Belly binding, abdominal splinting...call it what you like, is a tradition in many eastern countries. I believe in China the mother is bound in bandages immediately post birth and the grandmother comes to care for both baby and mother for the first few weeks…..sounds ideal (depending on who your mother is!).
Ok so I am not quite suggesting this, but belly binding does what it says on the tin… as soon as you are up and about after giving birth, you wrap your belly as tightly as possible.
The use of supports is controversial but my theory behind using a postnatal support is this… as a Physiotherapist if you came to me with a sprained ankle I would suggest, among other things, that you rest, and maybe use crutches; unless you had to run a race in which case I would advise strapping the ankle as best you can to allow you to get through it.
So the thing with post pregnancy is that your muscles have been stretched beyond belief and you physically cannot rest because you have a newborn to look after (unless you have a maid or are chinese!). I feel there is not enough emphasis put onto the childbirth process. Under no other similar scenario would you be up and about within hours and in most cases continuing on with fairly normal life. We need to give ourselves a break.
So, minus the maid, and with the need to look after a baby (and for many of you- older children) whilst continue general life chores e.g. mountains of washing, cooking and cleaning; my advice is to support those overstretched, and often separated muscles, to give them a chance to heal properly.
To those of you who might say “doesn't it make you weaker” … I am not suggesting you put on the support and wear it forever more. I am suggesting continuous wear for the first few days, up to a week (depending on the degree of separation you may of suffered) and then gradually you wean out. Continue to use for periods of increased activity e.g. food shopping, long walks, exercise and then gradually reduce its use until you are back to full function. I believe the increased support will allow improved function and therefore a speedier recovery.
As well as supporting you the binder will also help to ‘remind your brain’ as to the way your lower abdomen should be supported by the deep abdominal muscles.
However, correcting separated abdominals requires 2 things- doing the “right” things while not doing the “wrong” things. It is definitely worth seeing a Physiotherapist to be given specific exercises based on your ability and degree of separation, but one thing for everybody post partum is to avoid straining your Rectus Abdominus (your “six pack” muscles). By this I mean- continuing to get out of bed/bath like an old lady, which hopefully you have been doing throughout your pregnancy, not doing strenuous exercises like planks or sit ups, and avoiding carrying excessive weights.
As for post c-section, anything that requires use of abdominals hurts incredibly, including sneezing, coughing and laughing! Following other “normal” abdominal surgery patients would be encouraged to splint their tummy with a pillow when coughing etc., to reduce the strain (not always an option in the middle of morrisons)!! So again binding your tummy applies the same theories without needing to carry around your bedroom contents.
I wish I could provide you with some research to say that this works but after trawling through articles to find something, unfortunately, I have to admit defeat.
I do however have anecdotal evidence of my own tummy...if that helps!?
And a review from one of my pre and postnatal clients who has used a support...
Thank you Laura Cullen for my brilliant support band, its so comfy I actually look forward to putting it on! It makes me stand taller and with great posture, I just wish I looked like this without wearing it!
The Fit Mum’s Abdominal Supports come in 2 sizes- Pre pregnancy 8/10 and 12/14 (bearing in mind the support is designed to be pretty tight!). You can always wait until you have given birth to purchase but ideally you want it ASAP after the birth!
The Abdominal Supports are £15. If you would like to purchase a Fit Mum's Abdominal Support contact Laura.
If you require postage this is an additional £2.80.