After a c-section surgery, new mothers are often concerned about their physical appearance as well as healing from the surgery. Using belly bands after a c-section might help increase a new mother’s comfort during the postpartum recovery period. However, binding the belly is not a substitute for exercise, and might lead to health complications.
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Using a cloth wrap to bind the belly was historically practiced to aid the flow of blood and speed healing in a postpartum woman. Binding the postpartum belly is a practice still performed by some cultures but is relatively unknown to American women today, whether after a c-section or vaginal delivery. According to the iVillage website, the practice of belly binding is not recommended in current medical or midwifery practice today because the the bands might actually cause more problems than health benefits.
New mothers practice binding of the belly after a c-section to help flatten the stomach and avoid the dreaded belly flap of fat that often develops around the surgical scar. The tight binding of the belly might encourage the organs to return to their correct places within the abdomen, thereby helping the new mother return to her pre-pregnancy shape faster. In addition, the bindings theoretically strengthen the abdominal muscles that are stretched and separated during pregnancy, although there is no medical proof of this.
In addition to anecdotal benefits on flattening of the stomach after a c-section, binding the belly might help new moms feel more comfortable in certain positions, such as holding the baby while nursing or wearing the baby in a wrap or sling. The binding might reduce the feeling of abdominal looseness while walking and help provide support when bending or leaning to change diapers or dress the baby.
There is no known medical proof that belly bands aid in flattening the stomach or postpartum weight loss. In addition, MayoClinic.com explains that infections of the surgical incision site could develop after a c-section. Use of non-sterile coverings such as belly bands could promote infection of the site or interfere with healing of the incision. In some women, the tightness of the binding might worsen pain and discomfort at the surgical site.
While binding the belly might not improve physical fitness after a c-section, exercise does. According to the Family Education website, postpartum moms should wait to exercise until their physician permits a return to physical activity. At that time, stretches and moderate activities such as walking or swimming can help strengthen and tighten the new mother’s abdominal muscles.