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Cradling your new bundle of joy after many hours of laboring away (not to mention many months to get them there) is indescribable. And while you’re still enjoying the glow of holding your newborn, you’re also sore, exhausted, and maybe thinking of what comes next in your postpartum journey.

First off, consider what you just accomplished — your body is amazing! Remember that it’s normal and healthy for your body to be different after giving birth than it was before.

It took you 9 months to grow your baby, so it’s common to take at least as long to get back to “normal” — whatever that means. And if you’re breastfeeding, you’ll continue to need extra calories and hydration the whole time your little one is getting the amazing benefits of your milk.

If you do find that you need extra support for your abdomen, one popular option to help is the postpartum girdle.

Just keep in mind: Seeking the help of a physical therapist or another provider who specializes in postpartum healing (such as for diastasis recti or pelvic floor problems, like urinary incontinence) will typically be far more effective than just buying a commercially available girdle.

If you do choose to add a postpartum girdle to your recovery plan, we’ve selected some of the tried-and-true options for a variety of situations.

Are you thinking of your grandmother’s girdle when you picture this postpartum garment? While the concept is similar, this isn’t quite the same thing.

A postpartum girdle (also known as a post-pregnancy girdle) is about more than just improving your profile in clothing — although this can be one of its selling points. This medical-grade compression garment is designed to fit snugly around your belly to aid in recovery.

Some of the top benefits of wearing a postpartum girdle include:

  • promoting recovery from childbirth
  • encouraging blood flow
  • improving posture and mobility
  • reducing back pain
  • stabilizing your pelvic floor
  • providing critical support to your abdominal muscles to help with healing or make workouts more comfortable
  • reducing swelling and fluid retention

In particular, a postpartum girdle can be ideal for those recovering from cesarean deliveries and those with diastasis recti.

C-section recovery

In general, childbirth is hard on your body. But if you delivered by C-section, your recovery can be harder as the incision made to access the uterus required cuts through multiple layers of muscle and tissue. Often women who underwent C-sections experience more pain, bleeding, and discomfort.

But one small 2017 study noted that using a postpartum girdle helped people who had C-sections experience less pain, bleeding, and discomfort than those recovering from C-sections who opted not to use one.

Diastasis recti recovery

Diastasis recti is a very common condition that happens when your abdominal muscles separate as your belly expands during pregnancy — and they remain separated after childbirth.

For most people, their abdominal muscles will close naturally within a month or two after giving birth. However, wearing a postpartum girdle can help speed up the recovery process thanks to the gentle compression the girdle provides.

With so many options, it can be overwhelming to find the right postpartum girdle that meets your needs and is safe for consistent use. To help narrow down our selections, we prioritized the following criteria:

  • ease of use
  • comfort
  • construction
  • price
  • whether a product was endorsed or had been supported through research conducted by a medical organization
  • online reviews from postpartum people

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $25
  • $$ = $25–$49
  • $$$ = over $50

Best girdles for C-section recovery

Best budget-friendly postpartum girdles

AltroCare Postpartum Abdominal Binder

Price: $

Depending on the style of a postpartum girdle, you can end up feeling like you need an instruction manual just to get into it. The AltroCare Postpartum Abdominal Binder is a stretchy and easy-to-use girdle with a straightforward design. It features medical-grade construction to give you peace of mind that you’re getting all of the benefits of a postpartum girdle.

This girdle can accommodate waist sizes from 30 to 75 inches.

Best girdle for diastasis recti

Best plus size postpartum girdles

Best supportive postpartum girdle

Best postpartum girdle for bloat

UpSpring Baby Shrinkx Belly Bamboo Charcoal Belly Wrap

Price: $$

When you have improved circulation, your body can heal better. The UpSpring Shrinkx Belly Bamboo Charcoal Belly Wrap is infused with bamboo charcoal fibers to help improve circulation. This girdle has the classic Velcro fasteners that make getting in and out of it easy and allows you to adjust the compression to meet your needs. This postpartum girdle is rated for use with c-section and vaginal birth recovery.

One common complaint with this girdle is that it’s bulky and visible under clothing. Another concern was that the fabric was scratchy, making it impractical for use directly on your skin.

Best splurge postpartum girdle

Waist trainers are modern-day corsets that are worn over the midsection and rely on hook and eye closures or ties to help create the illusion of a sculpted hourglass figure. They also have a reputation built on bold claims of weight loss and shaping or “training” your waist into the desired silhouette.

But under medical review, these undergarments don’t stand up to the hype. While they can create the visual effect of slimming your middle, they don’t provide long-term weight loss or shaping benefits. They can actually damage your internal organs, reduce your lung capacity, and lead to other health problems.

In contrast, a postpartum girdle is designed with support as the primary goal. These garments are worn around the belly and upper hip to provide support for your core and pelvic floor. While they do feature compression, it’s gentle and targeted to hold your muscles and ligaments in place and speed recovery after childbirth.

At least one medical study from 2012 showed that using postpartum girdles can help you safely strengthen your core over time, especially when used in combination with physical therapy.

Remember that the best way to help your body recover after birth is to:

  • rest a lot — you’ve heard it said, but truly, try to sleep when they sleep!
  • eat healthy foods
  • drink a lot of water

Research on girdles is limited, and if you have genuine concerns about your recovery, it’s better to consult with a physical therapist who specializes in women’s pelvic health and abdominal health.

But if you do decide to add a postpartum girdle to your recovery plan, be sure to keep these things in mind while you shop:

Price

It’s not necessary to splurge to find a quality postpartum girdle. Depending on your budget, there are full coverage models available at every price point.

Ease of use

Most girdles will feature one of three options:

  • pull-on style
  • hook and eye closures
  • Velcro closures

The type you pick will depend on which is easiest for you. A pull-on style is awesome if you don’t want to fumble with closures. But Velcro closures can be ideal if you want to quickly adjust your compression levels.

Hook and eye closures offer the most secure fit, but if you’re trying to very quickly get in and out of your girdle, well — good luck.

Likewise, for a girdle to be truly effective, look for options that will stay in place.

Size

Many brands offer girdles in two common sizing options — traditional letter sizing (XS to XL) or based on precise numerical measurements. It’s a good idea to take your measurements and compare them against the size charts offered by the brand.

Between the two sizing options, numerical measurements will always be more precise than lettered sizing. Keep in mind that a postpartum girdle should fit snugly but shouldn’t restrict your ability to breathe or impact your range of motion.

Style

The most common options are longline and midsection styles. A longline girdle begins just below your bust and usually ends just at or in the middle of your hips. This is great if you’re recovering from diastasis recti, a C-section, or you want to ensure that your posture will improve.

A midsection style is awesome for general support and can be a better alternative for someone that feels a longline style is too restrictive.

Material

Always look for breathable materials when shopping for a postpartum girdle. And if you’re recovering from a C-section, look for options that have moisture wicking and breathability to help with incision healing.

Regardless of how you delivered your bundle of joy, the road to recovery during your postpartum period can be intense. But a quality postpartum girdle — along with your doctor’s advice — may help give you the support you need to get back to an active life and to properly heal from labor and delivery.