The Benefits of Wearing a Belly Wrap After Pregnancy
From Angelina Jolie to Jessica Alba, celebs are touting the belly wrap as the next-best-thing-to-liposuction, without the risks of cosmetic surgery. While star endorsers give the sense that belly wraps (also known as abdominal binders) are a recent trend, they’ve actually been around for centuries. Aside from their postpartum usage, these have also been used to help people suffering from back pain, by increased abdominal support. Dr. Jay Goldberg of California says his practice has prescribed abdominal binders for a long time for back problems, tummy tucks, and as a recovery tool to help women recovering from vaginal delivery or C-sections. Alongside a healthy diet and exercise, advocates say that tummy wraps can help shrink the mummy tummy and offer support for the legs and back. But is it a gimmick or god’s gift to women? If you aren’t sure, here are some things to consider.
When did it begin?
From the Japanese “sarashi”, to the “faja” used by Latinas, and the plethora of similar belly wraps throughout Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and South America, the waist band goes back to ancient times. It is only recently that North American women have gotten on to the trend.
How do they work?
Belly wraps create a gently compressing tension on the abs that may assist the uterus’ return to its normal size. Another benefit is the increased confidence that comes with how women fit in their clothes, while wearing their waist bands. There are several belly wraps on the market, but doctors consistently recommend that women don’t expect them to restore their pre-pregnancy belly within a week or two. Doctors say they can be put on after delivery and suggest they be worn throughout the day for at least four to six weeks, for maximum benefits.
80% to 99% of pregnant women experience a condition known as diastasis recti, or abdominal separation (1). This condition causes the abdominal muscles to separate, stretch, and thins the connective tissue that binds them. For this condition wearing an abdominal splint can help.
No Belly Wrap-Fits-All
Belly wraps or corsets are typically $20 to $50 each and concentrate on the hips or the mid-section. Because they can vary greatly in feeling and may need to be switched out as one’s girth decreases, women should try on several and be prepared to go through a few. While waist bands can certainly help with how women feel in their clothes, medical practitioners caution women against expecting the natural feelings of discomfort that can accompany their new post-baby bodies to disappear overnight and advise them to be kind with themselves, their bodies, the recovery process, and above all, to resist the temptation to compare themselves to those rare birds who seemingly overnight get their pre-baby bodies back (2).
“No one’s really okay with their body after their baby,” said Inwood resident Sindy Sanchez, “but no one talks about it.” And they certainly don’t talk about the methods they use to get their bodies back, unless of course, they’re Jessica Alba.
1. Lisa Marsh, “Women try body wraps after pregnancy to get that Jessica Alba look,” NY Daily News, http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/mommy-mummy-post-pregnancy-wrap-sessions-big-article-1.1334647.
2. “Belly Wrap,” The Band Specialist, http://www.thebandspecialist.com.