Belly Wraps Become the Go-To Product of New Moms' Dreams

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One minute celebrities are pregnant and rocking the baby bump.

The next they are back to bikinis and figure-hugging dresses.

It looks so easy for celebrities but real-life moms say it is not.

"You come home from the hospital, you've just had a baby, you look down and you still look five months pregnant," Ann Pendergist, a stay-at-home mom in New York City told "Good Morning America." "You want to do something about it, but you can't."

Pendergist had always been petite, but when she gave birth to her son, Jackson, 14 months ago, she was surprised to find out how bloated a new mom's stomach remains post-childbirth.

In an effort to get her figure back, Pendergist turned to a shower gift she'd received from a girlfriend.

Called the Cinch, it was a girdlelike apparatus that Pendergist wore around her torso, morning, noon and night.

"It holds you in and makes you feel a little stronger," she told "GMA." "You basically start out at whatever inches your waist is and, as you shrink, you tighten it up and you see your waist size go down."

"That's how you know it's actually working," she explained.

The result of wearing the wrap, for Pendergist, was unbelievable.

"You would say it's miraculous because within a month you're back in your prepregnancy jeans and you didn't have to do anything," she said. "It's not like you have to diet or exercise. You get to just enjoy being a mom."

Pendergist is among a growing number of women turning to belly wrapping, or the binding of the abdomen, in the weeks following childbirth.

Dozens of belly wrapping products, like the Cinch, which purports to flatten the stomach and reduce swelling, are now on the market.

"Belly bands have been around for a long time," Dr. Jay Goldberg, a Beverly Hills obstetrician, told "GMA." "They've been used for hundreds of years, possibly longer."

Goldberg said he believes the abdominal binding, which has been used in Asian and European cultures for centuries, has medical merit. He prescribes belly wraps to about one-half of his patients in the days and weeks following childbirth.

"It provides support. It will reduce swelling in the area," Goldberg said. "You may heal quicker by wearing an abdominal binder with the decreased swelling and additional support."

Goldberg said dozens of celebrities swear by belly binders too.

Among those celebrities is Brooke Burke Charvet, the former champion-turned-host of ABC's "Dancing With the Stars," and a mother of four.

"There's that period of time when you have your baby and you still feel pregnant and you're still bloated and carrying a lot of weight," Charvet, 40, told "GMA." "It's tough. It's a really challenging time."

Charvet, the founder of the parenting-centric website ModernMom.com, used an Ace bandage to wrap herself after the birth of her third child, in 2007.

She was so pleased with the results -- a noticeably tighter belly -- that she decided to create a band of her own.

Called the Tauts Post Pregnancy Wrap by Brooke Burke, Charvet's band, a reproduction of that first band she created, is a corsetlike device now available nationwide.

"It supports that baggy baby skin," she said. "It helps remind you to keep your belly engaged, your abs engaged, which is kind of retraining your muscles."

"It helps you with water retention," Charvet said about her product, which retails for $62. "It just makes you feel like you have some support around your belly, because everything's changing, everything's stretched out."

As Popularity of Belly Wraps Grows, So Too Does Debate Over Effectiveness

Not everyone is convinced of the merits of belly binding.

Fitness expert Sheryl Wilson, herself a mother of two, worries that belly wraps may be sending new moms the wrong message.

"Belly bands really do give moms a false sense of security," said Wilson, founder and owner of Fitnotic, a New York City-based fitness company that specializes in pre- and post-natal exercise.

"There's no truth that a belly band is going to flatten a stomach," she said. "A stomach gets flatter and you lose weight when you eat sensibly and exercise. Those are really the only ways."

The new moms "GMA" spoke with said finding the time to diet and exercise in the weeks after childbirth, however, is easier said than done. It's a process especially complicated if the new mom delivered via a "c-section," which requires additional recovery time.

"You need to buy diapers or you just got spit up on or you need to do laundry," said Lauren Senese, whose son is four months old. "You want to feel better. You want to look better, but being able to do something for yourself is secondary to everything else that needs to be done."

"I would absolutely try a belly band if it were the right price," said Alli Joseph, the mother of a three-week-old. "Why not?"

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