Belly bands have been shown to provide posture support while reducing pain in pregnant women. But what about using belly bands after delivery—should you consider wearing one to improve your abdominal strength and get your waist back to its former glory?
Dr. Carolyn Thompson, a Nashville-based OB/GYN, said belly bands during pregnancy have been shown to provide back support and ease pain, but they aren’t necessarily needed after delivery.
In abdominal surgery, binders are only used when individuals have had vertical midline incisions—something rarely done with cesareans these days, Thompson explained. In those circumstances, belly bands are used to provide greater support for the abdominal wall during healing to minimize tension on the wound. “Most postpartum women would not need it for this reason, but, as something to provide more comfort, it is certainly worth a try if a woman wants,” she said.
There are belly bands (also known as binders) intended for use during pregnancy, and separate ones marketed for postpartum.
“I don’t necessarily recommend them for all patients, but would not discourage them, as they provide extra support and may make women more comfortable postpartum,” Thompson added.
Jessica Anderson, who heads up midwifery and is an assistant professor at the University of Colorado College of Nursing, said she does not recommend the bands for all women because there isn’t enough evidence to determine if they are beneficial.
Notwithstanding, Anderson does not discredit that some new mothers may find it helpful to wear a belly band.
“Wearing a band or support belt may help ease some of the discomforts which make day to day activities challenging,” Anderson said, adding that it’s important for women to also look at underlying causes of discomfort.
“There aren’t any reasons that women should not wear them,” she said.
If toning up is your reasoning behind committing to a belly band though, studies suggest working out instead, if you’re able to.
A 2013 study in International Scholarly and Scientific Research & Innovation found that abdominal exercises from two days to six weeks after vaginal delivery resulted in improved abdominal muscles strength and lower inter-recti muscle distance compared to those who used a supportive band.