Updated: Jan 23
So you may be tempted to purchase an abdominal support belt postpartum. The question is.....will it help?
Let's break down this research article to help us find the answer. There are two groups with 15 participants in each group.
Group one participated in using an abdominal belt starting the 2nd day after delivery from morning to night.
Group two started an abdominal exercise program also on the 2nd day after delivery. The exercise program was 30 minutes, three sessions per week (one every other day for 6 weeks). It consisted of static abdominal contraction, posterior pelvic tilt, reverse sit-up exercise, trunk twist, and reverse trunk twist exercise Both groups continued this course for 6 weeks((El-Mekawy, H. , Eldeeb, A. , Lythy, M. , El-Begawy, A. (2013)).).
So what were the results.....group two who was assigned the abdominal exercises had a greater increase in abdominal muscle strength and a greater decrease in the inter-recti distance, the distance between the two rectus muscles, than those who used the post-natal supporting belt (El-Mekawy, H. , Eldeeb, A. , Lythy, M. , El-Begawy, A. (2013)).
Now I am not here to say that wearing an abdominal belt is not helpful. If the choice is between exercises or a belt though........I'm going with the exercises.
This study has its limitations because its sole focus was abdominal strength, and did not take into account the effect an abdominal belt or exercises would have on the pelvic floor.
Is an abdominal belt right for you? Maybe.....my first recommendation is to always see a pelvic floor PT for a doctor's recommendation. My personal preference is if you wear a binder try to find one that also supports the pelvic floor. Also, starting gently with exercises such as breathing postpartum.
El-Mekawy, H. , Eldeeb, A. , Lythy, M. , El-Begawy, A.. "Effect of Abdominal Exercises versus Abdominal Supporting Belt on Post-Partum Abdominal Efficiency and Rectus Separation". World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology, Open Science Index 73, International Journal of Medical and Health Sciences, (2013), 7(1), 75 - 79.