I can still remember clearly how the internet went haywire and all the mommy warriors and feminists hailed and chanted. I can even imagine some of them literally danced a jig, when Princess Kate’s first appearance after the birth of her first child, Prince George showing an obvious bump, still very visible, even though she now had a baby in her hand.
She was hailed as being a very real princess, a very real mommy, who was not interested in sustaining the image that a woman who has just given birth would automatically have a flat tummy. That was one birth that I was excited about. I checked all the stories I could find on the princess and there were many.
I looked at the now classic blue and white dress she wore to make that appearance, I looked at the zoomed in images of her post-partum belly. I looked at all and I fell in love with that Princess. She was as real as you can get. No baggy track suits to hide her post-partum body, or worse, come out, all ‘slimmed’ up, as though she had not been pregnant a day ago. She merely embraced her new body and ran with what suited it now. Plain speaking, she did not bind her just recovering body, so she could get a ‘better’ fit in the dress.
I wasn’t that gutsy when I had my first babies, or maybe I was just plain vain. I was still inside the labour room, my kids were being cleaned up for their daddy to take them to the emergency ward of a teaching hospital nearby, when my younger sister helped me bind my tummy.
You see, we had heard that the best time to get the action going, if you wanted a flat tummy after child birth, was to tie it immediately after birth. So, with one eye on the kids, and the tear in my lady bits making it hard for me to sit properly, I let my youngest sister squish my aching tummy into a wrap.
The nurses just turned the other way or they were busy, but no one said anything. I will not lie, it hurt. It raised my pain level oh, but all I was seeing was the flat tummy I would get at the end of the day.
Well, I got that flat tummy. If you had not seen me while pregnant, you wouldn’t know my tummy had seen a pregnancy. I tied my stomach every day for the next few weeks. I had smaller wrappers that I used for this belly binding business.
When my younger twins showed face, the last thing on my mind was to bind my belly. I just couldn’t be bothered. I felt I had earned the right to have a lower pelvic bump, after four kids. Don’t you think so? If for nothing, just to remind myself when I look in the middle that this body is not the same, regardless of my slimness, which helps in no small way to hide a lot of things.
For the few days that I bound my tummy, it was half-heartedly. I did not even do it consistently for up to a week. However, I would sometimes bind my tummy whenever the bump got to me, and I wished it was going down faster than it was.
As for my younger sister, her I-don’t-care attitude was on another level. As it had become customary now, our youngest sister was present with her and helped her to bind her tummy but by the second day after her delivery, she said the bind was itching her and that was the end. Although she used a bind on her tummy on my niece’s christening, it did not last long.
I know several women who did not bother with any binding and their mom tummy still went down with time. As I have grown older and am less swayed by popular opinion, I have come to realise that this belly binding business has both good and bad sides.
For most people, and even medical practitioners, it doesn’t matter whether you bind or you don’t. It’s a case of it might hurt you but it can also help you. There are several advantages and disadvantages to trying belly binding including:
According to my research, belly binding helps to repair the diastasis recti, the two large parallel bands of muscles that meet in the middle of the abdomen. The growing uterus stretches the muscles in the abdomen during pregnancy and this can cause to these muscles to separate.
Belly binding is helpful in bringing those bands of muscles back together in order for the connective tissue, to strengthen and support the muscles more effectively.
Belly binding also helps with Pelvic floor support. In addition to supporting the abdominal area, belly binding also provides support for your pelvic area. During childbirth, a woman’s body produces the hormone called Relaxin, which helps her body physically as her body becomes looser and more flexible in order to birth her baby.
Postpartum binding takes advantage of the Relaxin in the body by putting pressure on the hips and pelvis to go back to its pre pregnancy state more easily. This also helps to firm and support the areas that are still loose from pregnancy as the Relaxin reduces in the body.
As for disadvantages, some obstetricians in the U.S. say women are risking stress incontinence, digestion problems and weakened back muscles by binding their mom tummies soon after birth.
A women’s health physiotherapist is of the opinion that belly binding does no good in the end, she said, ‘After giving birth, the uterus is still enlarged and the whole of the abdominal wall has lengthened and stretched throughout the pregnancy. It will return to normal, but it takes time. The evidence shows that the best way to reduce abdominal distension is breast-feeding and specific exercises to strengthen the abdominals during and after pregnancy.
A belly-binder won’t help you lose baby fat — the only things to affect that are your metabolism and diet. If you bind the abdominal wall too tightly, you’re putting your pelvic floor under pressure, which could lead to urinary leakage. The pelvic floor has just been through a big stretch, so the last thing it wants is to be pressured.
So belly binders, and all who are considering it, the ball is in your court; to bind or not to bind? As for me, I will definitely not be binding anything anymore. My body knows what to do to get back to its pre-pregnancy shape and if, it doesn’t do the job as I want it, then exercise will come in.
It will certainly not be me squashing my recovering innards into an elastic tube, all in the name of getting back to shape.
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