Bump ‘n’ bind
Can a belly band really shrink excess bulk after giving birth?
For the vast majority of women, pinging back into shape 10 minutes after delivery and going home in their skinnies is nothing more than a pipe dream. The usual scenario is a few months more wear from your maternity wardrobe and a few more after that spent in your ‘fat’ jeans before, if you’re lucky, getting back to your normal size a year after giving birth.
This depressing reality isn’t helped by the media’s current fascination with celebs’ post-baby bods. Think Gisele Bundchen modeling underwear within three months of her water delivery, and Denise Van Outen strutting her washboard stuff on Dubai’s beaches with six-month-old Betsy in tow. No wonder we mere mortals are willing to try anything, and no wonder post-natal belly bands are selling like buns just out of the oven…
But how effective are they? And do their claims of reducing inches, supporting core muscles, shrinking the uterus, and whittling a waist that Dita Von Teese would envy, really hold up?
Rebekah Bradley, Senior Midwife at Health Bay Polyclinic is skeptical. She says, ‘There is a lot of debate over whether supportive underwear during and after pregnancy has any benefits. Some old-school midwives do believe it can alleviate certain conditions because everything is held together better than if you’re wearing a thong. However, in terms of the clinical evidence, I’m not convinced.’
Rebekah explains: ‘Nothing, apart from oxytocin, which you produce while breastfeeding, can help shrink your uterus. And nothing, other than exercise and diet, can tighten up your tummy. These bands claim to work on the theory that post-delivery, for around two months, a woman’s body is flooded with hormones that make her muscles and ligaments loose and relaxed. The claim is that if you support these muscles and hold them in place, rather than letting them sag, once the body starts to tighten up, they will somehow maintain their shape. I really don’t see how, physiologically, this can work. ’
But Rebekah does believe that belly bands are useful for those who’ve had C-sections. ‘When you’ve had a Caesarian, your core muscles can be painful unless they are well supported. Wearing a band can bring relief in the first couple of weeks, and can even help you get more rest if you wear it in bed to make turning over easier.’
Mum-of-two Paula Harrington, the co-owner of online baby store Bubs Boutique, recently gave birth to son William via caesarian. She tried several belly bands and says, ‘Generally, I found them very comfortable – although, in the really hot weather here, it must be a bit like having scuba pants on! Having said that, they feel really supportive and it’s nice to have all one’s wobbly bits and bumps flattened out without the pain of doing hundreds of sit-ups.’
But, she warns, they aren’t the sort of undies you’ll want to display, so comfort and a smooth silhouette under clothes should be your priority. ‘If you’ve had a C-section, I would suggest going for the big Bridget Jones-style knickers. They’re not the sexiest of things but the support they gave me felt really amazing. Styles that had a bit of silicone that sat against my scar, I found, offered huge relief when getting out and about during those first few painful post-op weeks.’
Rebekah adds, ‘I’d always advise women to try and embrace their post-delivery shape. But I don’t think wearing a pair of supporting knickers or a girdle does any harm either. If you want a night out on the town to cheer yourself up, and wearing a band makes you feel better about yourself, that’s absolutely fine. But don’t expect it to melt inches off your waist, because you might end up disappointed.’
Loving Comfort postpartum support
Very light and neat, this latex-free band with adjustable tension helps support the abdominal muscles, easing any pain after natural or caesarian delivery and giving you a smooth silhouette under your clothes. It won’t break the bank either.
Dhs100, Destination Maternity
Cinch post-baby girdle
A favourite of celebs like Gwen Stefani and Angelina Jolie, the adjustable Cinch wraparound belt claims to tighten abdominal muscles and give you a firmer shape. Its built-in tape measure is designed to incentivise (or depress) you into losing those inches.
Dhs555, Blossom Mother & Child
Bamboo Belly Bandit
A rather chunky piece of kit, this abdominal compression binder comes in a range of sizes and is firm enough to hold in the jiggliest of tummies. It also claims to reduce bloating and give additional support to mum’s legs and back. This one is fashioned out of eco-friendly bamboo.
Dhs280-320, Favourite Things
Shrinkx Hips belt
If your bigger bits are a little lower down, the Shrinkx Hips belt claims to narrow your hips by working with the hormone Relaxin, which loosens pelvic joints and hips up to eight weeks after delivery. This nylon and spandex band puts pressure on the hips to guide them back to their pre-pregnancy position before the joints and ligaments harden in place.
Time Out Dubai,