Thursday, May 5, 2011

Compression: A postpartum woman's best friend. (The Best $100+ I Ever Spent!)

Towards the end of my second pregnancy I had an interesting conversation with a dear friend's wife. We were discussing our c-section recoveries, and apparently her OB prescribed a compression "garment" to aid in her recovery from surgery. Compression garment?  I marveled. I wondered why my OB (who teaches at Harvard!) never mentioned this little bit of advice to me.

I got home and promptly forgot about our conversation. About two months later Miss Rosie was born, and my recovery was quick and easy compared to The Talker's. A compression garment never crossed my mind: Rosie kept me very busy! But during my third pregnancy the idea resurfaced in my mind, and I did a little research.  Apparently abdominal binding is commonplace in various cultures, and women report a variety of benefits from compression. Apparently women from Japan to Mexico to England bind their bellies after birth. I ended up buying a compression garment from Bellefit: it is worn like a half leotard - with hook-and-eye closures to make visits to the bathroom manageable. 


Okay, so take a good, long look at the picture on the right.  Yes, that is my belly and me (pretty sure the belly was bigger than the rest of me put together!) about a week before The Bruiser was born. I mean, seriously - how did I even stand up!?! I look at the photo now, and honestly, I sort of want to cry.  My legs look truly insufficient, don't they?

After all 10+ pounds of the Bruiser arrived, I started itching to try my BelleFit corset. Yes, my empty belly was lax. And yes, my back ached when I stood. I stooped a bit upon standing, and hobbled around the hospital room for a full day gathering my courage. And yes, I was nervous to wear it - my tummy hadn't fit into anything that small in at least six months. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get the thing on - and that would've been truly upsetting.

But both my midwife and my physical therapist recommended that I wear the compression garment ASAP, so as soon as we were settled at home, I shut the door to our bedroom, took a deep breath, exhaled, and squished myself into the Bellefit.  The relief I felt was immediate.  I stood up straight and felt no discomfort in my back or belly at all.  As a girlfriend of mine says, "This thing is a dream!"  I was back in my pre-pregnancy "skinny" jeans within three weeks. The Bruiser is now 12 weeks, and I don't need the Bellefit anymore, but I did wear it on Easter Sunday just to smooth things out.  Its uses continue!

And though I haven't tried other belly binding products, I'm not sure how others that simply wrap around your midsection can compare to this one.  Bellefit is sort of like one of those 80s bodysuits - minus the bust and arms, of course.  You step into it and pull it on, adjust it so the top is pulled right up under your bra, and fastened underneath with hook-and-eye closures. The Bellefit was surprisingly comfortable, though by the end of the day I was ready to take it off. Perhaps that is a sign that it is tight enough to do the job?

There are other abdominal binders out there, too. Wrap-style binders are fundamentally different - and achieving the right amount of "tightness" seems like it would be difficult.  Or at least you'd need a husband or friend to pull it tight enough to make a significant difference, right? I bet any kind of compression helps, though. I just preferred the style of the Bellefit to the others I saw on the Web.

Though the best part of the compression was how it felt, I can't deny its emotional benefits, either. Feeling good in your skin is not really one of those things that postpartum women typically get to do immediately. Wearing the Bellefit changed that for me.  I absolutely abhor my stretched out skin hanging over the waistband of my pants. (Seriously, who doesn't?) There was none of that when I was "compressed." It was wonderful - and it made me feel better about my body much sooner than I'd expected. That was a big plus as I navigated the familiar but nevertheless exhausting waters of those early weeks with our newest angel. The picture to the left was taken on the Bruiser's three month birthday.  I tend to hold on to about 10 pounds until I'm done nursing, but right now my clothes fit well.  No complaints!

The bottom line is that I wish I'd had a garment like this after each of my pregnancies! I am grateful to have benefited from the healing graces of compression to restore my midsection to its proper shape. Simply put: compression heals, ladies!





**Disclaimer** Bellefit offers an additional support garment to those women who choose to write a review and take before and after photos of their postpartum bodies. I don't have a "before" picture -- i.e., one that shows my postpartum belly. I chose to write this blog post on my own, regardless of whether or not Bellefit offers me a second support garment.

4 comments:

  1. what size did you get? i can relate to your pregnancy picture!

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  2. Very Nice .............I use C-section support belt After some days.i feel better............

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