Belly wraps have been around for a long time. In fact, there's some evidence of belly wrapping is a of ancient history in many parts of the globe.
There's a lot of lore around pregnancy and birth. Ancient civilizations had some things right, and other things frightfully wrong.
For example, a study examining the postpartum beliefs of Jordanian people found that in both rural and urban communities women incorrectly believed in prolonged bed rest postpartum, allowing others to watch them breastfeed would "steal" the woman's milk, wearing tight abdominal wraps postpartum would heal abdominal muscles, and allowing babies to exhale on the breast would increase the risk of infection.
None of the above stated is true, and actually practicing prolonged bed rest postpartum and tight belly wrapping can be harmful to recovery.
The belly wrap can be useful in a lot of ways, it's probably not useful in the ways that you think!
Let's bust some myths about belly wraps and get right down to what it does and does not do.
Myths Around Belly Wraps
1. Belly wraps will tighten abdominal muscles.
Actually, belly wraps take the place of weak abdominal muscles. They wrap around the abdomen in the same way that our deepest core muscle, transversus abdominius (TA's) works. This is why some symptoms of abdominal separation can be alleviated with abdominal wrapping.
However, they do not retrain your TA's to function, they simply act as a replacement. And they are not a perfect replacement. They might alleviate some back pain, but they ultimately cannot prevent prolapse or pee leaks the way a strong core can.
2. Belly wraps will help with weight loss.
This is incorrect. Belly wraps cinch up the core but do not create any physiological changes.
3. Belly wraps will help tighten loose skin postpartum.
This is also incorrect. Belly wraps simply wrap around the core as a core brace but cannot have any affect on collagen elasticity in the skin.
Benefits of Belly Wrapping
There is certainly a time and place for belly wrapping! Wrapping during pregnancy can help a struggling core system to feel more supported, thus potentially decreasing issues like pubic symphysis pain and back pain while the wrap is on.
Wrapping immediately postpartum can help mom feel more secure and support the core. Belly wrapping can be initiated right after birth and worn for the first 8 weeks postpartum.
Wrapping should be performed in conjunction with pelvic floor physical therapy, because wrapping will help support the core but does not replace a strong and healthy core system.
How to Belly Wrap
I recommend using Bellies Inc for all belly wrapping. These wraps are designed by pelvic floor physical therapists and also offer a core strengthening program to work on while using your wrap.
Using a wrap that is too tight can restrict breathing, which can be dangerous.
Using a wrap that is too tight at the top can place more force on the pelvic floor and create more issues such as prolapse and pee leaks.
Wrap from the bottom up, and focus on lifting the lower abs up and in.
Wraps can be used for vaginal birth or c-section and can be placed immediately postpartum!
Belly wraps do not help you lose weight, tighten your ab muscles or decrease stretch marks. Belly wraps do help support a struggling core system and can be a valuable addition to your pregnancy and postpartum journey.
I recommend working with a pelvic floor physical therapist to help fit you with a good belly wrap that is specific to your needs.
It's important to strengthen your core and retrain your abs while wearing your wrap! It will not do the work for you!
Book your appointment with pelvic floor physical therapy today to make sure your core is as strong as possible, and to find out if wrapping is right for you!