Rewarding birth

Hey Nikki, I wanted to send a quick note to thank you for everything I learned in your yoga classes over the past 9 months.  And whatever we did last Sunday seems to have worked!  I started feeling contractions later that day and L was born a week early on Monday.  The exercises and breathing we did gave me the tools I needed to labor naturally and keep me calm — to the extent that I was further along than the midwife and doula both thought I was, arriving at the hospital fully dilated.  The whole experience was long and hard, but a positive one and completely rewarding.  We’re taking it easy at home, but hope to see you around the neighborhood soon!-H.B.

Prenatal Yoga Sundays 1-2pm @ Golden Heart Yoga DC


Gemstones for the Childbearing Year

ImageGemstones are both beautiful and beneficial during the childbearing year. They provide adornment and support to periods of conception, gestation, birth, postpartum, breastfeeding and infancy. Gemstones appeal to our tactile and esoteric senses. We admire their brilliance, absorb their energies, and feel their vibrations. Using gemstones is easy:
*they can be worn as jewelry *placed in your pocket or purse *kept in your pillow
*placed under the mattress
*held on your alter
*hung from your rear view window
*steeped in water for bath or drinks
*held or focal point during prayer or meditiation
*placed on chakra or reflexology points for balancing

Let your intutition guide you when selecting gemstones and choose ones which resonate with you. Below are some suggestions gathered from the following site

Amber Image
Golden Brown
Solar Plexus Chakra
· Assists with mental clarity, promotes smooth functioning of intellect and wisdom and helps eliminate confusion in regards to truth.
· Protects one from psychic attacks, negative energy or taking on other’s energy. Facilitates energy balancing and cleansing.
· Offers patience, romantic love, sensuality, purification, detoxification, healing and calmness.

Orange & Red
Root and Sacral Chakra
· Heals, balances and stimulates women’s reproductive system and helps alleviate premenstrual cramps and irregular menses.
· Assists with stimulating physical energy, passion, emotions, sexuality and removes sorrows, jealousy, anger and fear.
· Stabilizes and grounds energy, improves motivation and recall to historical events and past lives.

Green (color of apples)
Heart Chakra
· Excellent healing stone that helps guard against sexually transmitted diseases, eye problems, gout, mental illness, fertility issues for both sexes and relieves fever.
· Eases heartache and loneliness, balances emotions, provides inner peace and strength, conflict resolution and provides happiness.
· Stimulates creativity, good fortune and prosperity.

Translucent and rainbow
Heart Chakra
· Enhances feminine energies including intuition, sensitivity, receptivity, and psychic abilities.
· Provides protection particularly during childbirth, pregnancy and travel at sea.
· Used to aid pituitary gland, digestive system, obesity, water retention, lymph system, menstrual problems and hormonal problems, emotional balance and grace.
· Helpful for water signs and calming overreactions to personal and emotional situations.

Pearl Image
White, Pink, Cream & Black
Crown Chakra
·Feminine in nature (containing water and moon energies) connecting the wearer to the Goddess energy and aiding in childbirth and fertility.
·Enhance personal integrity, faith, loyalty, truth, purity, charity, calming and centering.
·Used to treat stress, hypertension, headaches, exhaustion, digestive tract and muscular systems. 

Quartz, Rose
Heart Chakra
·Opens the heart chakra for emotional healing and is used to enhance all forms of love including unconditional love, self-love, family love, platonic love and romantic love.
·Assist with fertility and provides protection during pregnancy and childbirth.
·Eases traumas associated with loss, stress, hurt, fear, low self-esteem, and lack of confidence, anger, and resentment.

Heart or Throat Chakra
· Supports harmony, letting go, surrendering of pain, worry, anxiety, fear and guilt.
· Treats and heals lungs, throat, heart, premenstrual syndrome, cramps, inflammations, arthritis and spasms.
· Gently removes negativity and aids emotional healing from incest, rape, mastectomy and hysterectomy.

Agate (Crazy Lace)
Black & white
· Helps to clear emotional pain, center and focus.
· Helps children, parents and grandparents understand one another. Also encourages different generations to feel they can enjoy one another.

Various Colors- Jadeite & Nephrite
· All jade has different healing aspects including crystal healing, removing toxins from body, healing the heart and assisting kidney problems.
· Provides protection from harm, against illness especially for children and against physical attack.
· Ancient Chinese have used jade for various things including peace, harmony, emotional balance, stamina, humility, fidelity, generosity, mercy, courage, wisdom and justice.

What is prenatal yoga?

A prenatal yoga student mentioned after class” I’m in my 1st trimester and need a more vigorous practice.
My reply:  Why fight your true nature, what is more vigorous than life forming inside you at an exponential rate?
Her reply was ” I don’t want to get out if shape”
My response: You have to get out of shape, to get in Motherhood shape, allow your DNA to become unhinged and hang out in innerspace to survive this journey. Around 7 months into her pregnancy she returned to class.
She said ” I had no clue what you were talking about in our 1st class, now I want to thank you for this please don’t stop.” 
Nothing more needed to be said this yogini had made her transformation. She walked the path and submitted to her purpose. She embraced the truth of her purpose and not only accepted the changes in her life but found joy in the beauty of her new form. Her inital concerns about her body image as less than perfect were replaced by a divine perfection and awe. She began to worship her fullness and delighted in her family, friends and community response to her blossoming belly. Now the real practice of yoga began. This yogini had been attending hatha yoga classes for many years. She was limber and strong but her practice was compartmentalized. The practice of yoga began and ended on her mat. Then life flourished inside and she had to assume the responsibility of carrying 2 souls in 1 body. Before she knew it the yamas and niyamas jumped into the forefront of her consciousness. It all began to make sense and the practical application of pranayama and asana and deep relaxation and meditation and proper diet and positive thinking became diurnal and circadian. Yoga was effortless no longer something she did but something she lived. Pregnancy affords women a prosperous opportunity to grow, heal and change with the unyielding support of the universe; if we are willing to release fear, trust our bodies, our intuition, ourselves.
Prenatal Yoga
Sundays 1-2pm@Golden Heart Yoga DC 4804Georgia Ave Nw, DC

Prenatal Yoga Classes

Prenatal Yoga Classes

Time:  Saturdays  2-3pm

Place: Yoga District 526 H St NE, DC

Time: Sundays  1-2pm

Place: Golden Heart Yoga 4804 Georgia Ave Nw, DC

Join other Mothers in a gentle class which incorporates asana, breath work, movement and meditation. Ease into the changes of pregnancy. Practice relaxation techniques, while bonding with the soul growing inside you. Increase strength and flexibility in preparation for birth and beyond. Come and share birth or prenatal stories, breastfeeding & parenting information. Mamas from 0-40 weeks welcome. Doctor or Midwives approval recommended

Prenatal Yoga Testimonial

Dear Nikki,
I just wanted to check in and thank you again for the wonderful experience I had doing prenatal yoga with you.  While my birth experience was more difficult than most, I am confident that I am having a better recovery and had a better pregnancy throughout as a result of being in your class and getting regular exercise that also had a mind-body-wellness component.
I had a very tough delivery — it was induced a week earlier than expected due to a pinprick leak in the amniotic fluid and this lead to a long, long labor, then ultimately a c-section.   Since it was induced, I opted for an epidural, then tried to gut it out through the night to push my baby out and ultimately had to go to a c-section once it became clear that labor wasn’t going to progress fast enough to keep the baby’s heart rate where we all wanted it.
Because I had had an epidural for such a long time, it ended up failing in spots and I could feel a good bit of the c-section — so the bumblebee breath and the focusing exercises we did were really key in helping me get through the hardest parts of that not at all gentle experience.  I was able to keep my head about me and still be totally elated to see our son who arrived healthy and whole and joyful despite the pain involved. 
I am now 4 weeks and some days postpartum and I am doing much better than the typical c-section patient — I am also confident that I will continue yoga once cleared to work out and also that I will do yoga in the swimming pool which was an important way that I carried the experience and things you taught with me throughout the end of the pregnancy.  As a result, my baby had really good muscle tone at birth because he was able to move around due to the space that swimming gave him (weightless and inflated womb is a good thing in baby fitness terms).
I know that it is your druthers and that of most of your students to have a natural childbirth experience or at least a vaginal delivery with minimal medical intervention — however, even in a case like mine where it gets tough and you have to go to some warrior place inside to gut it out, everything you taught is relevant and ultimately a real survival skill.  If you ever need a recommendation from a former student, please feel free to call on me. 
S…. A….

ACOG Pregnancy Exercise Guidelines

Ready to begin your exercise program but concerned about what you should avoid during pregnancy or post partum?

The American Academy of  Obstetricians and Gynecologists 2003 definitive lists of do’s and dont’s are posted below.

Familiarize yourself with the warning signs and walk , squat, practice yoga for at least 30 minutes daily. 

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Regular exercise builds bones and muscles, gives you energy, and keeps you healthy. It is just as important when you are pregnant. This pamphlet will explain:

  • The benefits of being active
  • How to start a healthy exercise program
  • Exercises to avoid


Exercise during pregnancy can help prepare you for labor and childbirth. Exercising afterward can help get you back in shape.

Benefits of Exercise

You’re tired. You’re gaining weight. You may not feel your best. Although most of the time these symptoms are normal during pregnancy, exercise may help provide some relief. Becoming active and exercising at least 30 minutes on most, if not all, days of the week can benefit your health in the following ways:

  • Helps reduce backaches, constipation, bloating, and swelling
  • May help prevent or treat gestational diabetes
  • Increases your energy
  • Improves your mood
  • Improves your posture
  • Promotes muscle tone, strength, and endurance
  • Helps you sleep better


Regular activity also helps keep you fit during pregnancy and may improve your ability to cope with the pain of labor. This will make it easier for you to get back in shape after the baby is born. You should not, however, exercise to lose weight while you are pregnant.

Changes in Your Body

Pregnancy causes many changes in your body. Some of these changes will affect your ability to exercise.


The hormones produced during pregnancy cause the ligaments that support your joints to become relaxed. This makes the joints more mobile and more at risk of injury. Avoid jerky, bouncy, or high-impact motions that can increase your risk of injury.


Remember that during pregnancy you are carrying extra pounds—as much as 25–40 pounds at the end of pregnancy. The extra weight in the front of your body shifts your center of gravity and places stress on joints and muscles, especially those in the pelvis and lower back. This can make you less stable, cause back pain, and make you more likely to lose your balance and fall, especially in later pregnancy.

Heart Rate

The extra weight you are carrying will make your body work harder than before you were pregnant. Exercise increases the flow of oxygen and blood to the muscles being worked and away from other parts of your body. So, it’s important not to overdo it.

Try to exercise moderately so you don’t get tired quickly. If you are able to talk normally while exercising, your heart rate is at an acceptable level.

Getting Started

Before beginning your exercise program, talk with your doctor to make sure you do not have any obstetric or health condition that would limit your activity. Ask about any specific exercises or sports that interest you. Your doctor can offer advice about what type of exercise routine is best for you.

Women with one of the following conditions will be advised by their doctors not to exercise during pregnancy:

  • Risk factors for preterm labor
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Premature rupture of membranes

Pregnant women with certain other medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, will be advised by their doctors when and if exercise is appropriate.Choosing Safe Exercises

Most forms of exercise are safe during pregnancy. However, some types of exercise involve positions and movements that may be uncomfortable, tiring, or harmful for pregnant women. For instance, after the first trimester of pregnancy, women should not do exercises that require them to lie flat on their backs. Standing still for long periods of time also should be avoided as much as possible.

Certain sports are safe during pregnancy, even for beginners:

  • Walking is a good exercise for anyone. Brisk walking gives a total body workout and is easy on the joints and muscles. If you were not active before getting pregnant, walking is a great way to start an exercise program.
  • Swimming is great for your body because it works so many muscles. The water supports your weight so you avoid injury and muscle strain. It also helps you stay cool and helps prevent your legs from swelling.
  • Cycling provides a good aerobic workout. However, your growing belly can affect your balance and make you more prone to falls. You may want to stick with stationary or recumbent biking later in pregnancy.
  • Aerobics is a good way to keep your heart and lungs strong. There are even aerobics classes designed just for pregnant women. Low-impact and water aerobics also are good exercise.

Other exercises, if done in moderation, are safe for women who have done them for a while before pregnancy:

  • Running. If you were a runner before you became pregnant, you often can keep running during pregnancy although you may have to modify your routine. Talk to your doctor about whether running during pregnancy is safe for you.
  • Racquet sports. In some racquet sports, such as badminton, tennis, and racquetball, your changing balance may affect rapid movements. This can increase your risk of falling. You may want to avoid some racquet sports.
  • Strength training will make your muscles stronger and may help prevent some of the aches and pains common in pregnancy.

The following activities should be avoided during pregnancy:

  • Downhill snow skiing. As with racquet sports, your changing center of gravity can cause balance problems. This puts you at risk for severe injuries and falls. Even if you are skilled and careful, some hazards are beyond your control. For instance, exercising at altitudes higher than 6,000 feet can increase your risk of altitude sickness. This makes it harder for you to breathe and may cut down on your baby’s supply of oxygen.
  • Contact sports, such as ice hockey, soccer, and basketball, could result in harm to both you and your baby.
  • Scuba diving should be avoided during pregnancy. The large amounts of pressure from the water put your baby at risk for decompression sickness.

With some activities, such as gymnastics, water skiing, and horseback riding, there is an increased risk of falling, which in some cases can cause injury. These activities also should be avoided during pregnancy. With any type of exercise you’d like to try, be sure to discuss it with your doctor ahead of time. If you are an athlete, let your doctor know so you can get any special care you may need.Your Routine

Exercise during pregnancy is most practical during the first 24 weeks. During the last 3 months, it can be difficult to do many exercises that once seemed easy. This is normal.

If it has been some time since you’ve exercised, it is a good idea to start slowly. Begin with as little as 5 minutes of exercise a day and add 5 minutes each week until you can stay active for 30 minutes a day.

Always begin each exercise session with a warm-up period for 5–10 minutes. This is light activity, such as slow walking, that prepares your muscles. During the warm up, stretch your muscles to avoid stiffness and soreness. Hold each stretch for at least 10–20 seconds.

After exercising, cool down by slowly reducing your activity. This allows your heart rate to return to normal levels. Cooling down for 5–10 minutes and stretching again also helps you to avoid sore muscles.

Things to Watch

The changes your body is going through can make certain positions and activities risky for you and your baby. While exercising, try to avoid activities that call for jumping, jarring motions or quick changes in direction that may strain your joints and cause injury.

Warning Signs Stop exercising and call your doctor if you get any of these symptoms:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Dizziness or feeling faint
  • Increased shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Muscle weakness
  • Calf pain or swelling
  • Uterine contractions
  • Decreased fetal movement
  • Fluid leaking from the vagina


There are some risks from becoming overheated during pregnancy. This may cause loss of fluids and lead to dehydration and problems during pregnancy.

When you exercise, follow these general guidelines for a safe and healthy exercise program:

  • After the first trimester of pregnancy, avoid doing any exercises on your back.
  • Avoid brisk exercise in hot, humid weather or when you have a fever.
  • Wear comfortable clothing that will help you to remain cool.
  • Wear a bra that fits well and gives lots of support to help protect your breasts.
  • Drink plenty of water to help keep you from overheating and dehydrating.
  • Make sure you consume the daily extra calories you need during pregnancy.

While you exercise, pay attention to your body. Do not exercise to the point that you are exhausted. Be aware of the warning signs that you may be overdoing it (see box). If you notice any of these symptoms, stop exercising and call your doctor.After the Baby’s Born

Having a baby and taking care of a newborn is hard work. It will take a while to regain your strength after the strain of pregnancy and childbirth. Taking care of yourself physically and allowing your body time to recover is important. If you had a cesarean delivery, difficult childbirth, or complications, your recovery time may be longer. Check with your doctor before starting or resuming an exercise program. Some women may resume their routine within days of giving birth; others may need more time before resuming their prepregnancy routine.

Walking is a good way to get back into exercising. Brisk walks several times a week will prepare you for more strenuous exercise when you feel up to it. Walking has the added advantage of getting both you and the baby out of the house for exercise and fresh air. As you feel stronger, consider more vigorous exercise.

You will want to pick an exercise program that meets your own needs. Your doctor, nurse, or community center can help. There are also special postpartum exercise classes that you can join.


Exercise during pregnancy can help prepare you for labor and childbirth. Exercising afterward can help get you back in shape. Before you begin an exercise program, talk to your doctor. Follow this guide to help maintain a safe and healthy exercise program during pregnancy.


Cesarean Delivery: Delivery of a baby through an incision made in the mother’s abdomen and uterus.

Gestational Diabetes: Diabetes that arises during pregnancy; it results from the effects of hormones and usually subsides after delivery.

Premature Rupture of Membranes: A condition in which the membranes that hold the amniotic fluid rupture before labor.


This Patient Education Pamphlet was developed under the direction of the Committee on Patient Education of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Designed as an aid to patients, it sets forth current information and opinions on subjects related to women’s health. The average readability level of the series, based on the Fry formula, is grade 6–8. The Suitability Assessment of Materials (SAM) instrument rates the pamphlets as “superior.” To ensure the information is current and accurate, the pamphlets are reviewed every 18 months. The information in this pamphlet does not dictate an exclusive course of treatment or procedure to be followed and should not be construed as excluding other acceptable methods of practice. Variations taking into account the needs of the individual patient, resources, and limitations unique to the institution or type of practice may be appropriate.Copyright © June 2003 by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission from the publisher.

ISSN 1074-8601Requests for authorization to make photocopies should be directed to the Copyright Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Danvers, MA 01923.

To reorder Patient Education Pamphlets in packs of 50, please call 800-762-2264, ext 830, or order online at

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
409 12th Street, SW
PO Box 96920
Washington, DC 20090-6920


When was my last period? EDD & Postdates

While sitting in the Midwife’s office after receiving the official pregnancy test result here comes the? When was your last period? What, I don’t know. With my head bowed I reply” I’ll have to ask Arthur.” I have not marked the date of my period or counted 28 days since high school. I’m one that feels when it’s near. If my diet is not in check I get argumentative, crave sugar & salt  and have a desire to go to the beach. If  nourishment is stellar the shifts are more subtle and I still want to go to the beach.

Next comes the sonograms. We don’t want to know the sex, please. As I pretend not to see the penis on the monitor the technician takes all the necessary measurements. Your expected due date is April 22.  Wow! that is 3 weeks earlier than our calculations. Once again here comes the question, When was your last period?  Honestly I can not answer with confidence but we think it was_. “We” she replies with a smile.

April 22 no action…we didn’t expect any…trusting our prediction over modern technology. The Midwife measures my belly-” the length is consistent with the EDD of 4/22″.  My belly is huge and high and being my 2nd pregnancy I know this boy is not about to have his birthday this week.

April 30th Emergency …after planning a homebirth my Midwife has to leave the island & tend to family. Will you wait? Please don’t leave me I’m past my EDD! ” Yes I’ll wait till Sunday, you are about 1.5cm dialted baby is still high”  Art, the midwife is leaving can we have sex, I’m drinking castor oil right now….. He brings me back to our birthing plan. No unnecessary interventions; we waited patiently for 9 months why change our philosophy because of an external crisis. The castor oil gave me the runs and I was not in the mood for any sexual communication.

May 6th Birthday..Royal Aren Marshall was born vaginally, 8 lbs 12.5 oz in the hospital by a wonderful midwife, my referral. She made every accommodation no matter how far-fetched it seemed to her co-workers. I asked how does the placenta look is he post term? “No, you have a very healthy placenta I can see you exercised during pregnancy and there are no calcifications he is 40 weeks” replied the Midwife.

Well according to the EDD I was 42 weeks post term. Had we received more allopathic care.. we may have been induced possibly resulting in C-section. The EDD is not an exact science the growth of my son and measurements were not typical. Of course, my baby was in utero & still is taller and larger than average. His father’s 6′ and 220 pounds and I am 5’9… So don’t stress over the EDD it is just an estimate and actions taken based on this estimate when there is no fetal distress or maternal health issues results in a cascade of medical interventions. In Senegal, Midwives record a due month not a due date.  So prepare for labor 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after the Expected Due Date.

Evidence based research

Large studies have shown that monitoring pregnancy while waiting for spontaneous labor results in fewer cesareans without any rise in the stillbirth rate. One retrospective study of almost 1,800 post-term (past 42 weeks) pregnancies with reliable dates compared this group with a matched group delivering “on time” (between 37 and 41 weeks). The perinatal mortality was similar in both groups (0.56 /1,000 in the post-term and 0.75/1,000 in the on-time group). The rates of meconium, shoulder dystocia and cesarean were almost identical. The rates of fetal distress, instrumental delivery and low Apgar were actually lower in the postdate group than in the on-time group.(3) This is only one of several studies showing postdate pregnancies can be monitored safely until delivery or until indications arise for induction. Even the famous Canadian Multicenter Post-term Pregnancy Trial Group (Hannah) of 1,700 postdates women showed no difference in perinatal outcome among women who were monitored past their due date, as compared with those who were induced at term.(4)

Under Post Date Pressure?

Labor commences when the baby communicates with your brian via chemical message. If allowed the baby initiates action with the release of hormones received by mother’s pituitary gland. If you and baby are showing no symptoms of distress or Postmaturity Syndrome try these techniques:

  • Walk & Squat …Squat & Walk … You’ve been doing it for months…Right?
  • Talk to your baby reassuring that life is great outside, share all the wonderful things in store
  • Keep stress @ bay…spend time alone doing happy things that make you feel confident & secure
  • Stop looking @ the calendar: prepare house for baby, cook, decorate, rearrange, discard clutter
  • Start maternity leave allowing time to transition into labor
  • Make love & orgasm: semen has natural prostaglandins to soften the cervix; orgasm contracts the uterus, releases oxytocin and feels good taking you back to doing happy things
  • Nipple Stimulation: self  or partner administered, breast pump. Use of a breast pump is often done in the hospital while connected to external monitors
  • Acupressure point spleen 6
  • Herbal interventions: Castor oil, Aloe, Black & Blue cohosh, Primrose oil..Homeopathics. These are interventions and should be practiced under supervision of a health care provider 
  • acupuncture: inform care provider of intentions & appointment schedule
  • Dance & Laugh…laugh & Dance… Belly dance, movements that gyrate the hips, hip circles, Soca wind
  • Prenatal Massage
  • Proper hydration and nutrition. Muscles need water & fuel for proper function, to fight fatigue & recover
  • Do nothing continue life as usual, giving no power to worry 

The last few weeks of pregnancy are a true test of patience. One of the greatest lessons of parenthood is surrender of control. Children will push limits often exceeding our expectations to our delight and chagrin. Confronting anxiety  with patience & grace will prepare us for the paternal road ahead.

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.