I often get asked by women if they should wear some sort of belly support after having a baby. There are a lot of belly bands, girdles, binders, waist trainers, support garments, etc. on the market, so it can be confusing to know what, if any, you should invest in. Let’s dive into what some of these claim to provide, some considerations, and support that may be a better option for you.
There are different types of belly support products which have important differences when it comes to healing.
I’ve seen many different girdles, waist trainers, and binders claiming that they can help bring your abs back together after baby and help you have a flat stomach. These are rigid and are meant to be worn very tightly which makes it pretty difficult to move freely when worn.
Because of how rigid they are, instead of strengthening the core muscles, they tend to direct more pressure into your pelvic floor which will be in a bit of a vulnerable state early postpartum (regardless of how you gave birth).
And this can actually hinder the healing of your core and pelvic floor. We WANT our core muscles to be able to do what they need to in order to heal and function well (without a limiting support device on all the time).
If you had a c-section, the rigidity of these products can irritate your scar and cause discomfort.
The before and after photos of women that wore these kinds of rigid girdles and “shrunk their bellies down” or “healed their diastasis recti” can be tempting, but remember that before and after photos don’t tell the whole story.
Also, there’s no research that supports the claims that they can actually do these things…
This is an example of a rigid postpartum wrap or girdle.
A more helpful support option.
While I don’t recommend rigid supports like mentioned above, there are some alternatives that can provide some gentle support without the unwanted side effects of potentially putting more stress on your pelvic floor. Postpartum recovery bands and garments (panties, shorts, and pants) can provide support without being super compressive or restrictive.
These can feel really nice while still allowing you to move freely and use your core muscles how you need to throughout the day. And if you had a c-section, these may feel really helpful in supporting your scar and abdomen after surgery.
Support without a lot of compression is what you are looking for here.
A few brands that I often recommend to clients (I have no affiliation with them, other than me personally or colleagues wearing and liking the gentle support they provide) are the Lululemon Aligns, and the SRC and Bao Bei recovery bottoms. There are plenty of others and although it certainly is NOT required for postpartum recovery, it can feel good to have just a bit of support in those early days postpartum when everything feels so different in your body.
There is so much pressure on women to “bounce back” quickly after having a baby that oftentimes, some of the things that they resort to can actually put them at risk for core and pelvic floor issues.
Although the rigid supports are often thought to help heal a diastasis recti or shrink your belly, you don’t need them to rebuild a strong and functional core and pelvic floor.
Instead, bringing awareness to YOUR body and how you can move in a way that will aid recovery, progressively challenging your core and full body to get stronger, and improving your overall athleticism to be functional is going to help you get back into doing the things you love. Working with a qualified coach and following a postpartum-specific program can help you do this.
For more on postpartum recovery and returning to exercise, download my free guide HERE.