Postpartum Binding, Splinting and Girdles
When I had my first baby I felt like a wreck for weeks. He was 9.5 pounds with a massive head. I had an episiotomy and felt like a bomb exploded underneath me. TMI? Just being real, ladies.
At the time, I didn’t know much about diastasis recti and exercises to avoid during late pregnancy (push ups, planks, crunches…). So, although I was in good shape, I had given my core a beating during the pregnancy, without even knowing it. As you can imagine, my core stability was pretty bad afterwards. I found that every time I turned my torso, got out of bed, or went from sitting to standing - I would pull a muscle in my back or side.
I had no core strength and diastasis recti (4 finger abdominal separation), which was causing incorrect muscles to compensate, so my body was completely imbalanced.
I had heard a lot about postpartum binding so I did some research and gave it a try...
Once I had my girdle on I felt amazing.
It gave me the support I needed in the early weeks so I could comfortably move around. It also helped my belly shrink back to its normal size a lot faster. I saw a difference within two days and felt a difference right away. It was incredible!
I used it with my second and third pregnancy as soon as I was back from the hospital. I wore it almost all day and night for the first week. The next few weeks I’d wear it for about 6-8 hours a day. At 5 weeks postpartum I wore it every other day for about 6 hours. By 6 or 7 weeks I wasn't wearing it much at all. I liked the idea of slowly weaning off of it so my body didn’t become dependent on the support and it wasn’t such a shock when I took it away completely.
Based on my personal experience, along with some research, here are my pros/cons, tips and recommendations for postpartum binding, splinting and girdles:
Provides support for organs that have shifted in pregnancy, including your uterus - it can help guide everything back to its original place and size
Helps support stretched core muscles and lower back
Helps guide abdominal muscles back together
Your muscles may rely on the support too much and not strengthen naturally with everyday movements
Could worsen prolapse (if worn too tight) - if you feel any extra pressure in your vagina/rectum, take it off or loosen it
Can be uncomfortable - this isn’t for everyone and takes time to get used to
Don't wear it too tight - you want to breathe comfortably and you never want to feel pressure on your pelvic floor, especially if you have prolapse after childbirth
Don't wear it too long - during the first several weeks when you’re not meant to be active anyway, it’s ok to wear it 24/7 if you're comfortable. I think it's important to start weaning yourself at that point to make sure your core muscles remember how to fire up correctly. Don’t let your core depend on the binding and forget how to engage
- Don’t wear it when you do pelvic floor and transverse abdominal work. Early postpartum breathing and mild exercises that help rebuild strength in your core should be done without girdle support so you can feel your muscles engage and remember how to properly move
Talk to your doctor or midwife - they know you best and may have recommended brands that suit your recovery situation (especially if you have had a C-section)
Update: Here are hook fastener and velcro options. Both allow you to loosen or tighten as you need it.