Abdominal Wrapping for Postpartum Healing
By Samantha Garcia Gagnon
CEO, bellies inc.
Postpartum abdominal wrapping, more commonly referred to as belly wrapping, is a practice that many pregnant people are curious about but wonder why it may be beneficial for postpartum healing and how to choose the right wrap to use.
Let’s start with why belly wrapping is beneficial for postpartum healing. Think about someone who has sprained their ankle for example. Using a wrap or brace to provide external support to those injured tissues is standard care. The same can be said for the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles after birth.
Did you know that 100% of pregnant people will get diastasic recti abdominis (DRA) in their third trimester (Mota et al 2014) and that 45% experience low back pain and pelvic girdle pain during their pregnancy, and 25% postpartum (Wu et al 2004).
Vaginal birth causes extensive strain on the pelvic floor muscles, connective tissue and nerves and episiotomy, forceps, vacuum and prolonged pushing in the second stage of labour can all lead to a challenged core. Cesarean births do not make a person immune to dysfunction, as they involve an incision into the abdominal wall, which affects the muscles and connective tissue.
With such big impacts pregnancy and birth have on the body, it stands to reason that just as many cultures all over the world have used abdominal wrapping as part of their postpartum recovery plans. All newly postpartum people should consider using a wrap to help restore function to the abdominal wall. Spontaneous healing of a DRA only occurs in the first 8 weeks postpartum. Beyond that intervention is needed (Coldron et al 2008). With the first 8 weeks being so important for spontaneous postpartum healing, belly wrapping, especially when done in combination with a restorative pelvic floor recovery program, is key in supporting spontaneous healing.
Benefits of Belly Wrapping
- Supports your pelvis as well as the tissues in your abdominal wall
- Provides comfort and support (especially after cesarean births)
- Helps to heal diastasis rectus abdominis (DRA) when done in combination with a restorative pelvic floor recovery program
- Encourages re-alignment of the rectus muscles (your ‘6 pack’)
- Keeps your birthing body warm (aka the tradition of ‘mother roasting’)
- Guides your postpartum body into restorative posture and alignment
- Supports your uterus in its return to its normal size (involution)
- Improves circulation
- Encourages rest
With the clear benefits belly wrapping offers to postpartum recovery, the next question is how to pick the right wrap for you. It is important to note that while there are many wraps available on the market, not all wraps are safe for postpartum. Please note – an abdominal wrap is not the same as a waist trainer.
Here are some key features needed for an abdominal postpartum wrap:
- The wrap must be put on from the bottom up. Wrapping top down will increase pressure on the uterus and pelvic organs
- The compression should be light – think a “gentle hug” to allow for involution of the uterus. Too much compression can compromise the pelvic floor
- The wrap should be adjustable to fit the torso and focus the support where it needs it most
- The wrap should be elastic to allow movement and not restrict breathing
The bellies inc. Ab System has all the key features making it a safe and effective choice. The Ab System was designed by a team of pelvic floor specialists, including a physiotherapist. Included with the Ab System is the Ab Wrap, two base layer Ab Tanks and the Core Confidence program – an 8 week postpartum restorative program so that you can heal from the inside out. Remember, it is the combination of wrapping and restorative exercises that make the biggest difference in postpartum recovery of the core and pelvic floor. It is recommended to purchase the Ab System in your third trimester so that you can begin the Core Confidence program during pregnancy, and then immediately after birth begin wrapping and slowly integrating the Core Confidence program for around 8 weeks after birth. The bellies inc. Ab System includess everything you need to prepare, recover and restore after birth.
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