One of the most common questions asked about using postpartum maternity compression garments is: how tight should it be? The one thing to remember is that the garment is meant to compress, but not to be painful. Our simple guidelines can help you find the perfect fit for your postpartum compression garment.
It Shouldn't Hurt
Using a compression garment should not cause you any pain. If you are feeling pain in your chest or your pelvis, if the garment itself is causing your skin pain, or if your abdomen hurts while you are wearing it, the garment is too tight. A well-fitting compression garment should feel like a hug: you feel the support around you, but it isn't hurting.
You Shouldn't Feel Increased Pressure
The ultimate goal of compression is to provide you with additional support — not to slim your waist or make you look smaller, so the garment should gently squeeze but not displace any of your internal organs. Think of a tube of paste—if you squeeze the middle, the paste moves to the top and bottom and increases the pressure in those areas. That is NOT what you want with a compression garment.
When a garment is too tight, most of the time the increased pressure moves down (thanks to gravity) and makes you feel a heaviness in your pelvis. This is your pelvic floor muscles getting tired from the additional load and it is also your cue to find a better fitting compression garment!
When a compression garment is a good fit, you should be able to keep breathing like you normally do, including deep breaths. Wearing compression should never make you feel lightheaded, dizzy, cause chest pains, or make you feel like you can't take a good, deep breath when you need to. If you experience any of these symptoms, you'll need to discontinue use and contact your medical provider.
Since the main goal is support, wearing a compression garment should help you be more comfortable as you move around and do your daily activities. If you feel like you can't walk, squat, or move like you usually can then your garment may be too tight. A well-fitting garment should fit just tight enough to make you feel held but not restricted. When used properly, compression will enable you to move around more, with less discomfort--not the other way around.
I hope these tips are useful and help you find the perfect fitting compression garment so that your pregnancy and postpartum are a comfortable, supported time!