Postpartum Recovery Wrap, Belly Wrapping, Postpartum Support Wrap, Abdominal binding…..
Many names and many questions.
As pelvic health physiotherapists we get asked about postpartum support wraps ALL. THE. TIME.
Should I ? Shouldn’t I?
What’s the benefit?
How long do I wear it for?
Do I wear it all the time?
Are there things I should do/shouldn’t do while wearing it?
In this post, I am going outline why you might consider a postpartum support wrap and because every pregnancy/person/birth is different- 5 important things YOU should consider when deciding to use a postpartum recovery wrap.
1.Research suggests that 100% of women experience widening of the connective tissue between the abdominals during pregnancy (Sperstad et al. 2016). This matters because we know that when tissue is stretched or under load it cannot contract or generate tension as effectively. So, abdominal binding/belly wrapping can be a great option for diastasis recti (separation of abdominal muscles) recovery and to help with sensory input to facilitate recovery and restoration of abdominal wall function postpartum (Lee, 2016). Additionally, if you had a cesearean section abdominal wrapping offers additional support and sensory input to the abdominal wall which has been surgically opened and closed.
But here’s the important part….
2. Belly wrapping and abdominal binding are meant to be worn for 6-8 weeks postpartum– or less while your tissues are in the acute and subacute healing phase. They are not a fix all- they are meant to support you while your tissues heal and organs find their way back to their pre-pregnancy location. Far too often we see women at 8 months, 10 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 from diastasis recti we know that you need to LOAD the tissue aka if you know you have diastasis recti you can’t just “hang out in the wrap” you should be engaging in appropriate 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.
3. When selecting a binder or wrap you are aiming for light compression that gently “hugs” the abdomen and allows for involution of the uterus (it needs to shrink back and become a pelvic organ again after birth).
Some wraps I have seen create too much compression and increase abdominal pressure which increases pressure downward toward your pelvic floor which is also healing postpartum. Think of squeezing a tube of toothpaste- you DO not want to do that.
Here’s a wrap we like & often recommend —> here
You can also purchase a compression tank top to be worn on top of the wrap- I personally love the tank top as it provides an option for gentle compression as you move away from the ab wrap itself.
The wrap should be adjustable – so that as swelling subsides and uterine involution occurs you can adjust the wrap appropriately to you.
4. You should never feel worse or experience any increased pelvic floor symptoms when wearing the wrap/binder. So if you put the wrap on and all of a sudden notice increased urinary incontinence, increased pelvic or back pain, or pelvic floor heaviness or feeling like there’s something in your vagina, that’s a sure sign that the wrap is too tight and increasing intraabdominal/pelvic pressure.
5. And finally make sure you have a game plan or know how to start to engage your deep core system appropriately postpartum. Most women are safe to being engaging their core and pelvic floor as soon as they feel ready postpartum because let’s face it infant seats, groceries and other kids are HEAVY and you’re going to want to make sure you are engaging your core appropriately.
Our course, Prenatal Pelvic Health- is designed to teach you about all things core and pelvic floor. We teach you how to coordinate & engage your pelvic floor during pregnancy, how to minimize your risk of tearing, what to do if you end up in an emergency c-section or you’re having a planned one, and what are the most important things to do to assist recovery once the baby is in your arms.
Curious to know if the course could help you? Here’s our intro module.
So there you have it ! 5 things to consider if you’re thinking about abdominal binding or wrapping postpartum.
Curious to know what happens during a c-section? We did an awesome, easy to understand demo. And if you’re looking for more tips & education related to pregnancy, birth and postpartum with your core & pelvic floor in mind follow us on instagram @motherhoodlink or check out our other resources here.
Eryn & Katie
Disclaimer: Although we are Physiotherapists we are not YOUR physiotherapist. Information contained on this website is for informational purpose only and is not intended to serve as individual medical advice.
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