WHAT'S THE 411 ON POSTPARTUM BELLY BINDING?

A very common question I get from the pregnant women I treat is about postpartum belly binding or wrapping.

I don’t routinely recommend it. I’ve personally done it and not done it after my pregnancies.

So, what is it? 

Very basically, it’s wrapping your belly in the days and weeks postpartum to encourage your stomach to “firm” up. 

Does it make sense? 

In one sense, the theory is sound. During pregnancy, your rectus abdominus or “six-pack” muscles separate down the middle to accommodate your growing belly. This is called a Diastasis Recti. It’s a totally normal and essential part of pregnancy. With belly binding, the idea is to approximate (or bring closer together) the right and left sides of your six pack so that they heal as close together during the deflating and recoil phase after birth.

That sounds perfect! So what’s the problem? 

Well, the abdominal wall is only one component of your core canister. The other components that make up this canister are: your pelvic floor at the bottom, your respiratory diaphragm at the top and your deep spinal stabilizers at the back. This core houses all of your abdominal and pelvic organs. Imagine a tube of toothpaste with all of your guts inside.

When you compress that tube of toothpaste from the front and back like an abdominal binder does, where do you think all of your guts are going to displace to? The path of least resistance, of course. And after having a baby – that path is downwards towards the pelvic floor and specifically the vaginal opening. There’s a name for when organs move south…it’s called pelvic organ prolapse. You don’t want to flirt with prolapse.

So how come I did it?

I only did after I had my twins. When I checked my diastasis immediately postpartum, I could fit two fists between my right and left rectus muscles! The key to belly binding is to make sure the amount of compression used won’t result in your organs shifting downwards. My rule of thumb is to make sure that you can easily slide a hand inside whatever you’re using.

How come I didn’t do it this time?

When I checked my diastasis postpartum, I could measure it with the fingers of just one hand. The female body knows exactly what to do to heal after brith. The same way it knows how to menstruate, conceive, grow your baby and birth your baby. The less we do to get in the way of all of those processes – the better!

Still have questions? Want to know what I used for compression? Or how to know if it’ll be appropriate for you? Or if it’s too late for you so start doing it now? Or what products I recommend if you’re going to do it? 

Book an appointment at Bounce Back Physical Therapy! We’re happy to help!

Jillian Palmer