I first came across the subject of "belly binding" (or abdominal binding/compression) when I came across a product called the Belly Bandit. At first glance, I thought this was some new Hollywood-inspired fad that allowed women to look as if they had never been pregnant just days after birth. When I looked into it, however, I found that women outside of the United States have been practicing abdominal binding after birth as a way to shrink, tone and strengthen abdominal muscles and skin. The practice involves wearing a compression wrap around the mid-section, sometimes extending down over the top of the hips, beginning in the first day or two after birth and up to six to 12 weeks postpartum.
With my most recent pregnancy, the concept of belly binding intrigued me not only because the idea of shrinking my postpartum belly faster sounded appealing, but because I remember just how weak my abdominal muscles felt after the birth of my last two children. There are a variety of options and costs for abdominal compression wraps, ranging from as low as $15 for a no-frills, medical-looking device (like this one) up to $80 for the more haute couture options. Prior to birth and based on the advice of this article on belly binding options, I purchased a simple one-piece girdle for about $15. In addition, I also requested from my midwife while in the hospital a simple, medical-grade abdominal binder (which is usually given to moms after a c-section to aid in healing). After the birth of my third baby, my abdominal muscles felt weaker than I remember feeling for any of my prior births. When I stood up, it felt as if my gut would just plop out of my body! When the nurse brought me the abdominal binder, I put it on immediately -- the relief was instant! I felt amazing! Like magic, I had strength and support and could easily get in and out of bed, maneuvering my body with more assurance than just a few minutes before.
Upon coming home, I continued to wear the abdominal binder throughout the daytime hours (they are recommended to be worn at night too for maximum effectiveness, but I took a break). The biggest complaint I have about the binder I received from the hospital is the itchiness of the material. I have found that wearing a thin tank top underneath makes it much more comfortable. And this, I imagine, is where it would make sense to invest more money in some of the other binding options, as they are made with higher quality material that can be worn more comfortably against the skin.
As for results, I am two weeks into the process and have noticed a considerable difference in how quickly my postpartum belly has shrunken down, not to mention the speed with which my abdominal muscles seem to have recovered. I am a believer in belly binding! In fact, I've been saying that this is my newest piece of must-know advice for expectant moms. Whether it's your first or your fifth, you can benefit and feel better from abdominal binding after birth.