I recently gave birth to my third child two months ago, and I want to make sure I focus on my postpartum journey as much as I focus on baby’s milestones! This will not only help me become a better mother to my baby and two older children, but will also help strengthen my body, decrease my aches and pains, and give me more energy.
What is belly binding?
Belly binding is found in various cultures around the world, and has just started to catch on in mainstream western culture over the past few years. I first heard about it from my mother, who told me her mother used to wrap a long shawl around her belly after giving birth to all of her children. My mother’s family is from India, and she would tell me about wrapping a sari or a long piece of cloth around her own belly postpartum. I have continued this tradition, and have used belly binding after all three of my babies. I can personally vouch for many of its benefits!
First, what belly binding IS. The idea behind it is that binding your belly compresses your core area, adding support and helping your body put everything back together, so to speak! Your core is weak after going through the process of pregnancy and childbirth, and so in the period right after your baby is born, binding it can help reduce back and other aches and pains, and can actually help you feel more mobile. I know I felt like it really helped hold everything together when I was walking around in the first few days after my babies were born.
Almost as importantly, there are things to remember about what belly binding is NOT. First of all, it is not the same as wearing a waist trainer, and even though at first glance the principles behind these two garments may seem similar, they are not at all. Belly binding is a gentle support, which uses compression to work naturally with your body’s own hormones that are already doing the work of contracting your uterus, and helping everything fit back (or nearly back!) to the way it was before. Waist trainers, on the other hand, only SEEM to be working because they give you a nice shape while you are wearing it. They are less comfortable, more invasive, and work on the principle that you are attempting a certain shape as an ideal. Belly binding allows you to be kind to yourself and work with your body to gradually bring yourself back to a prenatal shape, and focuses more on core support rather than what your body looks like.
Another thing to remember about what belly binding is NOT: it is not a magical solution to postpartum weight loss or anything like that. Belly binding is only ONE tool in your postpartum toolbox, and if you neglect nutrition and fitness, you will not see the results you hope for. While it might seem to be about how you look, belly binding is really about how you feel, and how to support your body as it embarks on the journey of discovering what health after baby looks like.
To summarize, belly binding can help:
- Reduce your tummy pooch
- Support your pelvic floor
- Work with hormones to support your core (moving and shrinking)
- Decrease postpartum aches and pains
Belly Binding Tips
In order for belly binding to work for you and your body, there are important things to remember!
First of all, belly binding only works for the period directly following the birth of your baby. Start wearing your belly binder as soon as possible after coming home from the hospital. The first two weeks after my last baby was born I wore my garment 24/7, all the time. I could feel my core being supported, it helped me move easily and comfortably, and it definitely helped reduce my postpartum aches and pains. After that first two weeks and until six weeks postpartum, I wore it just during the day, and not while I slept. After six weeks and until about nine weeks, I wore it a few hours each day. I’m also gradually starting to work out again, and I do not wear it while I do this. I find that belly binding only works for the first two to three months, really the first two. After this period of time, it just feels like a waist trainer, not working with my body to make its natural changes but just changing my shape while I wear it. If you want to do belly binding, you must do so in the first two to three months after your baby is born.
Secondly, make sure you are getting the right amount of compression with your belly binding! Make sure it isn’t too loose or too tight. For some guidance, if you feel like you are just wearing a tight tee shirt, then it is not tight enough, and will not give you the proper compression you need to experience the full benefits of belly binding. However, you don’t want it too tight either! If you feel very uncomfortable, if you can’t breathe or talk easily, it is too tight. It’s not a corset! It should make you feel MORE comfortable.
Thirdly, get a good quality belly binding garment that works well for you and your body and lifestyle. When I was pregnant for the first time six years ago, I was looking for a band that I could just slip on, that I wouldn’t have to worry about wrapping myself every single day. I also wanted a good quality one that would last if I were to have more kids (I did have two more kids since then, alhumdulilah). I found just such a band, and thoroughly recommend the brand Bellefit. I have their “Postpartum Girdle Corset“. This style has three rows of hooks at the front, which allow me to tighten it as my belly gets smaller. Six years and three babies after purchasing it, I was able to use the same band! I chose the hook closure style over the zipper, because if the zipper breaks, then the whole band is useless. My band has just one wonky hook after all these years, and is still perfectly functional. I find the fit of this band is perfect for me, balancing strong compression with comfort. The hooks at the bottom make washroom use easy and also make the band more comfortable to wear, since it prevents it from moving around too much.
Best Postpartum Belly Binding Garment – Bellefit Review [and coupon code]
Get your Bellefit postpartum band here. Use coupon code “NAZIMA10” to save 10% off at checkout!
To recap, here are three tips for reaping all the benefits belly binding offers:
- Start using the band immediately after giving birth, and for up to three months afterward
- Use appropriate compression (not too loose, not too tight)
- Get a good quality band made for postpartum
Results of Belly Binding – 2 Months Postpartum
Frequently asked questions (FAQ) about belly binding
1. How often should I wear my belly binding?
We already talked about this one a little bit! But I thought I would just say again, it is very important to wear your band immediately after giving birth, as this is when it will make the most difference. As to how often, this varies with how long it’s been since your baby was born! A general rule of thumb is that you wear it 24/7 immediately postpartum, and then start to reduce the time you wear it until you stop entirely around the time your baby is two to three months old. Your body will tell you how often you should be wearing it, if you listen!
2. Is it possible to have a flat stomach after having a baby?
If you had a flat stomach before you got pregnant, you’re more likely to get back to that state. But remember, there is a good chance your body will look different than it did before! Don’t be attached to unrealistic standards. It does take a lot of work to get to that point. Nutrition and fitness is part of this. It won’t correct itself, you need to focus on it. The pooch signifies weak muscles underneath, which is a whole other thing…if you’d like me to create a post on that, comment below and I’ll get to work!
3. Does it help with diastasis recti?
Yes! I will cover this in more detail in later posts. Belly binding won’t heal diastasis recti completely, but it WILL help it.
4. What if I didn’t wear it in previous pregnancies? Is it worth doing it in subsequent pregnancies?
YES! Even if you have been pregnant several times without practicing belly binding, it is absolutely worth getting on board! Since belly binding is only worthwhile immediately after pregnancy so it can work with your body and its hormones to help strengthen your core, it doesn’t matter what you did or didn’t do with previous pregnancies. This moment is all that matters.
5. Is it safe to wear a belly binder after a c-section?
Yes! It is safe to start belly binding 3-5 days after a c-section, or when you feel comfortable and safe to do so. If you’re unsure, consult your physician. For c-section recovery, I’d recommend a girdle-style belly binder with a front closure, as this will be easier for you to put on and remove while protecting your incision.
6. What if it’s too late? What if I’m finding out about this 10 years after my baby was born?
I will start by saying that it is possible to miss the window of opportunity for belly binding. It is only useful for the immediate postpartum period. After a maximum of four months, you won’t see the benefits. However, all is not lost! Belly binding is only one tool in your postpartum journey. The next piece is nutrition and fitness. The ultimate goal of belly binding is to feel better, and strengthen your core. If you are outside the window for it to work, you can still improve your core! You can still strengthen your body! You just have to use different tools to get there now. You’re interested right now in improving your health, and that’s the first step.
Are you ready to work toward strengthening your body? Click here to learn more about The Healthy Muslims Program and we can help you get started on the path to a healthier, stronger body.