How to Choose Shapewear After Pregnancy

Medically Reviewed by Nivin Todd, MD on July 11, 2023
4 min read

The early days of motherhood are filled with joy, sleepless nights, and many firsts for you and your baby. As you navigate life with your new little one, you will also be navigating the healing process for your postpartum body. After carrying your child for 9 months, your body has been through a lot! It might take time to adjust to your new normal, but give yourself grace as you’re healing. In the meantime, shapewear is an excellent way to support your body in the weeks after your baby’s birth. 

Shapewear is a compression garment made of nylon or spandex designed to fit tightly around your midsection. There's a wide range available to new moms.

Shapewear includes postpartum girdles, support belts, belly wraps, recovery belts, and more. While each offers its own unique style and benefits, shapewear's purpose is to provide support for the muscles in your abdomen and spine.

Shapewear offers a wide range of benefits to new mothers, including:

  • Reducing back and pelvic pain
  • Promoting postpartum recovery
  • Supporting posture 
  • Supporting improved mobility

Postpartum shapewear can provide additional compression for mothers recovering from a cesarean section delivery or diastasis recti. After giving birth, the muscles may be sore, weakened, or overused. Shapewear can help you feel more supported throughout the day. 

When it comes to postpartum recovery, every woman’s experience is unique. If you’re having pelvic pain after childbirth, you should seek the care of your doctor or a physician who specializes in postpartum healing.

If your doctor recommends postpartum shapewear to you, there are several things to consider. The pros of wearing shapewear include:

Quicker recovery. Studies show that proper postpartum binding may reduce time in the hospital by helping new mothers gain mobility more quickly after delivery. Recovery belts or belly bands can help you regain the abdominal strength to lift your newborn child. 

Faster C-section recovery. Recovering from a cesarean section delivery can take longer than a vaginal birth. Research indicates that recovery belts and postpartum girdles can help new moms manage pain and distress post-surgery.

Pain management. For new mothers, shapewear is an excellent way to help manage pain after delivery. The compression of a girdle or belt can help manage lower back pain, cramping, and pelvic pain when used consistently.

Improved confidence. Many new mothers experience a challenging transition from pregnancy to postpartum life. Some mothers feel that the gentle compression helps them feel more confident as their bodies heal. 

As with any product, there are a few downsides to using a belly band or girdle postpartum.

You may have skin irritation. Some women have skin reactions to wearing postpartum shapewear. If you get any rash or skin irritation, check with your doctor before continuing to use shapewear.

Because postpartum support belts and shapewear work best when worn consistently, many new mothers find them to be uncomfortable. You may dislike the feeling of compression or the way it fits under your clothes. Fortunately, there are multiple styles of shapewear to meet your preferences and comfort level.

Choosing the right shapewear can help you navigate the healing process comfortably and confidently. Each style of postpartum shapewear offers unique benefits.

One style of shapewear, called belly belts or belly bands, is typically a wide elastic band that gently compresses your midsection from ribs to hips. There are many styles, from very rigid to very flexible, but research shows that mothers manage pain more effectively with a flexible band.

Another style is the abdominal binder. Abdominal binders are designed to offer support after surgery and are often prescribed to mothers recovering from cesarean section. Abdominal binders offer a stronger degree of compression, helping to manage the pain and speed up recovery time post-C-section.

If neither of those works for you, try a pregnancy corset — the term for a wide range of shapewear with varying levels of compression. It is important to choose a corset or girdle specifically designed for postpartum recovery. Non-pregnancy corsets or waist trainers can be too tight or cause injury. Ask your doctor if you're in doubt.

As you look for the right shapewear to support your post-delivery recovery, keep these tips in mind:

  • Shapewear should meet your budgetary needs.
  • Choose postpartum wear that you are comfortable wearing consistently.
  • Shapewear should be easy for you to put on and take off safely.
  • Shop for belts, girdles, or bands that fit your body type. 

Always consult with your doctor before incorporating shapewear into your recovery.