When I was pregnant with Ben, I read a lot about postpartum recovery and did my best to prepare for it. I assumed that I would have a pretty standard birth and was not at all anticipating a c-section. I wound up having an emergency c-section at 34 weeks pregnant and our little guy had a two week long NICU stay (here’s what I’ll never forget about the NICU). From my hospital bed, I placed an Amazon order that included a $20 velcro postpartum belly wrap, i.e. a “belly band”.
How Belly Bands Help Recovery
I’d read that belly bands put pressure (in a good way) on your uterus and help it to contract back to it’s normal size. This could be internet nonsense but as a general fan of internet nonsense, I decided better safe than sorry. I’d also read that some women really like the feeling of compression in that area postpartum, while some stick to flowy tops and looser sweats.
I wound up being someone who really liked the feeling of the compression. While it made going to the bathroom harder, it made me feel like I was being held together and somehow felt more secure across my c-section scar as it healed.
Why I Decided on the 3-Piece Velcro Version
I debated getting a full corset thing with the crotch snap and all but decided that seemed uncomfortable and like it would be a hassle. I wanted something adjustable and I didn’t want to spend a ton of money. I wanted to have on hand in case I decided it’s something I wanted and at around $20, it was worth the risk.
I decided on this velcro postpartum belly wrap with three pieces. I liked the flexibility of using just one piece if that’s all I was up for or using multiple pieces for varying levels of support. I also liked that it didn’t have a hundred tiny bra hooks to get it on and off (the more corset like versions do) and it wasn’t just a stretchy ring of fabric that could roll up.
Did I Like Using it?
I wound up using it and really loved it. Now that I’m having another baby, the belly band is already packed in my hospital bag and I have every intention of using it again.
While Ben was in the NICU I think I went home 3 times (for about 2 hours each time) to shower and repack my bag. Every taxi ride would have been brutal if I hadn’t been wearing the belly band. I swear the stop and go across Philadelphia was the hardest part of recovery and it’s probably why I didn’t go home more. I remember thinking in the back of that taxi, “Oh my god, if I wasn’t wearing this thing I would have just burst my stitches open”. So yeah, I think it was 1000% worth the $20.
How I Used the Belly Band
I started around the time I was discharged from the hospital (though I was still staying at the hospital because Ben was in the NICU), about 5 days postpartum. What worked for me was to wear high-waisted leggings or a long nursing tank top and then put the belly wrap over it so it was more comfortable and wasn’t sweaty or itchy.
I wore a ton of high waisted leggings, alternating between the Lululemon Align (heaven in legging form and 1000% worth the price tag), Aerie Move 7/8 (a really solid legging and not too pricey if you wait for a sale), and these waist compression leggings from Amazon. If you need leggings that compress your stomach area, my god these are it. The waistband is super high and thick and will pull you in like no other clothing item I’ve ever owned. Just a note though, on the leggings front, you have to wear something tunic length with them because pattered undies will show through. Since I was postpartum, I was pretty much always wearing tunic length so it wasn’t an issue.
I used mostly the belly belt (the biggest piece) and the stomach belt (smaller and goes over your waist and belly button area specifically). The pelvis belt was too low for me to use it a lot because I was constantly having to sit down and stand up with breastfeeding and standing by Ben’s incubator.
I also think that because of the boning in it, the belly band forced me to have good posture. There’s a lot of looking directly down when you have a newborn, whether for breastfeeding, bottle feeding, or just admiring your new little one. Your back and neck can really stuffer. The belly band forces you to keep your trunk pretty upright and I think that really helped keep me from experiencing bad back pain.
I started by wearing it for a few hours per day. I didn’t find it uncomfortable but there is a sense of relief when you take it off (kind of like a bra). I gradually wore it more and eventually even slept in it sometimes. By about six to eight weeks postpartum, I felt like most of the swelling in my abdomen had gone down and my stomach looked like a less toned version of its former self, so I stopped wearing it. I continued to wear the high-rise compression leggings regularly for months after I gave birth (mostly because high-waisted leggings are legit and I love them, postpartum or not).
Did the Belly Band Help Me Get Back to my Pre-Pregnancy Size?
As far as how it affected my figure and getting back to my pre-pregnancy size? I can’t really speak to that. I’ve never had a baby before and I have no idea what that journey would have been like if I hadn’t used a belly band. I tend to think it has more to do with the individual person, genetics, eating habits, activity level, etc. But mostly genetics. I wasn’t overly concerned about getting back to my pre-pregnancy size. I started running again around March, nearly 6 months after Ben was born. Eventually I also did Fit4Mom classes in my area. It was a slow process but I didn’t put pressure on myself.
I don’t think belly bands are a magic fix. I don’t think it’s good or healthy to buy one thinking it’s going to make postpartum recovery drastically easier or “get your figure back” faster. But if you’re a person who likes the feeling of compression and support postpartum, then wearing one might be helpful.