If you’ve just given birth, you know how differently your body feels to before you were pregnant.
Pregnancy causes massive changes in your body, mind, and spirit; from the physical changes of shape and size, to the impact on your muscles and hormones, let alone the emotional and mental side of things.
You and your body go through a lot in those nine months – so it’s no surprise that you might need some extra physical support once your baby comes into the world.
Life with a newborn is tough – mentally and physically. Using a postpartum belt can offer you a bit of physical support and help your body recover - whether you’ve had a vaginal birth or a C-section.
Read our essential guide to pregnancy support belts
What does a postpartum belt do?
Postpartum belts are designed to support your body and help it recover. They use compression to keep your muscles and skin supported, potentially helping with aches and pains, stretch marks (the increased circulation is meant to help these), sciatic pain, bladder control, and looking after your new body shape following birth. They fit snugly around your hips and tummy, and are normally adjustable to suit your shape and body type.
They’re designed to support your abdomen until all your organs and muscles get back to doing what they do best; the compression also helps as your uterus shrinks.
They’re also thought to help with diastasis recti - a condition where the abdominal muscles remain separated following pregnancy.
Some new mums want to use a postpartum belt to change their body shape or outline under their clothes, but there are many more health and wellbeing benefits to such a product other than altering your outline.
Sometimes they are called ‘girdles’, although the image of a girdle is very old-fashioned and far away from modern postpartum belts. The thing your grandmother used to wear is a world away from contemporary postpartum belts.
When do you use a postpartum belt?
These belts are primarily designed to be used after birth. Some of them are adjustable and can be used during your pregnancy to support your bump, then altered to support your hips after birth.
Some of them have specific directions in terms of how long to use them – for instance, some are ideal for the week after birth – so always read the instructions on each individual product to find out when’s best to use them.
It’s a very personal thing, and you might find them uncomfortable – so always check whether you can return the belt if it doesn’t suit you.
We spoke to Clare Bourne, a Women's Health Physio, who advised:
"There are different types of postnatal belts, the most commonly being those used to support the tummy or pelvis. They can be useful and advised by physiotherapists to assist recovery on an individual basis, but for specific conditions, such as diastasis recti, they have demonstrated no additional benefit when looked at in research. Therefore they would not be advised for every woman post birth, but could be helpful to individuals based on their situation."
Can you use one after a C-section?
Some postpartum belts are specifically labelled as help for after a C-section, and belly wraps can offer support as your wound heals. We’d recommend speaking to your GP or health visitor first though, to find out if you should wait until after everything has healed.
Speak to your health visitor or GP
If you’re suffering physically or mentally after the birth of your baby, and if you’re in pain or discomfort, always refer to your health visitor or GP to get specific advice. There might be medical issues with your abdomen that a postpartum belt can’t help with – so always ask a professional if you’re worried about anything – especially if you’ve had a C-section.
Deciding on whether you want to use a belly wrap or belt after birth is a personal decision, and what one mum finds comfy, another simply won’t like. There are some things to bear in mind when choosing a postpartum belt:
Is it comfy? By nature, postpartum belts are designed to offer light compression – but there’s a difference between this and feeling restricted and uncomfortable. You’re not looking for a waist-cincher like you’ve seen on Instragram – this is meant to be a supportive product.
Is it easy to use? Life with a newborn is hard enough without having to struggle for 10 minutes trying to do up your postpartum belt. Choose one that’s easy to put on and adjust.
Is it discreet? Consider how it might look underneath your clothes; something that’s really bulky might make you feel uncomfortable and self-conscious.
What’s your budget? You can spend a lot on a postpartum belt, or buy a cheaper option that’s much simpler; always weigh up the benefits and don’t waste money on a bargain that’s uncomfortable and won’t give you the right support.
The Belly Bandit brand was created when one of the founders, Lori Caden, “was struggling to regain her pre-baby body”, it explains on the website. Belly Bandit products aim to make a new mum feel better in her body, by helping the healing process after birth, and support those hard-working muscles following pregnancy.
The BFF Belly Wrap aims to shrink the tummy, waist, and hips, while minimising stretch marks; it supports your back and core muscles, making daily activities and exercise more comfortable and achievable after birth.
It’s made from breathable elastic medical-grade material. There are six support panels, making it really flexible and adjustable.
Tested by mum Jennifer Brockley for the M&B Awards 2016: “It gave me a feeling of security wearing the Belly Bandit because I was feeling very fragile and it pulled me together and gave me strength where my muscles seemed tired after giving birth. It’s also incredibly comfortable which I wasn’t expecting!”
The Belly Bandit was Shortlisted in the 2016 M&B Awards in the Best Pregnancy/Maternity Product category.
Read our full review of the Belly Bandit here.
- Double compression, six-panel design
- Supports back, leg & core muscles
- Adds support while breastfeeding
- Provides comfort after C-Section
- Helps minimize stretch marks
- Applies medical grade compression to help expedite fluids through the body
- May help with muscle memory and body shaping
- Helps with abdominal separation also known as diastasis recti
You wear this flexible band around your hips, helping to ease them back to their pre-pregnancy size and shape. It can help with bladder discomfort (and we ALL know about that post-birth, don’t we?) and also sciatic pain. The compression helps to aid circulation, in turn minimizing stretch marks.
It comes in two parts; a long band and a short band. Wrap the long band around your hips, then wrap the short one over the top for added support and compression.
You can also use this during your pregnancy if you need support for your bump.
Mum Christina reviewed this on the Belly Band website and said: “I wish I would’ve ordered my 2-in-1 band sooner! It gave me great support for my bump while pregnant and has been a tremendous help with my back pain postpartum. For the price, ease of use, and function I definitely recommend this to all expecting mums!”
- 49% Polyester, 21% Polyamide, 16% Cotton, 14% Elastane
- Machine wash cold with mild soap
- Lay flat to dry
- Available in black or nude
With more than 700 reviews on Amazon and an average rating of 4.1 stars out of 5, this postpartum belt is actually three-in-one – a belly band, waist belt, and pelvis binder all in one. The fabric is breathable, stretchy, and comfy. There are two sizes available – One Size, suitable for sizes 10-14, and Plus, for sizes 16-20; it’s really adjustable though, with Velcro straps, so can be flexible for your body shape.
It is recommended that you don’t wear this directly next to your skin, but wear a cami or thin T-shirt underneath. It is bulky – especially given that it’s got three parts to it – but it stays put and won’t roll down during the day.
One Amazon customer reviewed it and said: “Very good quality, easy to use. The three-part system makes perfect sense - just see where it’s needed and adjust it so that it works to its maximum without creating discomfort.”
- Available in two sizes
- Material: 80% Poliamida 20% Elastano
It’s easy to wear this during your pregnancy and after birth, when your tummy still needs support and you’re not yet back in your pre-pregnancy jeans. It fits snuggly over your stomach, over the top of your waistband. This is a great value option, but not one to give you full compression or muscle support like the others on our list - this is very much a value, lightweight product.
- 79% Polyamide, 21% Elastane
- Machine washable
- Recovers to original shape after washing
- Soft, seamless knit construction with 360 degree stretch