Last month I wrote about the first thing you will need after giving birth: comfortable postpartum underwear. The next most important thing for many moms – especially after a C-Section – is a postpartum abdominal binder.
A C-section is a major surgery that typically requires weeks of recovery time. And yet it’s the most common surgical procedure in the US—one that has skyrocketed over the last few decades. Today about one in three births in the USA is a C-section. I’m sure you have heard mixed messages about the risks and benefits of C-section versus vaginal birth and it is important that you talk to your doctor or midwife about this, so you can make the best decision for you and your baby. A good resource with unbiased research is the childbirthconnection.org website.
If you end up having a C-section, you should wear an abdominal binder for at least 4 to 6 weeks after giving birth to support your abdominal muscles. According to WebMD that is how long it can take for a cesarean incision to heal. Even after this initial healing period however, it isn't unusual to have occasional pains in the area for up to a year after your surgery. That is why you need to help your body heal itself by giving it sufficient support. A clinical trial done in 2015 and published in “Obstetrics & Gynecology” states that patients report “significantly lower” post-operative pain scores when they wear an abdominal binder after C-section.
During the C-section the surgeon cuts into layers of tissue and muscle in a sensitive area that can lead to infections, blood clots or injury to your bowel or bladder. Like with most abdominal surgeries, compressing your abdomen after the procedure will help reduce swelling and increase blood flow. Additional benefits of applying an abdominal binder after childbirth – even if you haven’t had a C-section - are supporting the uterus and providing peace of mind to the patient to move around.
Many – but not all - hospitals will give you an abdominal binder after a C-section to take home. If you wear and wash it over 6 weeks however you will more than likely need to order at least one additional one. It’s important to choose an abdominal binder that is lightweight, breathable and comfortable. The fabric should not roll up and the binder should be easy to adjust as your tummy returns to its normal shape and you lose your postpartum baby bump.
An important thing to look at, is what the binder is made of and how it closes. One end of the binder usually has a panel of Velcro©-like plastic hooks. Many cheap imported abdominal binders are made of stiff elastic that is not hook receptive. Instead the other end of these binders has a panel of hook receptive “plush” fabric sewn on to the elastic. The stitching, the panel and the elastic all are potential causes of irritation – or worse - when they touch your incision.
Special postpartum binders – like ours – on the other hand are made of a super soft knitted elastic that is hook receptive over the entire length of the binder. This means you can easily adjust the size of the binder and the compression it gives you as your body changes. It also means there is less stitching that can irritate your skin and your incision.