Belly binding is evident in various traditions and cultures, each with its own unique process and technique. Though it has been practiced for centuries, it is only in recent years that the women of the Western world have tapped into the amazing benefits and power that belly binding can offer.
Belly binding is a beautiful, rich complement to the concept of 'the first forty days', or 'postpartum confinement'. This is where newborn parents, especially the mother, spend the first 40 days (or a chosen period of time) at home, eating a certain diet of warming foods, restricted activities and visitors, organized support, hygiene, and physical warmth practices, and you guessed it.... belly binding! There are many facets of postpartum confinement, however, I really want to speak to the healing available through bengkung belly binding today.
Throughout the centuries, women would traditionally wear this bind for 40-44 days, with strict rest and restore protocols in place. The bind was worn for 24 hours, each day.
With respect to the demands of modern society, I strongly recommend wearing the bind for at least 5 days, and 12 hours each day, to feel any of the benefits listed below. When being bound, a long piece of cotton fabric is wrapped from just below your hip bones. all the way up to your sternum. I apply a warming paste on your stomach prior, to help warm up the body after the cooling effects of labour and birth (not to mention the physical separation from your child), and a simple panel to ensure the paste does not get on your bind or clothes.
The main benefits of doing this, but are not limited to:
- 360-degree support
- Assists in abdominal wall muscle retraction
- Improves posture
- Stabilizes loosened ligaments
- Provides support for vital organs to return to their size and position
- Emotional support: I feel it is underappreciated how much of a woman’s emotions and experiences are stored in the abdomen/pelvic region **
- Supports the body’s natural spine and posture realignment
- Encourages the excess water and air in the tissues and cells to expel
- Prevents slouching while feeding
- Encourages the mother to REST, through restricted movement
** I myself am not currently a postpartum woman though decided to bind myself a day last week due to having an overly vulnerable and emotional day (I also like to continue practicing to teach my clients). This binding was such an incredible, warming, soothing support during that day. There is something so reassuring to a woman when her womb area is held and supported.
As your body continues to change over this postpartum period, you will be required to be bound each day as the binding will come loose in certain areas. Depending on where you are located, you can either bring on a certified belly binder to come to your home each morning and apply the warming paste and bind, or you can get them to teach it to you on your first day and continue binding yourself.
If you are looking at binding yourself, I would like to just make a note here of a comparison between wrapped belly binding and the commercial belly bands. Depending on which belly band we are speaking about, many only target your hips and lower abdominals, neglecting the upper half of your stomach and the support required there (for example, with breastfeeding slouch). They also may not offer an adjustment toggle, so will not be custom to the shape and size of your stomach each day as it changes. Just some things to keep in mind when choosing.
My binds are sourced from an incredible company called IBU AYURVEDA*. They have a range of preconception, pregnancy, and postpartum products also. If you would like to learn to bind yourself, see their downloadable pdf. As I do not stock extensive numbers of binds, and only order when I am sought out by a new mumma, I have organized a discount for those wanting to buy a bind from them, and get a sneaky kickback from it! Just type in INTUITIVEBIRTH in the discount area when checking out.
If you would like to get in contact with me to enquire about adding postpartum belly binding to your experience, click here
Many prepare and plan for the birth of their baby, and so you should. However many do stop there and neglect their postpartum plan. This time is vulnerable, raw, a rollercoaster and may impact the way you feel about your experience as new parents. Invest time, resources and support for your postpartum, I promise you will not regret it!
A note on Cultural Appropriation
Throughout my training, both as a doula and through BreeAnn Moore’s belly binding training, cultural appropriation is a topic thoroughly discussed and understood. I do not claim to offer the traditional Bengkung belly binding practice, as that is of sacred tradition to the Malaysian culture. I have made every effort to ensure the credit for these techniques go to the Malaysian culture and pay respect to my teacher and her mentors for allowing us the knowledge of Belly Binding to share with woman as they endeavor to support their healing.
* This site contains affiliate links to products. I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. However, this does not impact my reviews and comparisons. I try my best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.