Podcast Episode #43

Abdominal Supports for Pregnancy & Postpartum: Kath Baquie from FitNest Mama

Today we’re going to chat about different forms of abdominal support. I’ll dive into  the three major types of abdominal support garments and the pros and cons for each of them. 
If you want to invest in abdominal support wear I hope you’ll feel more confident in choosing the best kind for you by the end of this episode.
Enjoy!

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Abdominal Supports for Pregnancy & Postpartum: Birth Story

Transcription

INTRODUCTION

If you are pregnant or you’ve recently had a baby, this podcast is for you. I am your host Kath Baquie. a physiotherapist working in women’s health and mum of three. Join me each week as we dive into all things pregnancy care, childbirth, and postnatal recovery, helping you have a wonderful pregnancy and afterbirth experience. And don’t forget to hit subscribe so you don’t miss any episodes.

KATH BAQUIE

Well, Hi there, welcome to Episode 43 of the FitNest Mama Podcast. And thank you to you all for joining me today. Today we are going to chat about different abdominal support garments. I’m going to talk you through the pros and cons of abdominal support where we’re going to discuss the different types of abdominal support. So this is for you, if you’re pregnant, or you’ve had your baby. And by the end of this episode, if you are wanting to have some abdominal supports, I’m hoping you’ll feel a bit more confident about knowing which type of abdominal support garment might be best for you. Please share this episode with any of your pregnant friends or friends who have had a baby recently as I do know it is a question I really commonly get asked about as a physiotherapist for women.

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And finally, I also want to let you know about a free 3 Day Postnatal Workshop that is coming up. So if you’re pregnant, this isn’t for you. But if you are ready to get back into fitness since having a baby then listen up. So this postnatal workshop is for you if you’re keen to get back into running for CrossFit, the gym, tennis or any sport that requires a bit higher impact and higher intensity. In these three days, you will learn if your body is ready for a booster. You will learn if your body is ready to take it to the next stage of your postnatal rehab plan. So by the end of these three days, you will understand more confidently if your pelvic floor muscles are ready for high impact exercise. You will know what general body stability tests are important to do pre running. And you will know how your body has handled these stability tests too. You’ll get access to a quality workout focused on pelvic floor and core with an introduction to higher impact exercises along with a two week running plan to get you on track the right way. All from the comfort of your home. So you will feel confident and empowered after these three days to take your postnatal rehab up to the next level. Just head to https://fitnestmama.com/postnatalworkshop and the link is in the show notes.

Alright, let’s get into this episode. So abdominal support garments. What belly support should I wear during pregnancy? Or what belly bands do I need when I’ve had my baby? What are the maternity belt supports? Pros and cons? These are all super, really common questions. So well, I just want to let you know that this isn’t endorsed by any particular brand. I’m not sponsoring any particular brand. And I’m going to actually try to not talk about brands per se, I’m going to talk about actual garments, because there’s so much out there on the market. And I’m not even fully aware of all the different types coming out because there’s new support garments being released every month, I’m sure of it. I’m going to talk about the main principles. And hopefully that will then help you feel more confident when it comes to choosing your own. So a few things to be aware of right from the get go. This is general information only. So please do consult your healthcare provider with any specific questions.

So these garments should never feel uncomfortable, and they should never be too tight either. So if you’re not sure if the support garment is right for you and your pregnancy, you do need to just check in with your doctor or your healthcare provider. Right. So, these are my experiences and professionally and personally. Unfortunately, there’s not much evidence in writing, research out there investigating the effectiveness of these support garments. So it really does come down to personal preference and having a chat with your healthcare provider about your personal situation.

There’s a couple of things to bear in mind, I’m going to talk about three different main types of terminal support were the first commonly known one bands like Tubigrip, or belly bands. They’re the bands that you can sort of step into, and they wrap around your tummy area. The second type, I’m going to talk about a more the shorts. So these are the support garments, where they’ve got the abdominal support, and then there might also have that parallel support that support around your pelvic floor area. And then the third type, which I won’t go into as much detail, but I will touch on a pelvic belt. And belts are used more for, if you have pain issues, like pelvic girdle pain or back pain issues.

So there are three main generic types of support wear and they do all have pros and cons. It’s not a simple matter of saying, “Yep, this is the best short out there.” Because it really does depend on your individual situations. So let’s go through the pros and cons of each of these different types.

And then the one more thing I wanted to bring out before we go into the pros and cons is these abdominal support garments, we just need to keep in mind that they’re designed to help support your abdominals. But I really think these should be used as a bit of a stop gap while you’re pregnant and you know, you recently had your baby. They use this bit of a stop gap until you’ve got your strength back again. So they can be amazing at helping provide that support around your abdominals that are stretched or weakened. But we don’t want to become fully reliant on these external supports. I have had women come and see me in the clinic 12 to 18 months postnatal, and they say they still feel like they need to wear their belly bands or whatever it is they’ve got on because they feel so weak. And the issue is they just haven’t yet started any postnatal rehab. So they can be a great stopgap. But I just wanted to bring up the point that they’re not something that you’re going to be wanting to use long term. And they’re great to use in combination with an exercise plan.

Okay, so let’s talk about bands first. So the common ones you might hear of a Tubigrip, belly bands, there’s lots you can get, I believe you can get some from Target and different maternity shops. So these are like the tubes that you step into, not the bands that you step into, or that you wrap around yourself. So the pros of these bands, the good point so that they are often quite a lot cheaper, and they’re really easy to put on and off. And in those early days postpartum. Or even if you’re heavily pregnant, there’s a lot to be said for the ease of being able to put things on and off when you need to. I know with all the pad changes that can come with those first few days and weeks postpartum to be holding on shorts up and down.

It can be hard work. So a Tubigrip can be nicely put on in the morning and then taken off at night time when you go to bed. And you don’t have to worry about it in between. So they’re quite comfortable and they’re generally really well tolerated. The Tubigrio does have latex in it. So if you’re allergic to latex, it’s not for you. But they can feel really lovely and supportive. And I’ve had so many women, I just love it and I loved having Tubigrip. I had a size for when I was pregnant. So the larger size is L and smaller size is K generally or L. It depends what size you are. So during pregnancy you might want the size L or M so if you’re oversize, 14 dress size, you might need an M and then once you’ve had your baby, size K or if you’re over size 14, or 16 dress size, you might need the L postnatal. Now you can generally get Tubigrip at Women’s Health Physio Clinics and some hospital departments stock them as well. Something you can check with your midwife or obstetrician next time you get the doctor otherwise you might need to find your local women’s health physio. And the Tubigrip is sort of a band that you just cut off a half meter. It’s a big long roll. So it’s certainly doesn’t look fancy, but it’s low cost and it genuinely feels really supportive. And then there’s also more fancy looking ones that you can buy on the market too. So women have told me they feel really supported. They feel their abdominal air feels less heavy. So there’s quite a few pros for bands.

The cons, the points we just need to be aware of is that they don’t offer any perineal support. So if you do have pelvic floor issues or concerns, or yeah, they don’t provide that support from that perineal area, so they might not be for you. If you’ve got problems with prolapse, they can also be a bit hot in summer. So at the moment, at the time of recording, we’re in winter, I’m in Melbourne, so don’t need to worry about that. But I guess with shorts and Tubigrips, they can be really hot in summer. And I know if you’re heavily pregnant, that can be a big issue, too.

So I’ve talked about the different sizes. Again, don’t wear them if they’re too tight, they should feel comfortable, but not restrictive, like firm but not restricted. And if in doubt, touch base with your healthcare provider.

Okay, so now going on to the shorts. Again, there’s quite a lot on the market. And I won’t mention them all today. But the common ones you’ll hear about SRC or Solidea as well. The good point is that they provide that perineal support, and they actually have a gusset. So that’s like an extra layer of support around this perineal area. So if you’re getting a cheaper brand of shorts, if you want that perineal support, just check how much support is around that gusset area. And it’s a different shape. If you look at the SRC shorts, so in the solidea, you’ll notice the gusset, they don’t have the scene in the middle. It’s the gusset, so the scenes are more on the outside. Hard to explain on a podcast, I’ll have to do a post on it to show you. So they do provide a bit of perineal support, which can be fantastic if you’ve got pelvic floor concerns. And also in that early stage postpartum if you’ve had a vaginal delivery.

However, having said that, if you’ve had a vaginal delivery, I do find the personally, I found the SRC shorts quite hard to put on and off because they are quite the tightened, you know, they provide compression. And with all the pad changes in those first few days, I tend to recommend to women, they just wait a few days until they feel comfortable enough to be pulling those tight SRC shorts or supportive shorts on and off. Hopefully that makes sense.

They are also thought to be quite helpful with pelvic girdle pain or low back pain. So if you do have pain, and you want to buy shorts or bands, that’s great. But I always do recommend any sort of abdominal support garments are used in combination with a treatment plan. Just so that you’re not relying solely on the shorts or the band. And then you also get that personalized assessment and treatment too. So the SRC shorts, or solidea, or any type of support garments that are the shorts, they are also great for when you get back into exercising. And I really did appreciate my shorts for those short walks in. Those first 6 to 12 weeks, while I was still building up my muscle strength, and the abdominal control, and my pelvic floor strength and all those sorts of things. So as I said at the start, they’re a great stop gap, just helping get that little bit more support. Again, it’s all very subjective. So some women don’t find much benefit at all when wearing the shorts, whereas other women think they’re amazing. So it is different for each situation.

Okay, the cons of the shorts are that they can be more expensive. So I think it’s also quite easy to buy the wrong size. Because you are best getting fitted with the shorts, there’s some measurements that you need to take. So this is why I think if you’re buying the shorts, and you’ve got some concerns with the pelvic floor, or any aches or pains, you may as well spend the money to go to Women’s Health Physio, and let them size you up and fit you up and recommend the right one because otherwise it might be a waste of money if you order online, get the wrong size, or it might not help with the pain side of things. So just bear that in mind. I find the shorts can be a bit trickier to get on and off. So that’s why if you have just had a baby, and if especially if you’ve had a CES area and I tend to recommend from day 5 onwards is when you might feel more comfortable to be able to put the shorts on. And again, if in doubt, check with your health care provider. So that’s it for the shorts in a nutshell.

And now going on to the pelvic belts. So again, there’s a few out there. There are Mitton belts or the Serola belts, these are often used if you’ve got issues with pelvic girdle pain or back pain. If you’ve got pain, I wouldn’t be buying anything online, because you do need to get fitted up for these belts. And it also might not be the right one for you. So you might be wasting your money if you try to buy it online. So head to your local women’s health physios. Get yourself onto an action plan. Get fitted for a belt that will help you so that you don’t waste your money. And it will also help getting your action plan, you know, with exercises and strictures and some soft tissue work as well because if you’re in pain, never put up with it always kind of seek that personal treatment. And if you’re based in Melbourne, you can find me at https://www.shefithealth.com.au/. So I do work clinically as well as having the online program. And a quick word on that with that if you do have aches and pains, rather than just relying on pelvic belts and you know getting lots of cushions and pillows while you’re sleeping, do modify your exercises or have a think about what workouts you’re doing and what exercises you’re doing and have a think about if you need to modify them. So that you can still stay as active as possible during pregnancy but not in a way that’s going to cause discomfort. Because sometimes walking are not helpful if you’ve got pelvic girdle pain unfortunately. Because walking so great, but sometimes we do even if it’s just for a few weeks, you do need to modify your workouts or your exercises so that we can just help that pain to settle, nip it in the bud, rather than persevering with things that are going to potentially flare up the pain.

So that’s it in a nutshell, ladies, we’ve talked about the pros and cons of bands, shorts, and belts. Relatively short episode. As I mentioned, if you’ve got any concerns at all, if you’re not sure it’s right for you, go and have a chat to your doctor or healthcare provider. And if you are wanting to have some support with your pregnancy or postnatal workouts that physio created and physio safe, come and check us out at https://fitnestmama.com/. So it’s f-i-t-n-e-s-t-m-a-m-a

So that’s it, ladies. Thank you so much for joining me today. I do appreciate it. It’s always great honour to be in your ears. And I look forward to you joining me next week for another episode of the FitNest Mama Podcast.

Thanks for listening to the FitNest Mama Podcast brought to you by the FitNest Mama Freebies found at www.fitnestmama.com/free. So please take a few seconds to leave a review, subscribe so you don’t miss an episode. And be sure to take a screenshot of this podcast, upload it to your social media and tag me at @fitnestmama so I can give you a shout out too. Until next time. Remember an active pregnancy, confident childbirth, and strong postnatal recovery is something that you deserve. Remember, our disclaimer materials and contents in this podcast are intended as general information only and shouldn’t substitute any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. I’ll see you soon.

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