Have you heard about this belly binding thing? If you’ve had a baby, and are not in the 0.000000000000000000000000000000001 percent of women who snap on a flat tummy immediately following delivery, you know that it takes a while for your stomach to go back to normal afterward. Part of the issue is excess skin that was stretched over your baby, part is the fat you may have accumulated over the baby, and part is the fact that your stomach muscles get strained and separated from holding the baby in (that’s called a diastasis). The theory behind belly binding is that by holding your stomach in for the weeks after delivery, you’ll support your back while your abs heal, help your diastasis to come back together, and encourage your skin to snap back more quickly.
Being a sucker for such promises, and because two girls I know had positive experiences with one wrap in particular, I decided to try it.
I ordered a Baboosh Taut because that is the wrap the girls I know had tried, and I also got a generic abdominal binder like hospitals give out to women who have had c-sections. The generic binders can be found in drugstores and pharmacies for $20-$30, and the Taut runs $56-$62.
Using the binders immediately after delivery was GREAT. After my first two babies I found it weird to adjust to the sudden lack of baby weight in front, which threw off my posture and made my back hurt, plus it’s demoralizing to have all this random skin on your stomach once it’s not stretched cutely over a baby, you know? Using the binders supported my back, helped cut down on afterpains (the contraction type pain from your uterus going back down to regular size, which is worse after your second and subsequent babies), and really helped me not feel so swollen and weird.
After the initial few days postpartum, I think the binders helped me to avoid the types of pulling and lifting motions that can make a diastasis worse, and continued to support my back. I was never able to be comfortable wearing them at night, so maybe I would have had more dramatic results if I had done that, but I still lost 3 more inches off of my stomach than I have in previous pregnancies by 6 weeks post-partum. It didn’t help me lose weight, sadly, but losing inches is nothing to scoff at!
Baboosh Taut vs. Generic Abdominal Binder
Since the Taut costs so much more than the generic binder, you might be wondering if it’s worth the money. The Taut is much softer and less scratchy than the generic, but is sort of difficult to adjust because it only has one stripe of velcro. The generic binder I have has three horizontal sections with separate velcro so you can adjust it better if your waist happens to be smaller than your hips, as is the case with me. If you have a rectangle shape, you probably would love the Taut. If you have an hourglass shape, you might prefer the generic. In either case, do not be fooled into thinking these binders are invisible under clothes. They aren’t. You can totally see them if you’re wearing a shirt that at all hits your skin. However, under a sweater they look great.
I found that I liked one or the other of the binders better at different times. I’m still using them while I exercise to help my stomach muscles continue to stay together (especially during weights and ab work), and I find that alternating days with them helps them retain their shape and allows me to wash them since they have to air dry. I would imagine that if you’re able to wear them at night, you’d definitely want two so you could wash them.
More about post-partum abs:
I think the best thing you can do about a baby belly is work to support your stomach and back during pregnancy and work to heal a diastasis afterwards (and you almost certainly have one – it’s very rare not to get at least a small one during a pregnancy, from what I’ve read). After Hannah was born I found a great book called “Lose Your Mummy Tummy” detailing how to heal your abs after pregnancy, and I also got the companion book “Maternal Fitness” by the same author, which describes how to work on your abs and back during pregnancy to minimize discomfort, help in labor, and ensure that you recover faster. I’d highly recommend both books.
I’d be interested to hear if any readers have tried abdominal binders, or have other thoughts or tricks for post baby bellies!