Belly Bands and Why You Should Use Them
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Belly Bands are like doulas, they support you through your pregnancy and postpartum!
(Whomp whomp) Sorry… I said sorry!
Belly bands have become pretty popular in the last decade among expecting and new moms! And for good reason.
Abdominal bands have so many benefits to the pregnant and postpartum mother! When you are pregnant, your body goes through so many changes and your body accommodates your growing baby in amazing, and sometimes unbelievable, ways! You can read more about the practice and history of belly binding here.
Towards the end of your pregnancy, your belly can feel very heavy, a lot of pressure is being put on your pelvic floor and your round ligaments are working overtime! Organs are pushed out of the way and your placenta produces a hormone called Relaxin. Relaxin (not to be confused with chillaxin… just kidding, that’s not a thing) is responsible for causing the ligaments in your pelvis to loosen and your cervix to soften. This is obviously necessary for the childbirth process! But after giving birth, moms are left feeling a bit deflated and issues such as diastasis recti (the separation of the abdominal muscles) can start to show up. Phew! Pregnancy and birth is hard work!
So what’s the deal with belly bands?
A belly band during pregnancy has its benefits for sure! Those being that it helps lift the belly up to take a load off the round ligaments and takes pressure off your lower back. Your body changes so much and not only is your baby growing, but you also have the placenta, amniotic fluid, uterus, extra blood, maternal fluid and fat/nutrient stores and breast tissue. These all add up and your back and pelvic floor really start to feel it!
Aaaaaand then there’s postpartum.
After you give birth, not only has your pelvis changed, but your whole core has changed! But the use of an abdominal binder can help with:
supporting the muscles so they can go back to where they should be and heal properly, reducing the chances of diastasis recti,
supporting good posture to relieve back pain,
alleviating pain of cramping by applying gentle pressure.
Although belly bands are good for these things, they unfortunately aren’t a magic solution to shrink your waist back to pre-pregnancy size. Belly bands are for healing. Pelvic Floor Therapists recommend using belly bands because when you support your core, you are protecting and supporting your pelvic floor (the muscles responsible for peeing when you sneeze post-baby). Since your abdomen doesn’t have any bone structure to rely on for strength and protection, it’s important to make sure that the muscles are doing their job and healing properly.
My favorite belly band is the Belly Bandit. (Plus, if you use this link, a 10% discount will be applied to your order!) They are adjustable, they sell extenders, plus they carry bands for moms post-cesarean!
How long should I use a belly band?
Barring any complications with delivery and with the go-ahead from your doctor, these can be used shortly after giving birth and it is recommended to use them for 10-12 hours each day for 6-8 weeks to get the best results. I know it sounds like a long time to wear, but if it is uncomfortable, try wearing it for short periods of time through the day. You’re already uncomfortable from having a baby, you don’t need to make yourself more uncomfortable. Be kind to yourself!
If you have a cesarean birth, you may need to wait a little longer to be able to use a belly band due to having an incision that needs special care. Although, after some time of healing, the pressure is helpful! Just make sure to get the clear from your doctor first.