.
The first few weeks postpartum are for rest and recovery. It’s important not to jump back into your usual exercise routine too quickly as you may cause more damage to the muscles.
Benefits of Postpartum Belly Binding
Using a belly binder after giving birth has many benefits. Let’s break down a few of the reasons why you might want to try one.
Allows Muscles and Organs to Move Back Into Place
During pregnancy, things have gotten out of place in your body. The front two abdominal muscles will always have stretched apart at least a small amount, and a binder can help them to move back into place.
Note that an abdominal binder cannot fix a full separation of the abdominal muscles (diastasis recti). This can only be repaired surgically.
If you are feeling self-conscious about your postpartum body, that’s normal. The band not only keeps everything a little more tucked in but it helps you get your figure back sooner.
Belly bands are recommended by doctors after having a Cesarean section to help with healing. They may reduce swelling and allow you to move more comfortable as you recover.
When you wear a band, you automatically have good posture. This can help to ease lower back pain as your organs and muscles heal and move back into their proper places. It can also help to strengthen muscles in your core that have been weakened during pregnancy.
Standing taller can give you a confidence boost too, which can have a domino effect in making you feel better during these challenging weeks.
People who wear belly bands after having a baby report less pain. This may because the band offers back support and helps to reduce swelling and increase blood flow.
Supports Pelvic Floor
Weakened muscles and the pressure of your uterus during pregnancy can impact the pelvic floor muscles. This means that you may have trouble with incontinence while pregnant that continues after you give birth. Abdominal wraps can help prevent this and help to re-strengthen your core and pelvic floor.
Note that wearing a band that is rigid or too tight can have the opposite effect and lead to a pelvic prolapse (more on this in safety precautions).
Risks and Precautions of Belly Wraps
There are a few safety precautions to bear in mind if you use a postpartum belly wrap. Be aware of the following:
Choose Givable Materials
It’s important to use only soft materials that allow you to move while wearing a wrap. Do not use hard materials like waist trainers or corsets. These products can cause a lot of problems when used postpartum, including shortness of breath and fainting, heartburn and digestive issues, and even organ damage.
Make Sure Your Wrap Is Not Too Tight
You want to wrap it snuggly, but not tightly. You should feel comfortable and be able to breathe and move easily in your wrap. If it feels tight, cuts into your skin, or prevents you from moving, take it off and rewrap it, or find another wrap. All you need is gentle compression.
Take Breaks Without the Wrap
Belly bands aren’t meant to be worn constantly. Wear your wrap in moderation. Consider taking it off to sleep at night. Wearing a belly band constantly may leave you with an itchy or uncomfortable skin rash.
When putting on a belly band, always wrap upwards. During pregnancy, your muscles have loosened up and your organs have shifted around. The contents of your uterus have also put a considerable amount of pressure on your pelvic floor.
Wrapping down can add to that pressure, making it harder for your pelvic floor muscles to heal and strengthen, and possibly causing a pelvic prolapse.
Best Postpartum Belly Wraps
Most postpartum wraps are wide elastic bands that cover most of your core. There are also shape belts, which are a bit thinner and cover the hips and lower part of the belly. Some companies have started to make shapewear designed to wear postpartum as well.
We talked to new moms and scoured the market for the very best belly binders to use during your postpartum recovery.
What to Look For
When shopping for a wrap to wear postpartum, look for:
- Able to fit discreetly and comfortably under clothing
- Easy to put on and take off, such as velcro
- Soft, breathable materials that allow you to move and feel comfortable
Our tops picks:
Belly Bandit wraps are made from a breathable, stretchy fabric that is comfortable to wear for extended periods of time.
Belly Bandit wraps are designed to fit well under clothing, as they are made from thin, stretchy fabrics that provide compression without adding bulk. The simple, stretchy design can be easily adjusted to fit your body and the hook-and-loop closure allows you to easily put the wrap on and take it off as needed.
- Made from a soft, stretchy fabric that is comfortable to wear
- Provides gentle compression to the abdomen, hips, and lower back
- Helps support the abdominal muscles and reduce swelling and discomfort
- Can be easily adjusted to fit your body
- Fits well under clothing
Bellefit postpartum girdles are designed to provide targeted support to the abdominal muscles, hips, and lower back. They are made from a supportive, breathable material that is designed to stay in place during movement.
However, these girdles are typically bulkier and may be more noticeable under clothing than other types of wraps. They may also be a bit more difficult to put on and take off due to their more structured design and multiple hook-and-eye closures.
- Provides medical-grade compression to help reduce swelling and support healing
- Offers different styles and levels of compression to suit different needs
- Can be worn immediately after giving birth for optimal support
These Shrinkx postpartum belly wraps use medical-grade compression to support the abdominal muscles and help the uterus shrink back to its pre-pregnancy size.
The wraps are made from a soft, stretchy material that is comfortable to wear all day and can be worn discreetly under your clothing. It’s easy to put on and take off. Wraps feature a simple slip-on design or hook-and-loop closure.
- Can be easily adjusted to fit your body
- Provides support to the lower back and hips as well as the abdomen
- Fits well under clothing
Belly Wraps Can Help Recovery But Not Alone
Postpartum belly wraps can help support your core as your body heals from childbirth and bounces back after pregnancy. They won’t, however, make you lose weight or shrink your waistline.
Think of a wrap as one small part of your recovery. Whether or not you use a wrap, eating well and exercising as much as your doctor says you can is most important.
Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns about wearing a belly wrap during your postpartum days.
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Elisa is a well-known parenting writer who is passionate about providing research-based content to help parents make the best decisions for their families.