What is a "Maternity Girdle"?
Maternity girdles have a unique place in the world of waist training. They are definitely similar to other waist trainers, but have a different purpose and do not usually slim the waist as much as a traditional corset or even cincher does. This is because they are designed less to produce an hourglass figure and more to provide support to the abdomen and lower back of postpartum women while their bodies recover from giving birth.
Because of their different role, maternity girdles often do not get mentioned alongside the likes of corsets, cinchers and trimmers when waist training is discussed in magazines or fashion blogs. However, we were at Get Waisted totally believe that maternity girdles absolutely have their own unique spot to fill in the wide world of waist trainers! So, we've written you this handy dandy guide introducing you to everything GIRDLES!
Defining a Maternity Girdle
To start out with, we must acknowledge the fact that a maternity girdle has many names. Sometimes, it's shortened to just girdle.
Instead of maternity, the word you might see in front of it could be postpartum or postnatal. Other times, you will see it called a support band, a belly band, belly wrap or belly belt, or even a baby belly band (slash wrap slash belt)! If that sounds confusing, don't worry. For the purpose of this article, we're just going to stick with "girdle"!
A maternity girdle is usually made out of a stretchy material such as latex or nylon or maybe spandex. If you have a latex allergy, however, you are usually able to find hypoallergenic versions made out of 100% cotton or even natural fabric made from recycled materials such as bamboo. (As most girdles are designed to be worn directly against the skin, we recommend that latex allergy sufferers take caution and actively seek out other materials.)
Some brands of girdle are designed to be able to be worn both during and after pregnancy, providing support for the "baby bump" or covering up patches of skin which might otherwise show due to clothes not fitting as well as they usually do. As always, ask your doctor before wearing any kind of girdle while you are still pregnant.
The majority of girdles; however, are intended to be worn from shortly after the baby has been delivered until the core and abdominal muscles are re-strengthened, the uterus has shrunk, and all organs have shifted back into their intended places. (This process will take different amounts of time for each individual woman, so don't worry if your timeline doesn't match up exactly with what this article describes or your doctor predicts.)
See our general post-birth training article here to learn all about the amazing benefits which a maternity girdle provides!
Getting the Right Fit
Because your body will shift and change during the post-natal period, it is okay to take these measurements during your pregnancy, as measuring your pre-pregnancy body might result in ending up with a girdle which is too small.Measuring yourself for a girdle is very similar to measuring yourself for a corset, cincher or other more standard waist trainer. You need to use a soft measuring tape to record the circumference of your bust, natural waist, and hips and the length of your torso from the base of your breasts to the top of your hips.
Like waist trainers, girdles often come in a variety of numerical sizes based on the four measurements discussed above. However, because they are usually made from elastic material and are specifically designed for use during a period when bodies are undergoing a large amount of change, some varieties of girdle instead come in a single "one size fits all" version.
If you are worried about potentially selecting a girdle which does not fit, don't be afraid to buy multiple versions in a range of different sizes. This can give you options which will allow you to choose what's right and get the best fit even during a time when your body might literally be changing sizes every single day.
Choosing the Right Style
Girdles come in a wide range of styles, some of which are actually inspired by the different types of waist trainer!
We've included a brief description of some of the most popular styles below. Like we said in the section about "Size" above, if you're not sure exactly what will be right for you, don't be afraid to experiment - purchase multiple styles and try them all on! You might even find that they all work for you, with each having its own separate and unique purpose!
Zipper style girdles usually stop below the breast, similar to an underbust corset, and cover the bottom and the tops of the thighs (so they can be worn over or in place of your usual underwear). This type of girdle often resembles a fusion between a cincher and a butt lifter.They usually come with either one zipper up the front or two zippers, one on each side. Two-zipper versions are more flexible in terms of sizing, as one or both sides can be partially unzipped to loosen the garment somewhat.
Corset style girdles are, as the name suggests, inspired by the traditional corset. They usually are boned, although they are likely to contain fewer bones than the average corset and use a flexible material such as plastic rather than steel. Instead of stretchy latex, they are made from thick, rigid material, such as medical grade cotton. Like the corset itself, a corset girdle provides the greatest amount of support to the torso and abdomen but limits range of motion more than other styles. They usually do not lace up the back and have only a single line of fastenings, often hook and eye style, up the front. Both "underbust" inspired and "overbust" inspired varieties exist.
Pull-up style girdles resemble a pair of high-waisted underwear, covering the thighs, hips, bottom and lower abdomen but not usually extending as far up the ribcage towards the chest as a cincher would. They are typically made from stretchy material and do not often have any fastenings. You would put on this type of girdle by "pulling it up" just as you would a normal pair of pants or underwear. They provide the most support to the lower abdomen but the least to the upper abdomen, spine and chest area.
Wrap style girdles are inspired by the waist trimming belt and are intended to be extremely easy to put on and take off. They take the form of a wide, elastic belt which wraps around the waist and abdomen. These girdles can fasten either at the front or the back and use either hook and eye fastenings or Velcro, depending on the style. They are extremely supportive and easy to use, but can be bulky and difficult to conceal under clothing when compared to any other girdle style. They are also often less expensive due to containing less overall fabric.
Which style of girdle works best for you can depend on any number of things. If you need extra support due to lingering pain or injury sustained during delivery, go with the corset girdle. When your plan is to do some light exercise to re-strengthen your core, wear a wrap style girdle for extra support. If you just want something to give some definition to your figure that can easily be worn under your daily wardrobe, we recommend either a zipper or pull up style.
Wearing & Caring
Once your brand new girdle has arrived, the first thing to do is make sure it fits. Wear it around the house for a few hours. Does it feel too tight? Are there any areas which are causing you pain or discomfort? Is it itchy? When you take it off, do you see any red, rash-like marks or irritated patches of skin? On the other hand, it's also important to make sure that your girdle isn't too loose.
The primary purpose of a girdle, after all, is to provide support to your torso and stomach. Too-loose garments can ride up, bunch or roll as you move around, showing through clothes and irritating you at the exact same time. Unlike a corset or cincher, a properly fitted girdle can be safely worn just about 24/7. It's actually recommended that you wear your girdle as much as possible for maximum support, rather than sticking to 8-10 hours per day as you would with a corset.
Sleeping in a girdle is a good idea, especially if you are someone who frequently tosses, turns, or moves around in your sleep. It will prevent any reversal of the day's progress. However, you should remove your girdle when taking a bath or shower or going swimming. Even if a girdle is made of waterproof material, bathing in it can leave moisture trapped between the garment and your skin and cause chafing, rashes, irritation, or even the buildup of mildew or mold. Instead, use bath time as an opportunity to air out your girdle. Put it somewhere clean and dry where it will be exposed to the air, such as a drying rack or outdoor clothesline. This will help keep mildew away.
Clean your girdle regularly - no less than every few days.If it starts to smell bad, take the girdle off and clean it immediately. We recommend washing it by hand with either plain water or gentle, un-scented soap or detergent. (If you live in an area which sells cleaning products with the "biological" label, avoid using any of these and stick to "non-biological" soaps). Let the girdle air-dry after cleaning - do NOT put it into a machine dryer. If you notice any stains on your girdle, spot-clean it immediately with a gentle soap or stain remover. As girdles must be air-dried and may take several hours to do so depending on weather or climate, it's a good idea to have multiple options available so you never have to go without. Check out our article here for more information about how to properly clean a waist training garment.
Choosing Your Timeline
Okay, you ask, now that I know how to wear a girdle, what about when? When do I start? When do I stop?
The best answer to this question is to ask your doctor - either a general practitioner or pregnancy / birth specialist such as a gynecologist. In most cases, you will be cleared to start wearing your girdle the day after the delivery. However, in the case of C-sections or other complications, your doctor might recommend waiting a few days.
You should probably not wear your girdle at all while still in the hospital unless your doctor specifically requires it, as it will make treating and caring for you more difficult for the attending nurses and doctors. Most women find themselves experiencing good results within 6-8 weeks of regular wear. This is a fairly normal timeline for the uterus to return to its usual size and organs to re-shift into their previous places.
However, every person's body is different, and you may find yourself feeling more comfortable with a shorter or longer timeline. If you were previously a fan of waist training, or enjoyed wearing your girdle and decided you wanted more, you can begin or return to a more standard waist training program once the girdling period is finished. As most waist trainers are somewhat tighter than girdles, you may want to give yourself a "break-in period" where you wear the waist trainer for only a few hours per day at first to get your body accustomed to the differences.
It is not recommended that you wear any sort of rigid boned waist trainer - whether a cincher with plastic bones or a corset with steel ones - any sooner than six weeks post-delivery. Your changing body requires comfort and flexibility, and the stiffness of the bones can prove extremely uncomfortable and even occasionally harmful.
Can You Replace a Girdle?
If you're already a waist training fan with a huge collection of various garments, you may be leery about purchasing one specifically for the few-week period after giving birth. You might instead be wondering if any of your pre-existing waist trainers can be used instead. The answer is yes - if you are careful with your choice and do not go over the recommended 8-10 hours per day.
As stated above, anything with stiff bones should be avoided and can not be used to replace a maternity girdle. The types of waist trainer which can, if necessary, serve as a replacement girdle are:
Cinchers made from loose, elastic material such as latex They can replace either the corset or zipper style maternity girdles. Choose a cincher with a zipper, lacing, or row of hook and eye fastenings to allow for tightening and loosening as necessary.
Butt lifters which do not compress the stomach or waist too tightly. Use one of these if you want something similar to a pull-up style girdle.
Trimming belts can substitute for wrap-style girdles. Choose something with Velcro fastenings for greatest tightening and loosening capability. As this type of trainer is known to induce the most sweating, clean it extremely frequently to avoid rashes or skin irritation.
Maternity girdles can make those first couple weeks with your new baby as stress-free as possible. Not only that, but they provide support, keep your posture looking great, help re-strengthen your core and ab muscles, and can even help heal conditions such as diastasis recti or C-section incisions. (See here for more information about these benefits). So don't wait! Choose a maternity girdle or similarly styled waist trainer from our catalog here and be prepared for when baby arrives! And, as always, feel free to share any of your favorite tips with fellow new moms by contacting us at Get Waisted any time you feel like it!