Can I wear an abdominal belt to tighten my stomach following delivery?
Q: I just had a caesarean baby. I was advised by a friend to start wearing a band kind of a thing available with chemists shops around my stomach after 2 weeks to prevent my stomach from growing in size due to the surgery. I want to know if this is safe to wear? When should I start wearing this and for how long, are there any side affects?
A:The stomach does not grow because of the caesarian nor does abdominal wall become weak and flabby because of some deficiency left in stitching after the surgery. The abdominal wall becomes weak due to childbirth itself (whether you have a normal delivery or caesarian) your chances of having a flabby/loose belly is the same. During the last few months of the pregnancy the abdominal wall is overstretched damaging the fibers of the abdominal wall muscles/ligaments. This leads to a soft and loose abdominal wall which is inevitable after childbirth. However various binders are used in various societies. In Japan many women wear a binder throughout their pregnancy in the belief that it will keep the fetus in place and reduce stretch marks and softening of the abdominal wall after childbirth. This however has not happened to Japanese women so far despite using these abdominal binders for centuries. The abdomen of Japanese women is as soft as women in any other society/nation after childbirth. The strength of the wall is dependant on the muscles and fibrous tissue in wall and not dependant on the external pressure on the wall. These are cultural/traditional beliefs and there is no scientifically proven logic to it. In todays market economy there is a product in the market for every demand. I am not surprised to know that such binders are available and indeed being prescribed (sometimes by doctors and sometimes by your peer group like your friend. if you use such binders, is there a harm? well they are inconvenient in this hot weather and with breast feeding they may get soiled often and may not remain clean and dry as all clothes on the body should be (especially with oncoming monsoon) and may not be hygienic for you and your baby. You may feel that you are contributing to your recovery from the caesarian and reduce damage from the caesarian but there is no scientific logic to it. Please understand that post delivery overweight (big belly and fat around the hips) it due to overeating after childbirth. Not only too much food but also the wrong type of food. If you eat too much of raw fats and sugars and too little of fruits vegetables and fibers you will put on weight and in all the wrong places. All the weight you may have put on during pregnancy you must lose now. Just avoid all the panjeeri and ghee fed to new mothers in this country in the name of nutrition and you will not gain weight. Indeed breast feeding is the time to eat well. You eat what you like and as much. Frequent small meals (eat to demand) but do not stuff yourself. You will feel hungry often but traditionally families overfeed you with ghee panjeeri and special nursing foods please avoid all that and have healthy balanced diet with fruits and vegetables and fiber. Some animal protein and plenty of minerals and vitamins. You do not need fats and sugars (not even one spoonful of panjeeri/ghee/and other nursing foods is required if you can eat fruits and vegetables!). Please start eating sensibly and do not put off losing weight until after breast feeding is over (something your friends and peer group and family may try and tell you) to remain thin and healthy. Resist force feeding of traditional jacchaa(new mother) foods and you should be ok! If you manage to lose all the weight you gained during pregnancy within 6-8 months you will not get a flabby belly (which is a sign of too much weight/fat and not inevitable because of a caesarian). The abdominal wall will be soft but dose not have to be flabby! I hope you are enjoying new motherhood! I wish you all best for the future.