Kylie Jenner was never going to be a regular mom. With a cosmetic line worth millions, adoring fans stalking her every move on social media, and the fact that she’s a Kardashian, baby Stormi’s mama is always going to be in the spotlight. Personally, I try my very best not to judge another person’s life decisions, especially when it comes to the choices they make about their bodies. But when Kylie Jenner’s waist trainer Instagram post went viral, I couldn’t help but face-palm. From my understanding, these body-molding corsets aren’t all that healthy to begin with, but Jenner’s just six weeks postpartum, and some say that factor alone makes wiggling into one of these things a potentially bad idea.
According to Michael Russo, M.D., a bariatric surgeon at MemorialCare Surgical Weight Loss Center at Orange Coast Medical Center, waist trainers do more harm than good for your body, especially if you’ve just given birth. If you’re looking to get your body back in shape after having a baby, Russo told Women’s Health, the goal is to “limit any sort of splinting of your abdominal wall,” and instead, “use healthy core strengthening.” In general, though, Russo noted, new moms really shouldn’t rush back into intense exercising after the birthing process
So what are waist trainers, exactly, and how do they work?
It’s a tale as old as time — well, as long as social media’s been around, at least. Celebrities like the Kardashians, and even Jessica Alba, have uploaded photos boasting about the benefits of various waist trainers, but what do these things actually do to your body when you wear them?
In an exclusive interview with Elite Daily, Dr. Matthew Schulman, an NYC-based, board-certified plastic surgeon, explains that using compression garments or girdles to alter the body’s shape has been an “extremely popular technique” for centuries, and you know what they say about history repeating itself. Well, clearly, society hasn’t learned its lesson yet.
“People should be very careful when waist training,” Dr. Schulman tells Elite Daily, “because it works by squeezing the body into what people think is a more desirable shape.” More specifically, your rib cage and internal organs are “squeezed together in a small intra-abdominal space," which can lead to pain, reflux, and indigestion, he explains.
Waist trainers give the illusion of an hourglass shape, but regularly wearing one of these things won't provide the same results as a consistent workout routine and a healthy diet. Whatever your health and fitness goals are, food is fuel, and it’s extremely necessary to eat an abundance of wholesome, good-for-you foods like veggies, fruits, healthy fats, and proteins to ensure your body is able to function properly.
According to Ben Williamson, founder and CEO of Crush Fit, wearing a waist trainer actually crushes your stomach to the point where your body becomes fuller, faster, and therefore makes you eat less.
“Your body is the [only] one you have to work with," Williamson tells Elite Daily, "so work on building your back and shoulders, mix in some proper nutrition, and work for the body you desire.”
As for wearing a waist trainer after giving birth, experts have mixed opinions about whether or not it's safe.
While many trainers and doctors warn against using waist trainers in general, Lisa Williamson, CEO and co-founder of UpSpring, says these binders might actually help new mothers in their physical recovery.
“Wearing a waist trainer or belly band after pregnancy helps to reduce swelling, rid the body of excess fluids, and helps the core muscles start to regain their muscle memory,” she tells Elite Daily. As for the best time to start wearing a waist trainer postpartum, as long as the mother feels comfortable doing so, and her doctor gives the OK, Williamson says the earlier the better.
Still, other experts are skeptical. According to OBGYN and women's health specialist Sherry Ross, M.D., new moms are recovering from a lot of body changes after giving birth, including hormonal shifts, water retention, and of course, an enlarged uterus that's slowly but surely returning to its usual shape. Ross told Parents,
Waist trainers and belly wraps often claim that they can help relieve water retention and shrink the uterus faster, but this is in no way medically proven.
There's clearly a lot of back and forth between whether or not waist trainers are healthy, postpartum or otherwise. Ultimately, it's up to Jenner if waist training is something she wants to do. All I can say is I hope she checked with her doctor first to make sure everything's copacetic for her body because that, above all else, is what matters most.