Monday, October 26, 2015

Guest Post | Post-Pregnancy Belly Wrapping

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Post-Pregnancy Belly Wrapping

Guest Post by Stephanie Miles from PurpleLaurel.com


When Tiara recently posted about her physical journey after having baby Emerson, it really struck a chord with me because I know so many of us moms struggle with how our bodies look post-pregnancy. Even though we know that our bodies won’t just “bounce back” after childbirth—unless maybe you’re Gisele Bundchen—I think that most of us still hope that we’ll be the outliers whose bodies will look even better than they did pre-kids.

Without a doubt, I believe that there’s no substitute for healthy eating and exercise when it comes to toning up after pregnancy. However, I’m also a big fan of postpartum belly wrapping, and I think it’s something that women don’t hear enough about.

The Options
Doing research on the various belly band styles is the last thing most moms want to deal with when they’re just getting home from the hospital. The sheer number of options can be overwhelming. When a new mom asks me what type of belly wrap she should buy, I almost always start by asking her to tell me about her childbirth experience.

Women who’ve had c-section surgery need wide, firm compression garments that are going to provide as much support as possible. It may sound counter-intuitive, but the tighter the wrap is cinched, the more comfortable your muscles will be while recovering from abdominal surgery.

Most moms who’ve had healthy, vaginal births are looking at postpartum wrapping as a way to decrease bloating and minimize stretch marks. Compression is important here, too, but so is selecting a wrap made from softer materials that won’t itch or irritate the skin.

Women with diastasis recti, which is an abdominal separation that happens when the space between your left and right belly muscles widens, benefit from the regular use of compression wraps immediately following childbirth, as well. A high-quality support wrap can stabilize the abdomen and allow women with diastasis recti to exercise, or in some cases just pick up their babies, without as much pain.

The Benefits
Around the world, women in all different cultures use postpartum belly wrapping for support, stability, and comfort during childbirth recovery. In the United States and Europe, we tend to focus more on the esthetic benefits—such as toning abdominal muscles, reducing water retention, and accelerating fat burning—but I believe those benefits are secondary. When it’s done correctly, belly wrapping should be able to speed up the healing process, reduce back and shoulder pain, improve posture, and relieve muscle tension in the torso.

Any woman who has had a c-section knows how painful it can be to sneeze or even cough in the weeks afterward. Proper belly wrapping can minimize that discomfort. And the great thing about a wrap, specifically, is that you can continue to tighten it until you get the desired effects.

The Fit
Belly wrap sizing is another point of confusion for lots of women. Every manufacturer will have slightly different sizing recommendations, but here’s my basic advice: If you’re still pregnant, measure your belly at 8 months and choose the corresponding wrap as your size. If you’re 9 months pregnant, subtract 3 to 5 inches and select that size. If you’re like I was, and your belly seems extra large, you can also play it safe by selecting one size up from your pre-pregnancy size. Most belly wraps are designed with five inches of adjustability, so there’s plenty of leeway built in. Girdles with hook closures can be harder to fit, so you may want to hold off on buying one until after your baby is born.

The Reality Check
Belly wrapping is not a cure-all for every postpartum ailment, and it certainly isn’t going to give you six-pack abs overnight. Although belly wrapping isn’t going to harm you, I have spoken to physicians who advised women not to wear belly bands if they have postpartum incontinence or prolapse. Both of these issues can be made worse under the constant pressure of an abdominal brace.

The truth is, postpartum belly wrapping is just one of many components in a childbirth recovery plan that should also includes healthy eating and moderate exercise. Belly wraps work best when they are worn for at least 30 minutes at a time—up to 18 hours per day—for the first one to three months after delivery.

My Picks
A search for postpartum belly wraps online will bring up hundreds of thousands of results at all different price points and quality levels. Here are my picks for the best wrap options, based on our selection at Purple Laurel.

Best For C-Section Recovery: Postpartum Waist Cincher
Best For Ab Tightening: PL Compression Wrap
Best For Back Support: Wide 4B Support Belt
Best For Long-Term Waist Slimming: Postpartum Compression Girdle

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