The concept behind belly binding is to support the muscles and skin of a woman's midsection after having a baby. I know all too well how loose everything is after giving birth, and it seems to take a very long time for everything to knit back together, and most women will tell you that your belly will never be the same after having a baby.
Here's an interesting snippet about the history of belly binding:
"For centuries, Japanese mothers have used their “Sarashi” to speed up weight loss and toning of the abdominal muscles and skin after childbirth, while Hispanic mommies believe their “faja” helps bring all the muscles used in the birthing process back together again. No matter what she calls it, women in Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Latin America, Mexico, Spain, England, and the Philippines have benefited from using an abdominal compression wrap after childbirth."
My husband who is a massage therapist says that from a muscular standpoint belly binding makes complete sense. The vertical abdominal muscles separate during pregnancy to allow the belly to expand and accommodate the growing baby, leaving a large gap after giving birth. Ideally, we want those muscles to come back together, but in many cases it takes months for that to happen. He says that belly binding would, in theory, hold those muscles in their proper place and facilitate faster healing.
Another interesting note is that we see weight lifters and construction workers wear wide support belts to support their back and core. It makes sense to me that a woman who has just given birth would need that kind of support as well.
I have found a few websites about belly binding. The Belly Bandit is one that sells belly wraps starting at about $40, but they also have some good information about the history and purpose of belly binding. EZY WRAP has post-op abdominal binders available starting at about $13. Another website discusses belly binding and says there is one made by Body Glove that can be purchased at Big 5 stores for about $5-$8, which would most likely be made of neoprene. I haven't found any available for purchase online for that low a price. I think it would be worth a call or trip to your local Big 5 store for a good support belt. I'm definitely going to look into it for my next pregnancy.
*UPDATE Dec. 4, 2008 - This post gets far more hits than the rest of my posts combined. I'm glad that people are interested in this topic, but I admit that I'm not an expert and have no experience personally with belly binding. I would love to get some feedback from my readers about their own experiences with belly binding, which binders have worked for you and what the results were. Please also feel free to make suggestions on how I can improve this post and make it more informative and helpful. Thanks!*