Belly Wrapping, What Is It?
Belly Binding or wrapping is any process of using fabric to support the pelvis and abdominal area of a woman in the postpartum period. Japanese and Taiwanese women have used sarashi for generations to accomplish this. Indonesian women use long pieces of beautiful batiks, and some American women buy a girdle-type garment of stretchy but supportive material. The advantage to the sarashi or batik (woven) fabric for wrapping is that it's infinitely adjustable, beautiful, and fits most women. No worrying if it will fit your body when it arrives, or that it won't fit as well once you start losing some of the pregnancy weight. Most sarashi or batik wraps are about 13-14 yards long and 8-10 inches wide. These wraps are comfortable and can be worn under or over your clothing.
Belly Binding or wrapping has been an important part of a woman's post-partum recovery for thousands of years. If you've read some of my other blog posts, you know that I LOVE having research studies to give you to support even traditional birth practices. However....there just isn't a lot of "scientific" evidence to support the practice of post-partum abdominal wrapping. What we do have, though, is the experience of millions of women and the fact that this practice persists in many cultures where non-evidence based binding practices (foot binding, anyone?!) have not. A lot of the benefits of belly wrapping are common sense, also.
Why Try Belly Wrapping?
Belly wrapping has many benefits for the mother. For nearly 10 months, a pregnant woman's body has been expanding and changing with the growing baby, maybe even babies! Blood volume increases, fluid retention becomes greater, the body stores fat for the baby, the uterus grows and pushes the other organs around, and the abdominal muscles stretch and may even separate (this is called diastasis recti) to allow enough room for the growing baby and uterus. All of these amazing changes are necessary for pregnancy, but not so much for breastfeeding or carrying your baby on the outside! Additionally, during labor the cervix dilates fully and the pelvis may widen to allow the baby enough space to be born. The wrap can help the body to return to it's pre-pregnancy state, or as closely as possible, much more quickly and comfortably than without it. How?
Benefits of Belly Wrapping
Provides constant, steady pressure to the pelvic area and hips, which helps them to close as much as possible back to their previous width
Abdominal support helps to close the abdominal wall and heal diastatis recti
Relieves back pain by supporting the abdominals during the postpartum healing process
Supports correct posture and spinal realignment
Provides back support during breastfeeding, when many women tend to slouch (been there, done that!)
Constant pressure encourages the organs in the torso and pelvis to shrink back and return to their pre-pregnancy size
When Should You Start Belly Wrapping?
If you've had a vaginal birth, it's best to start wrapping as soon as you feel up to it. You can start on postpartum day 2, or anytime within the first week. If you've had a cesarean birth, you'll want to wait at least 4 weeks, or until your incision is completely healed.
How Long Should You Wear the Wrap?
The belly wrap is traditionally worn for 8-12 hours a day, for at least 40 days. How long you wear the wrap is up to you. Most women do not sleep in it, so you'll be taught to wrap it yourself or with a helper. It's really not complicated!
Where Can You Get a Wrap?
You have a few choices. I make them, and I can provide you with a wrap, along with several postpartum visits where I will wrap you, show you how to do it, and leave you with instructions. The value of the wrap is included in the cost of this service.
You are also welcome to make one yourself! You will need a long piece of cotton, silk, or linen, 8" or so by 13-15 yards long. You may also purchase a wrap from me separately of Indonesian batik (55$) or dupioni silk (65$). Whichever you choose, I am looking foward to feedback about this ancient and useful postpartum practice!
I look at birth from the perspective that our bodies are wonderfully made, and if we really believe that and work with the birth process and nourish our bodies properly, they will function optimally, most of the time!