Belly Bound: Postpartum & Prenatal Care

You’ve celebrated the ultimate right of passage ..initiation into the rewarding sisterhood of Mammas. Giving birth is a marathon event. 9 months of miraculous growth is released with rushes of pain, expansion & euphoria. The tumultuous course is rewarded when you pass the placenta and hold the perfect reward…your baby.  Look at  where organs move & what we gain in 9 months of a healthy pregnancy. Our bodies transition from figure A to figure Mommy.

  • Baby 7 .5 lbs
  • Fat 7 lbs
  • Water 4 lbs
  • Blood 3 lbs
  • Breast 2 lbs
  • Womb 2 lbs
  • Amniotic fluid 2 lbs
  • Placenta 1.5 lbs

 As women our bodies are designed to withstand the extreme rigors of childbirth but we must take care and allow ourselves the same amount of time for recuperation. There are many things we can do to support our bodies in postpartum healing. One tried and true practice familiar to many women in the Caribbean, Africa, South America and Asia is binding the belly. Women wrap their abdomen immediately after giving birth. Customarily the mother’s abdomen is bound by her mother, sister or doula with a cotton cloth, lappa or rebozo. This wrap provides support not only to her belly but internal organs, back and hips as well. It is said that women who bind their belly do not have a permanent pouch or sagging skin and they lose weight in the midsection more quickly.

If you experienced severe abdominal separation, diastisis recti or pelvic issues you’ll probably be bound in a hospital grade abdominal support for exercises and physical therapy. I bound myself postpartum after both pregnancies. I used headwraps or a lapa folded in half. The width will vary, it should cover  inches below the breast to hips. The length will also vary you should be able to wrap it around your abdomen at least once and 3/4 times. Place one end of the fabric against your side, hold taught, wrap it around and tie, pin or tuck the ends. I tucked  and would adjust my bind…tighter when I got down to clean the tub.  I used a variety of  beautiful African fabrics and batik sometimes outside my clothes Kimono style.   

Prenatal Belly Bound– In West Africa women also bind their bellies during their pregnancy. A beautiful cloth wrapped around her blossoming belly is worn on the outside of her clothes. This offers protection for the baby from many things especially the evil eye. It also celebrates the pregnant female form. In Senegal pregnant women bind their bellies with hand-woven fabrics trimmed in gold, silver thread, embroidered with sequence and needlepoint. Postpartum this cloth is used for baby wearing. Baby is tied onto Mama’s back and the beautiful fabric is wrapped around both baby and mama. 

 Prenatal Binding is also effective if you have severe lower back pain. The belly bra does the same thing…achieve this at a fraction of the cost by simply using a lapa, long shall or wrap skirt. Wrap your abdomen bringing a gentle lift to the belly. This takes some pressure of the abdominal ligaments that tie into the lower back. Also pregnant women with young children can benefit from the additional support for the rigors of bending, reaching, lifting & playing. The additional support may also prevent diastisis recti. While pregnant with Noble, I taught yoga 6-8 times weekly up to 37 weeks. I started binding my belly around 6 months when I felt the need for support. My binds were simple a long, wide cotton scarf wrapped around the belly button level. Some days I would sling it much lower on my hip giving a nice lift similar to rebozo technique.     

Therapy bound..when you need a lift especially when the baby blues hit try an herbal body wrap technique. Call a friend to help and hold the baby while your relax with your abdomen wrapped in herbs, clay or essential oils. There are several on the market but I keep it simple using ingredients on hand. I prepare a comfrey leaf infusion and mix with bentonite clay into a thin paste…spread all over abs and  back then wrap up tight  in a  thin white cotton cloth. Relax on back for 45 minutes.While wrapped I meditate on my navel center practicing deep diaphragmatic breathing with kegels. I focus on the strength and beauty of my womb not only as a vessel for life but all of my creative energies(read Sacral Chakra Blog).  Unwrap, rinse and rub in aloe, olive oil or shea butter with drops of lavender essential oil.

How tight? You should feel supported but there should be no difficulty breathing or bruising. Do not cut off circulation. You should not have to adjust the bind when you transition from sitting to standing.

Bound for How Long? About 4 -6 weeks postpartum. Also binding for exercise or increased physical activity supports the core. Binding does not supplement strengthen the abdominal muscles. Use the bind as a reminder to engage the core muscles and proper posture. Many women bind for longer/shorter periods…listen to your body  

Contraindication: Cesarean Section. If you have had a C- section discuss binding with your healthcare provider or wait until the incision is healed. The pressure of binding can benefit the healing of the incision.

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4 comments on “Belly Bound: Postpartum & Prenatal Care

  1. This is a wonderful and much needed information page. I could have used this info many years ago ( no computer and Internet access then ) but no excuse today for women not to learn and pass on to their sisters and children. I wish you many blessings.

  2. Hi,
    This is awesome info.My questions is if wrapping my stomach after 8 months can do any good.I have a 8month old,this is my 2nd child,and i feel my stomach is not getting any better. When i look at my self i get really depressed.

    • While binding after 8 months post partum may not reduce the belly bulge it will provide back support. Postural support will remind you to maintain proper alignment of the spine and hips reducing the appearance of new mama baby belly. Standing up straight boosts your moral, is better for digestion and engages your core. Wrap up and be proud of our womanly form. We are lovely and soft in the right places to nurture and protect. The fat we retain helps produce breastmilk for our children and prepares us for future pregnancies.

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