Belly binding has been around for hundred’s of years if not more, all around the world and across many cultures including: Latin American, Malaysian, Japanese, Native American and many more. Each culture has specific practices regarding “belly binding” and postpartum care in general. My first experiences with belly binding in the postpartum period was when I had the honor of working with Mexican moms at a birth center in the border town of San Diego. They taught me how to gently wrap the abdomen and pelvic area with a faja, to protect the womb.
The faja is believed to prevent air from entering inside the woman, to ensure the uterus from falling down and thought to help the uterus close and contract. There are many types and styles of material used to make a faja or belly wrap but I would say most common these days are cloth and mixed material i.e.; cotton and elastic. The ones that I was introduced to and have had great success with are much like a large ace bandage made of a mixture of cotton and elastic.
The faja is typically worn for at least 2 weeks except at night.
In Latin American cultures, the position of the uterus is at the very core of traditional birth medicine. It was common and still is found that abdominal massage after the birth and wrapping are used not just to heal the muscle wall, but to actually help place the “womb” back in its proper position.
Traditionally, Malaysians believe that the womb is the center of a woman’s well being and that it is important to honor its role in all stages of life. However, the womb is especially honored after the birth of a child. In order to promote the health and healing of the womb in the postpartum period, Malaysian women are bound with cotton around their abdomen. We know this as Bengkung Belly Binding.
As a Midwife I have had first hand experience with the benefits of belly binding postpartum, in the immediate and beyond to protect the womb and abdominal area. Belly binding with a bandage is a gentler way of binding the new mother which I prefer during the first weeks after birth. The bandage style is ideal for all mothers as it is breathable and has enough elasticity to stretch and bind the belly tight enough for desired benefits. It is also a good option for mothers who have delivered by cesarean birth as they have enough elasticity to stretch and bind the belly just tight or loose enough. They are gentle enough to protect the incision area and are thin enough to provide enough ventilation to protect from infection. Many moms who have given birth report that their belly feels squishy after several months of a taught firm belly and it feels a “little weird”. Something that I hear almost every time I bind a mom is that it feels so “secure” and like it is holding everything together because it is firm.
So… using a faja aka belly binding has many benefits, here are a few:
Uterus returning to pre-pregnancy size sooner
Postpartum hemorrhage prevention
Relief from birth ‘afterpains’, which typically become stronger with each child
Reduces postpartum internal organ swelling
Encourages internal organs to migrate to their original place
Provides posture support during breastfeeding
Corrects diastasis recti (separation of abdominal muscles)
Gives the mother a sense of security and ” togetherness”