I think most women agree, that one of their main concerns when they get pregnant, asides from a health pregnancy and baby, is getting their body back and hoping we don’t get the dreaded ‘Mummy Tummy’. Before getting pregnant, I had heard about belly binding or “wrapping” techniques postpartum that Asian and French women have been swearing by for centuries. Belly wrapping can be done using corsets, wraps, compression garments, soft muslin shawls, you name it. The theory behind this technique is that, during pregnancy, a woman’s organs and muscles shift and expand to make room for a baby, and belly wrapping encourages your muscles and organs to go back to they way they used to be as soon as possible. Post labour and delivery, your organs are swollen and this is supposed to help bring the swelling down. It is recommended to begin wrapping immediately and continue to do so daily until 6-8 weeks post partum for best results.
During my pregnancy, I did a lot of research on belly wrapping and read that the main culprit behind the “Mummy Tummy” is Diastisis Recti, where your abs separate. Belly banding supposedly helps bring those muscles back together. In addition to help bringing them back together, other pros to belly wrapping include providing pelvic support and lower back support.
With all these potential pros, I was convinced that belly wrapping was something I was going to do postpartum. For best results, you should begin on day one. As a result, I needed to figure out which technique I was going to use and what I was going to buy before I went into labour.
There are a lot of options out there, but I wanted one that was relatively comfortable and easy to use. I found that the muslin wraps required a very specific technique and quite frankly, I didn’t have the patience to learn it. Not to mention, that with a newborn, it was unlikely I’d find the time to actually do it. There were raving reviews on corsets and some were even medical grade, but I didn’t like the fact that to wear it, you had to pull it up through your legs. I thought to myself, if I end up having a vaginal birth, I’m not quite sure how comfortable I will be with a corset that fastens down below (and boy am I glad I thought about that!). A fellow mom told me that she really liked her Belly Bandit, and after weighing out all the options, the Original Belly Bandit seemed like the best option. I share some progress pictures below (apologies for the poor quality of pictures and the mess in my room, but with a newborn, you can imagine how hard it is to find any time to yourself!).
The belly bandit is a latex free velcro wrap and comes in black or nude. It comes in sizes ranging from XS to XL. Some places it advertises it as being discreet and you can wear it under your clothes, but I found no such thing. It didn’t show under baggy clothes, but there was no way I’d ever wear it under something tight to give me a slimmer appearance. Perhaps the more traditional type looking corsets are better for that.
In order to determine what size you should get, there is a chart that estimates what size you will need postpartum, based on how big your belly is measuring around the 34 weeks mark of your pregnancy or later (I went in around 36 weeks). You can refer to their sizing calculator online, but I went into a local Snuggle Bugz and the sales associate measured me and placed the order and it was delivered to my door a few days later.
When I was preparing to leave the hospital, I tried wrapping the belly bandit around me, but it wouldn’t fit over my belly. Initially, I was upset that I had been advised to purchase the wrong size and that I would be set back in my ‘belly wrapping journey’. However, after a few days, my belly shrunk (it’s incredible what a woman’s body is capable of) and the recommended size (Small) was perfect. As weeks progressed and my belly shrunk, I found that the small was too big and no longer effective. I ended up buying a second wrap in an XS, which lasted me until the 6-8 week mark. I would wrap it as tightly as I could and would even get my mom, mother in law or husband to help. The tighter, the better!
It is recommended that you wear it all the time (except for when you shower), even at night to sleep. Although I wore it as many hours as I could throughout the day, I never ended up wearing it to sleep. I found it too uncomfortable and it would interfere with the quality of my sleep. Additionally, at times I found the material to be slightly itchy and that would prompt me to take it off for a bit and give it a break. I continued using it up until about 7 weeks.
In terms of if it works, I have to say, I was very happy with my decision to go with the Belly Bandit. As per usual, my husband was very skeptical of what I was doing (as he is with all my beauty hacks), but after wearing it for a few hours, when I took it off, he was amazed at how much of a difference it made. It really compressed my belly and helped with the swelling. Now let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, my belly wasn’t miraculously back to pre baby condition after 7 weeks of use, but it was a lot further along that I thought it would be. They say it takes 9 months for your body to make a baby and it can take up to year for your body to fully recover and your muscles and organs to go back to their original place. I found that at around the three month mark, my stomach flattened a bit more and recently at around the 8 month mark, just when I thought my stomach was never going to back to what it was, it recently shrunk again. It just goes to show that we just need to be patient and it takes time for our bodies to fully recover. And although my body isn’t quite the same, it’s getting there, slowly, and it may never go back to being what it was, and that’s fine too.
Some images of my progress below. Please note, images at 3 and 6 weeks postpartum are taken immediately after I took the belly bandit off. I found that immediately after you took the belly wrap off, your stomach would be really compressed and then a few hours later it would expand, so the results immediately after taking off the wrap are slightly exaggerated.