Photos courtesy of Carolyn Reece, postpartum doula, Sacred Pregnancy Certified Sacred Belly Bind Wrap Artist
One of the aspects of perinatal services I offer is postpartum massage. Postpartum massage uses a series of techniques to increase energy, provide support to joints and organs as they try to realign after the birth of the baby, and ease muscle discomfort. In addition to scheduling postpartum massage, there are self-care techniques you can perform at home to help your body transition and maintain strength as you heal. Postpartum binding is one self-care technique that aims to support the sacroiliac joint and help realign the pelvis (Claire Marie Miller, Nurturing the Mother, 2013).
A method included in my postpartum massage support training involves the use of a tapered fabric strip that is eight inches wide in the center, and twelve feet in length. The fabric is centered in the front of mom's pelvis, and wrapped around on either side, meeting and crossing at the sacrum (tailbone), then pulled snugly so that the ends are brought back towards the front, and tied in a supportive manner.
Other methods also provide support to the abdominal muscles as well as the pelvis, which is very important for women who experience diastasis recti, a separation of abdominal muscles, during pregnancy. Our abdominal muscles are very important in providing core support that aids in correct posture, not to mention holding in our guts. So using abdominal binding to aid in healing diastasis recti can prevent hernias (protrusion of intestines through gaps in muscle), and decrease back pain. This can be done using velcro or elastic postpartum binders. If you aren't a fan of velcro or elastic, or prefer a more breathable option, you can try a traditional Malaysian belly binding called Bengkung. This is a beautiful as well as functional option. Bengkung also uses a 7-8 inch strip of fabric, but it is 12-15 yards (36-45 feet) in length, depending on the width of mama's hips. The bind is a series of overlapping wraps held firmly in place by a twist/knot at the midline of the abdomen. It provides support from the pubis to the top of the abdomen below the breasts. This helps in realignment of the pelvis as well as holding the adbominus recti muscles close during healing in the postpartum period. Carolyn Reece, postpartum doula, and certified sacred belly wrap artist at Natural Momma offers the Bengkung Belly Binds for sale on etsy, as well as other postpartum care items.
A quick word of safety for any type of wrap or binder you choose to use: You should always be able to fit two fingers between any wrap and your skin. This isn't to say the bind should be loose, but rather that it is unhealthy for the wrap or bind to be so tight that it impairs circulation to your skin. Impaired circulation can deprive your skin or nourishment from blood supply, as well as cause sores. If you experience impaired sensation, or are having reddened indentation marks, your bind is too tight. If you have had a cesarean birth, you should consult with your physician prior to beginning binding. A Bengkung type wrap may be best performed after the incision has healed, and potentially above the level of the incision, or your surgeon may prefer you use a post-surgical binder prior to or underneath the bind until the incision has healed.
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