This post has been one of our most requested posts. Women are always asking us if we recommend a postpartum abdominal wrap or belly wrapping support postpartum.
And although we wish it was an easy answer. Sometimes it’s yes and sometimes it no. So let us try to walk you through whether or not a postpartum abdominal support could be right for you.
So here are a few things to consider.
100% of women experience widening of the connective tissue between the abdominals during pregnancy (Sperstad et al. 2016). This matters because when tissue is stretched or under load it cannot contract or generate tension as effectively. Additionally, during pregnancy the transverse abdominus, one of our deep abdominal muscles, also get stretched and lengthens as our baby and uterus grows.
So, abdominal binding/belly wrapping postpartum can be a great option for providing support to a diastasis recti (separation of abdominal muscles). It also helps with sensory input to facilitate recovery and restoration of abdominal wall function postpartum (Lee, 2016). Compare it to wearing an ankle brace for a few weeks after an ankle sprain to provide some support.
And, if you had a cesarean section we do recommend abdominal wrapping to provide compression, support and sensory input to the abdominal wall which has been surgically opened and closed. This can be very valuable for pain management, swelling, and compression post cesarean section.
In fact – research suggests that women who wear abdominal compression post cesarean have less pain, less distress scores, better function (can walk further) and may have less blood loss. However more studies are needed as many of the current studies only followed women over 1-5 days postpartum.
So let’s get to the important part….
In general, if you had a significant diastasis recti (usually more than 4 inches that you are unable to manage with proper core coordination) or a c-section, a postpartum abdominal wrap can be a great option for you.
Belly wrapping and abdominal binding are meant to be worn for 6-8 weeks postpartum– or less. This is while your tissues are in the acute and subacute healing phase. But they are not a fix all! They support you while your tissues heal and organs find their way back to their pre-pregnancy location. Far too often we see women at 3 months, 6 months or more postpartum that have only been wearing the wrap (without appropriate exercise and education) and can’t understand why their core isn’t functioning the way they would like.
To recover your abdominal function postpartum we know that you need to LOAD the tissue. AKA -you can’t just “hang out in the wrap” instead you need to learn to be engaging in deep core exercises and movement strategies so that you can learn to generate strength in your pelvic floor and core again postpartum. A women’s health physiotherapist can help you out with that.
So what wrap/or brand do we recommend ?
One of our favorite wraps to recommend is the Ab Wrap by Bellies Inc.
We like it so much we are an affiliate for the company and I (Eryn) personally wore it after the birth of my son. It’s sold by a Canadian company and meets our criteria of what makes a great postpartum abdominal support. There are lots of different postpartum supports on the market, and if you’re curious to know what we believe makes a great support read our post on 5 Things You Should Know About Postpartum Support Wraps.
Sizing yourself for the Ab Wrap by Bellies Inc. is ideally be done during the third trimester. To help you out with sizing we created a video walking you through your measurements.
And once you have your measurements, here’s the sizing chart from Bellies Inc. to determine what size of wrap is appropriate for you.
Postpartum the wrap can be applied as soon as you feel comfortable following birth and we created a step by step video to help you apply the wrap postpartum as well.
So to wrap it up…. (see what I did there)
Wearing a postpartum abdominal wrap can be a great option for many women following birth, especially if they underwent a c-section or are having difficulty generating tension in a diastasis recti (separation of abdominal muscles) or their abdominal wall.
Wraps can help with sensory input to facilitate recovery and restoration of abdominal wall postpartum (Lee, 2016). They offer compression and support which can very helpful for pain management, swelling and getting moving again postpartum.
As always if you have any questions, please reach out to us [email protected]. Or connect with us on social media on instagram and facebook @motherhoodlink.
Eryn & Katie