It is common for women to bind their bellies after giving birth in many cultures around the world, but it is not as common within our luxury-comfort-driven society where we tend to avoid unfashionable and uncomfortable items even if they are good for us. Wrapping the stomach with a splint after giving birth, after losing a lot of weight, or after abdominal surgeries like c-sections or hernia repair can really help the abdominal muscles to pull back together.
Binding the belly {splinting} right after birth helps reduce pain, instability and panic right after birth PLUS it hastens recovery of the abdominal fascia as it helps the two sides of the abs reapproximate together faster.

I recommend binding the belly right after birth, during the 2nd and 3rd trimester if a diastasis recti (DR) exists that is deep and wider than 3 finger-widths, and even years later if a DR still exists, and we also recommend wrapping if a person is dealing with depression since a binder can create a sense of core security that “hugs” and calms the senses. Read this research abstract {click} about how wearing a belt helps the core activate and reduce lower back and leg pain!

The result of NOT supporting the abs during and after pregnancy is a wider diastasis that is harder to heal from because the more your abs separate, the longer it takes to pull them back together. A diastasis occurs when the fascia connective tissue of your abs separates in the middle at the linea alba. Your linea alba is the vertical trench of connective tissue that holds your middle together – the vertical line in a six-pack. During pregnancy, obesity, surgery, or other activities that stress the abdominal wall like gymnastics and swimming, the linea alba can be stretched to cellophane thinness, leading to a pooch that won’t go away no matter how many crunches you do! The sad part is that most people will think this pooch means they are fat, not injured. And YES GUYS GET IT TOO!

 

 

A weak transverse abdominus that leads to thin connective tissue in the rectus abdominus (six pack) where it splits apart is indeed an injury called a diastasis (die-ass-tuh-sees), and crunches will only make that pooch worse because they bulge the abs, not flatten them. Just like any other severe connective tissue or tendon injury, a splint and rehab are needed for this injury to the stomach wall. The happy part is that the injury is by no means permanent if you bind your belly and realign your body, but the sooner the better. I’m a believer because  via splinting and six weeks of ab rehab, but that was two years AFTER having my last child. I wish I had done it sooner, because I suffered through several years of blaming my babies for stress incontinence, lower back pain, and my baby belly … And I wasn’t as strong as I could have been. If I had bound my belly and known how to target my transverse abdominus prior to having kids, I would have been that much more of a powerful mom! But my college degree and aerobics certifications literally left out the TVA because they only focused on the six-pack and the obliques. I had to hunt this info down for myself!

 

 

One thing to note is that splinting and binding your belly will only be truly effective if you can strengthen your core muscles at the same time. Think of a splint like a walking cast: Doctors realized that when they put hard casts on people with broken ankles and kept them off their feet, the unloaded bones didn’t heal as fast. If you only splint and don’t remind that broken tissue what it’s meant for, you won’t heal as fast! If you have a really big gap, then you need to splint while learning new alignment and some simple core exercises to really get your core back and flat! We have incorporated diastasis-safe training into nearly all of our workouts, making them “tummy safe” because so many are unsure of where to go after they are done healing. If you believe that you may have a diastasis and not just a bunch of belly fat, please find a licenced ab rehab professional in your area to learn more about how you can heal.

So where do you get a good belly splint or binding?  I got my splint through my physical therapist, Kelly Dean, but you can also order a FitSplint. Please click HERE to visit my magnum opus on splinting and see which two splints I recommend. One my members bought a Golds Gym brand wrap from Walmart and then freaked when she read the label:

“Warning: this product contains a chemical known to the state of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm….”

There are several good abdominal splints on the market that don’t contain cancer-causing agents. I dont’ endorse any ONE particular belly binder because I think it’s important for men and women to have CHOICES in splinting. One splint might not work for everyone due to body shape, alignment and life patterns.

 It’s not that we want your core to always be “tight.” Rather we want to recommission your deflated core into service again! Binding the belly allows the separated sides of the abdominals to re-approximate closer together to further healing. It’s hard to stich together fabric that is being pulled apart. Kelly Dean of The Tummy Team recommends splinting when a diastasis is 3 finger-widths or wider, and she also made a strong case at her continuing education workshop for splinting to help post-partum depression regardless of presence of diastasis recti.

Gave birth this morning to our sweet second daughter (10lbs 12oz!) after about 4 hours of labor and just want to say I am SO thankful for my Scott splint. I put it on as soon as I got up to clean up and it is helping so so much with my pain, and with the weakness and dizziness I felt when I stood up, with my balance…everything! I am stunned with the difference and with how good I feel. And dismayed that every new momma doesn’t have access to or knowledge of splinting! I mean the feeling of stability and security that it offers in such a vulnerable time is phenomenal. It’s a shame that every hospital doesn’t provide this as a standard of care for postpartum women! And Kelly’s recommendation on size was spot on. So thanks, Kelly and Scott binder! And of course, thanks to fit2b for everything. -Catie W.

I like to say that wrapping the belly isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of wisdom. No one would deny a cast to a person with a broken leg and tell him, “Oh just stand right, and keep your leg muscles tight, and it will get better all by itself!” Um, no. your belly is truly broken, and it needs that extra support. When the two sides of your abdominal wall have separated to 3 finger-widths or more, your belly will have a really hard time “getting a grip” again. Splinting does the job of the Transverse Abdominus (TvA or corset muscle) but it isn’t wise to splint without strengthening the TvA, otherwise true healing cannot take place, and the transverse will NEVER go back to doing its job. Diastasis Recti is an injury, and it needs support, but we want to give it a “tool” to get better, not a “crutch” on which to develop dependence.

 READ MORE ABOUT SPLINTING HERE

If you aren’t yet a member, please subscribe to our newsletter to get a free 10-minute “Totally Transverse” routine that you can just click play and watch today!

 


23 comments:

  1. Jennifer

    October 13, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Thanks for this. I am pregnant with #4 and found info on this a while after I had #3 but thought it was too late to make much of a difference. I’m going to be prepared after this one is born! I plan on having all of this stuff at home and ready so I can get started right away!

    Reply
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  4. Lani

    October 15, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    Thank you for sharing this important info. I’ll definitely be sharing on facebook!

    Reply
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  10. Katie

    August 7, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    I used a Belly Bandit (purchased on Craigslist) for a few weeks after the birth of my daughter was born and not only did it help a lot, it felt good! After giving birth, I (as many do) had extra skin and ‘stuff’ around my belly and that pressure felt great! The Belly Bandit wasn’t perfect in that I have wide hips and a small waist, so I often had to tug it back down into place, but my uterus returned to its pre-pregnancy size in record time and I quickly not only dropped my baby weight, but also went under pre-pregnancy weight (I am sure this is due to many contributing factors, including the belly binding). Thank you for sharing this information, this is a widely unknown practice in the US, but it is wonderful!

    Reply
  11. Meri Haertel

    August 21, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    I came across this article a few months ago and I just had my baby on Friday. I have been trying to find something to bind my belly, but in all the research I have done, I haven’t been convinced that any of the products on amazon or belly bandit are the best way to bind. You said you got yours from thetummyteam.com but I didn’t see where you could purchase them. What do you recommend? This is my 4th and possibly last baby and my abs have felt so sore since having her, so I think binding my belly will be really helpful. Thanks for the help and I’m excited to get to the point to do the exercises.

    Reply
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  13. Shasta

    December 4, 2012 at 11:58 am

    After 5 children ranging in age from 21 – 7 years old, and one, possibly 2, miscarriages, I wonder if belly binding would help me. I am small, 5’1″, but I weigh 125-130 pounds, and my waist is staying at a stubborn 30-31″. My back hurts all of the time, and I usually blame it on falling 40′ back when I was 17, then the births of my children. The last 2 were particularly hard births–all but the first were Pitocin inductions. My kids and I walk most days (2-3 miles), and I do a workout routine on the days when we don’t walk. I thank you for any advice.

    Reply
  14. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-94 alignnone photo of Nanci Smith
    Nanci

    April 1, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    I just wanted to add that I started splinting (soon after I found out about diastasis from Fit2B) now that the youngest of my 6 children is 2 1/2 years old.
    I wish I had known this sooner!
    Splinting along with Bethany’s exercises has really helped me heal.

    The splint I bought was Gabrialla from Target, just to give some other options if you can’t afford the higher priced ones. (If you have the Target Red Card you get 5% off and free shipping) It’s less expensive than some of the other ones, and highly effective. It’s comfortable, too. I agree with the reviewer that said to buy a size smaller than you think you need.
    http://www.target.com/p/gabrialla-breathable-elastic-abdominal-binder-white-9-wide/-/A-10950836#prodSlot=medium_1_2&term=Gabrialla

    Reply
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  17. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-94 alignnone photo of Sara Shay
    Sara shay

    May 21, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    So I am looking at the one for “pear shaped” but it isn’t very long. I.m afraid it’s just going to give me 2 pooches :/ should I just go for the longer one?

    Reply
    • Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-94 alignnone photo of Beth Learn
      Beth Learn

      May 22, 2013 at 7:15 am

      Hi Sara, If you have a longer torso, go ahead and get the 3 or 4 panel scott binder from Sante Mama. You can call them for further advice. They’re lovely and helpful ladies ;)

      Reply
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    March 14, 2014 at 7:43 am

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    Candice

    September 16, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    How soon after a c section can I wear a splint? This will be my 3rd section and I need to wear one. Thanks for all you do!

    Reply
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