I was naïve to think that I would return to my pre-pregnancy size after giving birth to my first baby. After gaining 18kg (thanks to an excellent appetite both before and after delivery, not to mention a bar of chocolate every day), it struck me two months after delivery that I just wasn’t getting any smaller in size. I could hardly pull up my jeans or even fit into my tops without stretching the front buttons.
It was only after having my third child that I learnt about relaxin, the hormone naturally secreted during pregnancy, which is responsible for opening and softening the cervix and vagina to aid the process of childbirth. Relaxin also loosens the ligaments at the front of the pelvis (pubis symphysis) and the sacroiliac joints, and allows it to widen, both to support the growing baby and for ease of delivery. Incidentally, relaxin makes you slightly more susceptible to ankle and wrist sprains, and can be blamed for broader shoulders, a widened waistline, and a larger shoe size!
Many women notice their hips are wider after pregnancy, even after returning to their pre-pregnancy weight. The reason for this is because your growing baby pushed them out, eventually engaging in your pelvic cavity. Remember, the pelvic bone is not one big bone; it consists of four bones that are joined together by ligaments. After childbirth your hips looks wider not because your hipbones have grown, but because the ligaments that connect the four bones in your pelvis have loosened and are therefore “stretchable”.
The fact is that relaxin is still present in a mother’s body some eight weeks after delivery, and even longer if you are still breastfeeding.
This is where hip binders (or postnatal corset) come in. By leveraging the relaxin still present in a mother’s body after birth, wearing a hip binder provides an outer compression to gently guide the widened pelvic bones back to their original shape. By capitalising on these normal physiologic changes associated with pregnancy, a hip binder, when worn after delivery, applies pressure directly to your hips to help you return to your pre-pregnancy size.
There are a few hip binders on the market, namely Shrinkx Hips and Hip Slimmer that really help bring in your hips so you can fit into your old clothes once again. Additionally abdominal binding techniques will do the same job most effectively.
I have tried it, and I can attest that it works – I’m back to my size “0” jeans! 🙂
Karen Loke, Founder and Practitioner, Restoring Mums.