It’s A Cinch

The 411 on postpartum tummy wraps

Girdles, cinchers, compressors—call ‘em what you want, postpartum tummy wraps are making a huge comeback. They’re controversial, to say the least. But what we really wanted to know is: Do they work?

“For many women, there’s a postpartum loss of sensation in different parts of the abdominals,” says post-natal Pilates instructor Alana Reed. “Critical to getting the ‘post-baby belly’ back in shape is re-conditioning the transverse abdominus—the muscle responsible for scooping the abs in and up. A cincher is great for helping women gain sensation and actually feel the ab muscles again.” But Reed and her Movin’ Mamas partner Randi Stone agree that cinchers should not be used as anything other than a prop: “It’s great for reminding women how it feels to use the ab muscles, however the key is to work on replicating that feeling sans cincher.”

Fitnotic founder Sheryl Wilson takes it a step further saying that there’s only one product on the market actually helps to tighten postpartum abs: the Diastasis Rehab Splint (a.k.a. the Tupler Splint), a criss-cross binder of sorts designed to reverse postpartum diastasis—the splitting of the “six-pack” muscles. “The rest of the girdle and belly band styles that have been around forever give you the sensation of sucking in, so you look flatter while you’re wearing it. But as soon as you take them off, everything is blech—out there,” laughs Wilson. “They don’t do anything to help you get back in shape more quickly than someone who doesn’t wear one.”

In the end, if you choose to wear a wrap for cosmetic reasons, Yummy Mummy owner Amanda Cole recommends the Belly Bandit. “It’s one step: wrap around and velcro shut. Voila! No matter how amazing a product is, a new mom will only use it if it’s quick and easy.”