What is a Postpartum Belly Wrap?

Pregnancy changes your body and it can take time to recover. Some women use a postpartum belly wrap after having a baby to help their muscles.

Studies show that wraps or binders might help with pain and healing after a Cesarean section. They might also help support your organs and muscles as they move back into place after having a baby.

Benefits of Postpartum Belly Wraps

Postpartum belly wraps are sometimes called a belly band or a belly binder. Doctors suggest binding after major abdominal surgery, including after a Cesarean section. There are benefits to using an after-birth belly wrap. 

These include:

  • Helps relieve pain
  • Helps you get moving
  • Helps increase blood flow
  • Helps muscles and incision heal
  • Lowers swelling from surgery
  • Helps with posture

Supporting your pelvic floor. Your organs move and change during pregnancy to make room for a growing baby. During pregnancy, hormones also make your pelvic floor muscles relax. This can cause you to leak urine after having a baby. 

Using a postpartum belly wrap can offer some compression to gently hold your muscles in place as your body heals.

Diastasis recti. During pregnancy, the two large muscles that run down either side of your stomach area split apart as your uterus expands and pushes against them. This is called diastasis recti. Usually, your separated stomach muscles will go back into place on their own by eight weeks postpartum.

Using a wrap can compress and support your muscles as they move back into place. A postpartum belly wrap isn’t a cure for diastasis recti. If you still have an obvious gap between your muscles after eight weeks, you may have a condition called diastasis recti.

Risks of Postpartum Belly Wraps

Postpartum belly wraps are usually used after you have your baby by C section, or cesarean section. While belly wraps have benefits, they might also have risks. 

These can include:

Most of these risks happen because of wearing the wrong kind of belly wrap or wearing it too tightly. Postpartum belly wraps are meant to provide support to your recovering body. Wearing it too tight can do more damage than good.

Continued

Belly wraps aren’t waist trainers. Some people claim that a waist trainer can help you lose weight after pregnancy. There is no evidence of this and a postpartum belly wrap isn’t a waist trainer.

Waist trainers are usually made of hard material that doesn’t allow your body to move and shift very well. This kind of pressure on your waist can cause damage and other risks, including:

Types of Postpartum Belly Wraps

There are many different types of belly wraps available, but not all of them are the best type to use after you have a baby.

Elastic wraps. The best kind of postpartum wrap is made of soft, elastic fabric. It should be flexible enough that you can breathe easily and move and shift. It should be long enough to comfortably wrap around your hips and your abdomen. You can buy an elastic wrap or you can use a long piece of cloth.

Support belt. You can find adjustable support belts available. These may be helpful for your hips and back to support good posture and sore muscles. Both good posture and hip support can help strengthen your pelvic floor.

Shapewear. Some shapewear companies make compression garments just for pregnancy and postpartum. These are elastic but tight enough to compress. Choose your style carefully, though. Some full body suits or high-waisted underwear styles aren’t practical for wearing and changing sanitary pads during your postpartum period. Shapewear might also be too tight.

Safety of Postpartum Belly Wraps

Wearing a belly wrap in the postpartum stage isn’t for everyone. While they can lower pain from surgery and support your recovering body, there are some things you should think about.

Wrap up. The best way to wear a postpartum belly wrap is to use an elastic wrap and start at the hips and wrap up. Wrapping the wrong way can cause downward pressure on your pelvic floor and can cause prolapse.

Give yourself a break. Wearing a belly wrap all day is not a good idea. If you wear a wrap for too long, your abdominal muscles can weaken and cause more problems. Tight clothing should be worn in moderation.

Don’t use trainers, corsets, or cinchers. These tight, hard materials are not safe to wear.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on March 10, 2021

Sources

SOURCES:

American Board of Cosmetic Surgery: “4 Reasons to Throw Your Waist Trainer in the Trash.”

Canadian Physiotherapy Association: “Should women wrap their abdominals post partum?”

Cureus: “Use of Abdominal Binders after a Major Abdominal Surgery: A Randomized Controlled Trial.”

Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Varicose Veins.”

Kansas Journal of Medicine: “Elastic Abdominal Binders Reduce Cesarean Pain

Postoperatively: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial.”

National Health Service: “Your post-pregnancy body.”

University of Rochester Medical Center: "Back Pain in Pregnancy."

World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology International Journal of Medical and Health Sciences: “Effect of Abdominal Exercises versus Abdominal Supporting Belt on Post-Partum Abdominal Efficiency and Rectus Separation.”

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