It turns out that our grandmothers were right all along: Postpartum girdles are an important part of the recovery process. They can help you to stave off back problems, poor posture, and diminished muscle tone in the core region. However, they are not a miracle cure. Postpartum girdles will not restore your pre-baby figure in a week, and they are not a substitute for exercise.
What they can do is give you an instant confidence boost and make it easier to get back to your daily life, including caring for your new bundle of joy.
The History Of Girdles
You may think that wearing girdles is a relatively new phenomenon, but the concept has been around for thousands of years. Girdles have been used by many ancient cultures worldwide, and were typically linked with fertility and childbearing. In fact, Ishtar – the Egyptian goddess of fertility – was illustrated wearing a girdle.
The Difference Between a Girdle and A Corset
Girdles and corsets have a similar purpose, to helps slim and support your core.
In terms of their differences, the boning used in corsets makes them stiff enough to remain in place on your body. Because they lace up, corsets can be pulled extremely tight to temporarily or permanently reduce waist size and elevate the breasts. If used incorrectly, they can cause damage to vital organs, result in broken ribs, and can create breathing difficulties.
Comprised of firm but stretchy material, girdles do not contain boning. The design allows them to provide compression and support without being so tight as to risk damage to your organs.
What Can a Girdle Do For You?
Following delivery, a girdle can help you to:
- Recovery faster
- Relieve diastasis recti (abdominal separation)
- Shrink the uterus
- Boost confidence
- Reduce pain
- Help protect C-Section incision
Wearing a postpartum girdle can help you walk farther after delivery – getting you back to your normal activities faster.
Postpartum Pelvic Girdle Pain (PPGP)
Postpartum Pelvic Girdle Pain (PPGP) affects up to 25% of mothers after delivery. Although PPGP often resolves within 4 months, 20% of women may experience symptoms even 2-3 years later.
Abdominal support, like a postpartum girdle provides, is one of the standard treatments for PPGP. It is believed to reduce intensity and duration of pain.
Incidence of Postpartum Pelvic Girdle Pain (PPGP)
Choosing the Right Girdle For You
There are several things you should take into consideration when you are choosing the right girdle for you.
What’s Your Area of Concern?
Some girdles are designed to give you lots of tummy support, but not a lot of back support. Others may give you firm compression in both areas. Most girdles will have compression panels, so you can easily see where they offer support. This is important not just for aesthetic purposes, but to help relieve pain. If you have pain in your abdomen, back, or both, you will want to choose a girdle that supports those areas.
Hook and Eye Closure vs Zipper
There are many different styles of girdle on the market. Some offer 3 rows of button-up closures in the front so that you can adjust their tightness according to your needs. These are a great option if you want to avoid having to purchase more than one girdle as your abdomen starts to return to its normal size.
Some girdles come with a zipper on the side. Although these are convenient (easy to put on or take off) they are not adjustable.
Other designs offer the best of both worlds, featuring an adjustable button closure and a zipper on the side.
Alternatively, some girdles have no closures and are simply one piece. These can be more difficult to get into, but they stay in place and you won’t have to worry about the closures being seen under your clothes.
You’ll want a girdle that allows for easy bathroom access, especially considering how frequent your bathroom trips will be following delivery.
Many girdles have snaps or buttons on the crotch, called a gusset, so that you can use the bathroom without removing the girdle. I highly recommend selecting a girdle with this feature.
Bra or No Bra
A majority of girdles will hit directly below your bust line. However, some are designed with shoulder straps for maximum support and to help with your posture. They can also prevent the girdle from moving out of place.
Some girdles also have a built-in corset that functions as a bra. I do not recommend this type of girdle for postpartum wear, because your breasts will change sizes and likely much sooner than your waistline. In other words, finding a girdle that fits your breasts now and a few weeks down the road can be a difficult task.
A better option is to choose a girdle that allows you to wear your own bra. This ensures the proper fit and support in all areas. This is also great if you are nursing, because it allows you to combine a nursing bra with your girdle.
Are you feeling cheeky? If you enjoy wearing thongs or high cut underwear, you can find girdles with the same design. You can choose full rear coverage, or “cheeky” minimal coverage. Girdles are also available in thong, so you can choose the rear cut that fits your needs best.
If your butt needs firming and shaping after your delivery, a full rear offers the lift and support that makes you look great. However, if your butt is already on the smaller side, a full rear can make it look flat. If you want to show off your natural curves, choose a cheeky cut or thong.
Registered Medical Device
Some postpartum girdles are registered medical devices. A registered medical device is approved by the Food and Drug Administration to diagnose, prevent, or treat a disease or other condition. When selecting a postpartum girdle, choosing one that is registered as a medical device to ensure that you get the support and quality that you need.
When you purchase a girdle, you will likely be wearing it up to six months after pregnancy. In fact, many women choose to continue wearing girdles long after they give birth. Simply put, you will want a girdle that can stand up to everyday wear.
Some less expensive brands sacrifice quality for price. Bear in mind that it may fit well at first, but will likely become looser and less supportive over time. In addition to choosing a girdle with support panels (that is a registered medical device), there are a few other factors to consider.
First, the best girdles have 3 different layers. It is unlikely that you will be able to see these layers, but the information will be contained in the manufacturer’s listing.
Second, when shopping for a girdle, check the quality of the fasteners. Velcro is cheaper than other methods, and may indicate a lower overall quality. Hook and eye closures or a well-made zipper are better options, though a little more expensive to manufacture.
A postpartum girdle can bring you many benefits. They can relieve PPGP pain, diastasis recti, shrink your uterus, reduce postpartum bleeding, and protect C-section incisions. They can also help you to be more active and experience less pain following childbirth.
Not Just Physical Benefits
In addition to the physical benefits, wearing a postpartum girdle can give you a confidence boost. Your body performs a miracle throughout pregnancy and during childbirth, but all the changes your body goes through can be difficult to handle.
After you give birth, you may experience frustration when your body doesn’t return to its pre- pregnancy state as quickly as you would like it to. No one wants to be asked “When is the baby due?” after giving birth.
A postpartum girdle can instantly make you look slimmer and more shapely, which can give you the confidence to enjoy your postpartum life and focus on building a bond with your new bundle of joy.