With a rich history from Japan to Latin America, belly binding is one of the best kept post-pregnancy secrets, but something that women from around the world have been using for centuries.
“Mother the Mother in each of us and she will Mother us all”
Doulah and belly binding specialist, Chrissie Smith-Schuler of Beautiful Births and Beginnings, explains more about this ancient practice. “I am a mom who is passionate about the care of other mommies and their families during their pregnancy, labour and thereafter. I feel most parents prepare for the pregnancy and labour, but not for the postpartum period. I, therefore, trained to help moms (and dads) with this and also offer other related services and advice. Every mother (and father) deserves a postpartum doula to help them through those first few days, as well as during labour.
“Postpartum belly binding is often touted as the way to get a flat tummy, but the physiological and spiritual motivation should outweigh the aesthetic.”
What is belly binding?
Postpartum belly binding is often touted as the way to get a flat tummy, but the physiological and spiritual motivation should outweigh the aesthetic. Pregnancy causes your abdominal muscles to widen and stretch and if they do not heal from this separation after birth (known as Diastasis Recti), it can compromise your core strength and contribute to serious back pain. Postpartum belly binding helps keep these muscles in place and warms and strengthens them after the baby is born. Along with safe postpartum exercises that do not exacerbate Diastasis Recti, belly binding can be a tremendous help in tightening the skin – as well as having a “sealing” effect offering a sense of closure of the pregnancy and birth journey.
The history of belly binding
For centuries, Japanese mothers have used a “Sarashi” to speed up weight loss and toning of the abdominal muscles and skin after childbirth, while women in Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Latin America, Mexico, Spain, England, the Philippines and Africa have traditionally benefitted from using an abdominal compression wrap after childbirth. It has recently become more and more popular in Western societies.
How it works
Massage therapists will tell you that belly binding makes complete sense; the vertical abdominal muscles that separated during pregnancy to allow the belly to expand and accommodate the growing baby ideally need to come back together. Belly binding facilitates faster healing of these muscles. Today, many women who undergo C-section prefer belly wraps since they cannot exercise for the first three months and the post-pregnancy wrap supports the posture after surgery. Belly binding can be done from about a week to 10 days after your C section, provided there were no complications. If you have a vaginal birth, the belly bind can be done straight away.
Overall, it is believed that properly fitted post-birth belly wraps work by providing gentle compression on the abs that helps the uterus to return to its normal size quicker. This means you enjoy a flatter, firmer stomach sooner after the birth.
15 benefits of belly wrapping
- Provides abdominal and lower back support.
- Offers added support after Caesarean surgery.
- Accelerates healing from abdominal separation and assists in abdominal wall retraction.
- Minimises water retention and tummy bloating.
- Promotes good posture.
- Protects and assists swollen internal organs to return to their pre-pregnant shape.
- Improves circulation and breaks down fat and cellulite; accelerates fat burning.
- Supports the pelvic floor and stabilises loosened ligaments.
- Relief of muscular and tendon tension throughout the torso region.
- Feels great – like a big hug!
Watch a tutorial on belly binding here.
Note: Belly binding is NOT to be confused with the popular belly wraps sold these days. Belly binding is not only about making your waistline appear temporarily smaller – it is for also for therapeutic healing.