Life is about moving, growing, and changing. Its about learning and adding new skills. Its about finding a better way to love and live. Every day we have a chance to change something, to be better, to broaden our horizons. In the last few weeks, I have been learning lots of new things. I took a class on postpartum belly binding. I love this idea, and want to share it with all the women I know.
I learned the Bengkung technique from a friend Bree Moore at Positive Birth Learning. She is a doula in my area who teaches classes on belly binding, and I loved her class. Her lessons taught me how and why to do belly binding, and I wanted to share that with everyone. I think every woman who's had a baby should invest in this service. No, this is not my scheme to get rich, I think the benefits greatly outweigh price tag.
Bengkung belly binding comes from Malaysia. It has been used for generations, to help mom heal after birth. The basic idea is that a long piece of cotton fabric is wrapped around mother's midsection and tied in the front for stability, from her pubic bone all the way up to her sternum. Because Relaxin, a pregnancy hormone that allows the pelvis to open for birth, is still present in the body for weeks after birth, our bodies are malleable and often feel squishy. Binding with cotton, or other non-stretchy fabrics, gives our changing bodies the support they need to return to the shape they should be.
There are many benefits to binding, but I think my favorite is that it makes us rest. Women in Malaysia stay in bed for the majority of their first six weeks postpartum. This is not really possible in American Culture. We are expected to have our pre-pregnancy bodies back when we return to work six weeks after baby. Everyone asks how our maternity leave "vacation" was. It's really laughable. Belly binding counteracts this. It is impossible to keep a belly bind in place and comfortable when constantly up and moving. To keep it in place, one must lay in bed, nursing, and resting. I try to do my belly binds just before bed, to allow maximum wear. Mom can rest all night, with it on, helping her body heal as she sleeps. I suggest that all women bind for at least 5 days postpartum, longer if possible. Asking for help from friends or family, or hiring a postpartum doula, if possible, allow mom to stay in bed with baby, resting from the huge ordeal that is pregnancy, birth, and learning how to care for baby.
There are many physical benefits to Belly binding. It helps stomach muscles re-knit together, reducing diastasis recti. It brings hip bones back where they should be, for proper alignment, and supports proper breastfeeding. It does this by keeping mom's torso straight. Many breastfeeding moms, myself included,slouch over, bringing their breast to baby, instead of baby to breast, despite the warnings of all lactation consultants and nurses. This causes stress and pain in the upper back. When properly wrapped, and propped at an angle in bed, as opposed to sitting up straight in your new fancy glider, you can bring baby to your breast, and allow his body to rest on yours, causing less stress to your poor shoulders. I'm not saying you can't nurse sitting up, binding will help if you do, but allowing gravity to work with you and not against you makes it a lot easier.
I really think every woman should have the individual support that bengkung belly binding offers. Yes there are many girdles that say they do all these things. But none with give you the tailored fit a personalized belly bind will. None offer the breathablity of cotton. None support all the way up to your chest, comfortably. None have generations of use and tradition.
Let me help you help your body heal with a postpartum bind. I can bind you, and teach you how to bind yourself, so you can continue as long as you want.