Are Belly Bands Actually Safe? We Asked an Expert
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably noticed our collective obsession with belly bands has reached an all-time high. If you have been living under a rock (or just minus a baby), allow us to fill you in. Not to be confused with waist trainers or corsets, belly bands are compression garments designed for use during and after pregnancy. Celebrity proponents have undoubtedly made the practice popular of late—Jessica Alba’s girdle technique was much publicised, as was Nicole Trunfio’s admission that she wore a stomach wrap for three months post-delivery.
Along with this popularity has come so.much.confusion. With the garment referred to interchangeably as a belly band, waist wrap, stomach wrap or girdle, it’s certainly hard to nut out specifics. Google “belly bands” and you’ll turn up countless glowing vlog reviews, but a lot of mainstream reporting suggests that at best these garments don’t work, and at worst they’re potentially dangerous. Armed with a tonne of questions, we went straight to Dr. Christopher Smith—an obstetrician and gynaecologist—to get the facts.
Dr. Smith says it's believed that belly bands can be used safely both during pregnancy and post-delivery for lower back and abdominal support: “Not only do they offer additional comfort during daily activities, they reduce soreness associated with abdominal wall expansion in the late trimesters.” Dr. Smith goes on to say there is some concern that wearing a belly band during pregnancy may impair blood circulation, and negatively impact pelvic floor and bowel function. For this reason he recommends women only wear belly bands for short periods at a time to prevent dependency, and encourages their use alongside core muscle strengthening programs.
With regards to weight loss, belly bands don’t seem to be the magic post-baby stomach flatteners they’re made out to be. “There is no current medical evidence to support claims that belly bands promote weight loss following pregnancy, and their use should not replace the role of healthy lifestyle modifications including a balanced diet and exercise regime,” says Dr. Smith. In short, like topical skin-firming treatments (Radical Skincare's Firming Body Multi-Repair, $112, is a good one BTW), belly bands are a great compliment to—not stand-in for—a healthy lifestyle.
Our take? If you’re seeking a cure for a medical issue, see your GP—Dr. Google can never take the place of a real doctor. “Women suffering persistent lower back pain or significant abdominal separation should be encouraged to seek expert opinion from their health professional,” adds Dr. Smith.
What are your thoughts on belly bands? Have you tried one?