Belly Binding Postpartum: What are the Benefits?

Belly Binding post pregnancy is nothing new, as a matter of fact, many different ancient cultures have used this practice for centuries.  I’m sure it was not for aesthetic reasons. My belief, is that women had to go back to work, whether in the fields, or carving stone, and needed some extra support. Hence, they would wrap their belly. Who knows, I might be very wrong about it. The point is, it’s nothing new.

This practice became popular again in our western culture not that long ago. When I Googled “belly binding in postpartum period”, I came across one of the posts titled: Every Mom Should Wear a Postpartum Girdle. You may be asking yourself, ‘do I really need one’?  I don’t know, but my curiosity was strong and I decided that it was worth it for me to explore belly binding as a post pregnancy solution to a flat stomach.

There is no research to show that it works – the way we imagine it should work, – making our stomach flat. I stumbled upon some research from the Department of Physical Therapy for Obstetrics & Gynecology of Cairo University, that shows that abdominal exercise in the postpartum period is superior to wearing a postpartum belt.

Researchers from the Cairo University in Egypt, conducted a study, where they divided postnatal women in two groups. Group A used a postnatal belt from day 2 to 6 weeks post-delivery, every day, all day, with a break at night.  Group B used appropriate abdominal exercises only, from day 2 to 6 weeks, post-delivery. In this specific study, women who exercised, achieved a significantly higher level of abdominal restoration and abdominal muscle strength, than women who only wore a belt.

We cannot completely discredit the belt. As much as it is easier to regain core strength (not always) after the first pregnancy, it is not as easy after the second or third. A supportive postpartum belt worn for some time (example 3h/day) during the day, in the early period, could be beneficial. Combining belt and exercises sounds like a perfect solution when it comes to multiple pregnancies. I am speaking from experience; however, I did not find any available research on that. What I found, were some myths regarding postpartum belts or girdles persist in our culture.

Myth #1: Belly Binding Will Get My Abs Back

Unfortunately, it won’t. If it’s your first pregnancy, you’ll find that your shrinking uterus and core muscles, along with all the misplaced organs, will find their place a little faster than with subsequent pregnancies. You will need a core workout that is appropriate for postpartum women, in order for your stomach to flatten. It will take time, and some work. You might be stuck with some stretched out skin.

Myth #2: It Will Help Me Lose Weight

Belly binding/wraps won’t help you lose weight. You might feel that temporarily, but that feeling and appearance of tightness will go away within a day or two.

Myth #3: It Will Keep My Posture Aligned

This one is true, to some degree. If you decide to use the belt, you will feel support and proper alignment, and your organs won’t feel like they’re going to spill out. I wore one for 2 weeks after the second baby, for that reason. If I wanted to carry her, I had to support my core. Again, it is temporary. When you take the belt off, your muscles will have to do the work and keep you in proper alignment. Do not rely on the belt only, and do not wear it for more than few hours a day, because that may cause your core to become even weaker.

In the end, as much as belt can be helpful in those early days postpartum, you will need to regain your strength the old fashion way, through exercise. Not just any set of core exercises, but specific for your condition. Academy of Science, Engineering and TechnologyInternational Journal of Medical, Health, Biomedical, Bioengineering and Pharmaceutical Engineering Vol:7, No:1, 2013

About the Author : Ania Schietzelt
Ania Schietzelt
Ania Schietzelt NASM Personal Trainer and mom of 2 living in NYC. On a mission to find healthy balance through exercise in her life and help other women to do the same, because “the greatest gift you can give your family and the world, is a healthy You”.

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