The development of Belly Bands products helped Carol Brunswick heal from a terrible tragedy. In 2010 her husband was taken in an accident and she was left to bring up her two young children alone.
Carol, a computer networking engineer, dropped back to part time work after the death of her husband and in 2012, her company sent her to the US where she had a chance meeting with a woman who sold compression garments for use post surgery. Nothing like this existed in Australia at the time and she asked Carol to become an agent for Australia.
Initially Carol was reluctant, but she finally agreed to take some home for people she knew might benefit; one of them being a midwife. The word spread and people contacted her to try the support belt, which inspired her to take it further. Her children were still suffering deeply from the loss of their father and Carol saw this as a way to make an income working from home so she could be there more for them.
The problem was that the recovery belt had a number of inherent glitches. It was made of 100% cotton, which worked for the first couple of days after surgery but then the cotton stretched and lost compression. It was cumbersome to use because it had many pieces of Velcro to fasten it, and there were many difficulties involved in the fitting of 5 different sizes. But Carol soldiered on despite many product returns.
She sank all her savings into the next shipment of stock. They arrived from China and to her horror, all the sizes were wrong. The product was unsaleable. The company wouldn't replace the stock. Carol was broke and decided the only option was to give up on the business and return to her previous employment.
A call came through from a man whose wife just had a hysterectomy. This once active woman was bedridden, and the only relief she had was holding a pillow to the wound. She knew nothing about how to deal with her condition post surgery. Out of the kindness of her heart, Carol mocked up a compression belt from a new fabric she’d been exploring as an alternative, and gave it to the husband.
Weeks later the grateful woman contacted Carol crying because she was so grateful for the compression belt that restored her mobility. This was the turning point. Carol knew that if she gave up no one would ever know that there was something that could ease the pain in the initial weeks after surgery.
Carol decided to manufacture the recovery bands herself in Australia. The technology isn’t rocket science, it’s a band that circles the abdomen but she knew from her previous experience that comfort, size and durability should be improved. She made them at home and got her friends, who varied in shape and size, to test them till she achieved the comfortable, one size fits most (size 6-16) band that people are benefiting from today.
Abdominal surgery is one of the most frequently performed surgeries and medical staff don’t tell patients to bind the belly. They tell them to walk around holding a pillow to the wound, or to wrap towels and sheets around them. For Carol, it’s important that people know that there is something that can make a real difference.
This is an era where we don’t have a village to raise a child, so a woman who’s had a C-section cannot lift anything or drive for 6 weeks. The compression belt secures the area, relieves pain and facilitates healing.
Helping others with pain and discomfort helped me heal from the loss of Jim. I made a product that I know works and we get such fantastic feedback. I am passionate about creating awareness, especially among health professionals, so they can help patients,” says Carol.
Belly Bands are proud sponsors of the Birthing Kit Foundation (Australia). In Australia, the mortality rate for mothers and babies is very low. However more than 380,000, that’s more than 800 women a day in developing countries, die each year during childbirth, and from preventable disease while giving birth. The Birthing Kit Foundation (Australia) is dedicated to providing a clean, safe birthing environment for women to reduce the incidence of infant and maternal morbidity and mortality.
It’s such a tiny kit consisting of a metre square piece of black plastic for the woman to lie on, a scalpel, rubber gloves, cotton buds, string to tie the umbilical cord and a small piece of soap. For every pregnancy and C-Section 3-in-1 deluxe pack sold by Belly Bands, they purchase a birthing kit for $3.
“Every few months we gather staff, family and friends and assemble the packs to send to women in need. It’s such a simple thing, so basic, but it saves lives,” says Carol Brunswick.