What is Postpartum Belly Binding?
Belly wrapping or binding is a popular practice used by many cultures around the world. Bengkung is the Malaysian style of belly binding and is used to wrap a postpartum woman’s abdomen for physical support and to aid in recovery.
This technique uses a single strip of cloth that is carefully wrapped and repeatedly tied around the abdomen from the hips up to the ribcage.
Belly Binding is an ancient traditional natural way of healing after birth.
Benefits of Postpartum Belly Binding:
Belly binding is a powerful aid in helping mothers to recover.
Most frequent questions and answers
Traditionally, the Malaysian belly bind is done for the entire postpartum “confinement” period, which is 30-40 days in the cultures that observe this practice. This is unpractical for modern day living – we’ve found the best belly binding length to be 6-24 hours for 5 – 10 days.
Its length and the custom fit. A Malaysian Belly Bind is a long wrap that covers from under the chest all the way down to below the hips. This way, it doesn’t just work on the waist, but also helps the ribcage and the hips go back to their former dimensions. It also stays put when you move, and so it doesn’t press on the abdomen. Girdles that only bind the abdomen also push down on the pelvic floor muscles and organs, potentially causing or worsening pelvic, uterine, or bladder prolapse. The custom fit cannot be found anywhere else, and this improves the results you will see.
Imagine the difference between buying pants that claim to fit everyone, regardless of size or shape and getting custom-fitted by a professional. What would be more comfortable? The custom fit is, of course, going to give you the best results. Likewise the traditional belly bind is a custom fit every time. It’s made of soft materials instead of having boning or Velcro like most girdles, especially if you’ve had a cesarean. The Malaysian belly bind is the best option for your time and money if you want the results mentioned above.
It’s so hard to say with individual experiences. When done incorrectly (usually when a girdle or corset-type bind is used) belly binding can put downward pressure on the pelvic floor, making already existing weaknesses more prevalent. If a woman does not rest while wearing the binding, but instead is standing, walking, running errands, cleaning, etc. Then that also contributes to weakening the pelvic floor but it is more likely caused by her lack of rest than by the bind itself. Another factor is if they wear it too long without adding in appropriate exercises to strengthen their core and pelvic floor. All of my clients receive an info – gentle appropriate exercises for the first 6 weeks postpartum to start healing pelvic floor.
There’s something to be said for prenatal preparation, too. If you don’t take care of your pelvic floor before delivery, it will be weak. Belly binding may emphasize that weakness, but does not cause it.
Forceps or vacuum delivery, along with episiotomy can contribute to weakening the pelvic floor. Some women aren’t good candidates for belly binding if they feel excessive pressure or fullness in their vagina after giving birth, have a known uterine, bladder, or rectal prolapse, experience severe incontinence issues, or have had recent surgery. We give discounts to clients who see a pelvic floor therapist and/or take a pelvic floor strengthening class to encourage more women to take charge of their pelvic floor health.
I recommend having the belly bind wrapped beneath all of your clothes for the best fit and most comfort and convenience. The most effective belly bind stretches from just below your bust to about mid-hip, near your pelvic bone. For modesty’s sake (and because of heavy postpartum flow) you’ll want to wear whatever underwear (mesh, etc.) while binding. It is still easy enough to pull your underwear out from under the bind the first time you use the bathroom and when you’re finished, simply pull them up over the bind or tuck them back underneath.
The belly bind moves because you move! Realize, the cultures that do this also practice confinement, which is a period after birth where the woman remains in bed the majority of the time. If you are up and moving postpartum, the belly bind is going to shift, bunch, and roll. The only way to prevent this is to move less. Part of what belly binding does is encourage you to rest.
The answer is no. You can still receive benefits belly binding after 8 weeks postpartum.
During pregnancy the hormone Relaxin works to loosen up all our joints in preparation for birth. Unfortunately this can also result in greater discomfort during pregnancy when the pubic bone begins to separate. Sitting, laying down, and normal day-to-day movements sometimes become painful or even impossible. The bind can be tied short, giving support to your growing belly as well as your hips and pelvic/pubic bones. It is easier, however, to simply use a scarf or rebozo to wrap the hips, rather than have someone come bind you every day. (Please note: misuse of the belly bind during pregnancy without support from a professional can lead to restricted fetal growth and worsened pain, and is NOT advised).
You can still receive belly binding if you have a c-section. We will wait until 4 – 6 weeks postpartum, based on your healing and recovery. The belly bind still has many benefits within the first two months.
You can still receive belly binding if either of these situations occurs, and in fact, the belly bind will speed your emotional as well as physical healing. Contact us for special bereavement pricing.
We organize mini classes to mamas and a friend and/or family member of their choice who can learn to do the bind. Usually a woman will want this if she intends to bind for longer than 5 or 10 days.
If you desire to offer this as a birth service or would like to hold a larger class, please contact me for class information and pricing.