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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, think of what you just accomplished — your body is amazing! The first and most important thing to remember is 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 snuggly 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 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
- whether a product was endorsed or had been supported through research conducted by a medical organization
- online reviews from postpartum women
- $ = under $25
- $$ = $25-$49
- $$$ = over $50
Loday 2 in 1 Postpartum Recovery Belt
Not everyone is in a position to spend a lot on a quality postpartum girdle. With the Loday 2 in 1 Postpartum Recovery Belt, you can get all the benefits of a longline girdle without the sticker shock.
In addition to the wallet-friendly price, this soft and stretchy belt is made of latex and slides on instead of relying on Velcro straps or closures — because who has time for that nonsense when you have a newborn?! While this option can only be hand washed, it’s available in two colors (nude and black) and sizes XS through XL.
Bellefit Corset Postpartum Girdle
If money is less of an issue, the Bellefit Corset Postpartum Girdle is a great option for moms healing from a C-section. This longline girdle relies on a front abdominal and crotch hook and eye closures to provide complete 360-degree support across your midsection, back, and pelvic floor.
This option is also registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a medical device, especially for C-section recovery and to aid in strengthening your core. It’s a great option if you wear plus sizes, as it comes in XS through 3XL.
However, even though this is one of the few total support girdles on our list, a common complaint is that the crotch strap is too short and often left wearers feeling uncomfortable.
Acepstar Belly Wrap
If you’re looking for enhanced support at a modest price, the Acepstar Belly Wrap is a good place to start your search. This postpartum girdle is made from breathable, stretchy material and features a wide Velcro exterior belt that makes getting in and out of it easy to do in those early — and uncomfortable — postpartum days.
Most importantly, in addition to offering all of the traditional benefits of a postpartum girdle, it still comes with built-in boning to help keep the girdle in place as you move.
Be aware is that the sizing isn’t based on standard U.S. sizing, so you’ll need to do your measurements before ordering.
AltroCare Postpartum Abdominal Binder
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.
Simiya Postpartum Support Recovery Belt
If you have diastasis recti, you know that you need a postpartum girdle that offers full compression across your entire abdominal region. The Simiya Postpartum Support Recovery Belt is a longline girdle that combines a waist and pelvic belt to help target your core and pelvic floor as well as improve posture.
Plus, this model is easy to use thanks to the simple and straightforward Velcro belts. This style comes in a size M and L.
Ursexyly Maternity Support Belt
A common complaint with postpartum girdles is that they can shift as you wear them throughout the day. But the Ursexyly Maternity Support Belt Postpartum Belly Band eliminates that frustration thanks to the built-in shoulder straps. While it does rely on hook and eye closures, the adjustable shoulder straps help to improve posture. With sizes that range from S to 4XL, this is ideal for those who wear plus sizes.
Some women noted ordering two sizes bigger than their natural size helped them find the right fit.
Everyday Medical Plus Size Abdominal Binder
Understandably, multiple straps might be intimidating if you’re trying to juggle caring for a newborn while taking care of yourself. The Everyday Medical Plus Size Abdominal Binder is a great solution.
This simple one-strap, four-panel postpartum girdle is easy to wear and measures 12 inches long to fully cover your midsection. The breathable elastic material also makes it comfortable for extended wear.
Gepoetry Postpartum Recovery Belly Wrap
Regardless of whether you delivered vaginally or via C-section, or if you’re struggling with diastasis recti, a quality postpartum girdle should give you full support.
The Gepoetry Postpartum Recovery Belly Wrap features a 3-in-1 belt set for your waist, belly, and pelvis. This complete support helps to improve posture, strengthen your core, and support your pelvic floor. It comes in two colors — nude and black — and is made from stretchy, breathable material.
Note that only the nude color offers the 3-in-1 belt set. The black only offers a waist and pelvic belt combination.
UpSpring Shrinkx Belly Bamboo Charcoal Belly Wrap
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.
Belly Bandit Viscose from Bamboo Belly Wrap
The Belly Bandit Viscose from Bamboo Belly Wrap combines ultra-soft material with their iconic Belly Wrap technology. It focuses on your core midsection thanks to gentle compression and features an easy to adjust and remove Velcro closure. It’s available in sizes XS through XL and also comes with 6 inches of adjustability to help accommodate your changing shape as you progress through your postpartum period.
If this one seems on the pricier end, keep in mind that many insurance companies will reimburse you the cost of Belly Bandit products with a doctor’s prescription. See their website for details.
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, 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:
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.
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.
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.
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.