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!
11/8/2014 08:55:22 am
Hi Sarah-I love your post and I would love to know if you have these for sale or a video tutorial on the subject. It is a lost art thank you for bringing it into focus!
12/6/2014 03:36:44 pm
Hello, I am ver interested in making one of the Bengkung Belly Binding wraps. How do you finish the edges? A serger?
12/6/2014 03:46:13 pm
Yes I use a Serger :)
12/12/2014 11:57:56 am
I had been wanting to learn more about belly binding. Thanks for the info
12/22/2014 06:31:41 am
Would a muslin fabric work for making your own? And have you heard of the warming massage of herbs that go on under the wrap? I have heard it mentioned on other sites but I would love a recipe/more info on making my own warming herb paste!
3/26/2015 11:08:39 am
Thanks for the info looking forward to trying it.
5/22/2015 12:59:28 am
I'm 6 months post partum via c section. I was curious if this might still work for me. I've had extreme back pain since delivery, my baby weighed in at 10lbs 7oz. and it was extremely hard on my body.
5/29/2015 02:11:14 am
Hi Chelsea! I can't speak specifically to how belly wrapping might help in your specific circumstance, but it certainly wouldn't hurt to try it. I know that some other doulas offer bengkung wrapping for post-abdominal surgery recovery, not just cesarean births. However specific exercises to strengthen the abdominal muscles (particularly the large muscle in the center) may also be helpful for you. I just read this article and you might also find it interesting.http://mutusystem.com/you-can-have-a-flat-tummy-and-a-small-diastasis-recti-i-have.html
6/5/2015 03:25:11 pm
hello, I'm 37 weeks pregnant with my last baby, and I am very interested in getting one, I just don't know the difference between the two you've mention. Thank you for your time.
6/5/2015 04:17:57 pm
Hi Mallory :) batik is made from long, combed cotton fibers, and it's the most popular fabric. I haven't been making the silk ones, mainly because of lack of demand. You can purchase a batik wrap on my site or email me with a specific color that you would like, and I can find a fabric just for you.
7/13/2015 07:49:57 am
Do you use regular quilting batik for your bengkung wrap?
2/24/2016 11:58:51 am
HI, I'm 29 weeks pregnant and have been experiencing a lot of round ligament pain. I'm looking for something that I can wrap for both prenatal and post natal. Will the Bengkung wrap work for both? Thanks for your post very informative
Sara- Beyond Birth Support
2/24/2016 12:21:34 pm
Hi Joanna :) The bengkung wrap can be used prenatally and postpartum. I have a post where I used it in the Japanese style for pelvic discomfort for a friend (prenatally), but I know some others have also tried it in the bengkung style also prenatally. The difference is that you end up wrapping the knots so that they lift up and end around the belly button or lower for prenatal wrapping.
4/16/2016 11:49:25 pm
So is this one continuous piece of fabric, no seams on the length of it? wondering because i was thinking if it had seams tying tight would put pressure on those, or they would dig in?
Beyond Birth Support
4/17/2016 12:11:14 am
Hi Andrea :) they can be one continuous piece of fabric, or there can be one or two seams. I have never minded a seam; the fabric is thin but strong and I've never had one dig in or break. But some women prefer one long peice. It's sometimes hard to find yardage for one fabric over 15 yards in Indonesian batons, which Ihave prefer.
4/17/2016 03:44:56 pm
Is this belly wrapping still effective after 13months post parfum?
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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!