Bengkung Belly Binding
"Belly Binding after birth is a practice used around the world in older traditions, with good reason. It offers such stability and comfort, like being hugged at a time when there is so much empty space inside."
-Ysha Oakes Ayurvedic Practitioner and Postpartum Doula
The traditional practice of wrapping the belly post-childbirth is an ancient art that was implemented in Asia, Europe, and Latin America. The wrapping techniques commonly involved very long strips of cloth wound firmly around a woman’s midsection after giving birth to her child. As a new mother’s abdomen contracted down, the cloth was shortened and tightened. Japanese women call their belly wrap a ‘sarashi,’ Hispanic women call their wrap a ‘faja,’ and Malaysian women call it a bengkung. The binding method that is gaining popularity in the US is referred to Bengkung Belly Binding, adopted from Malaysian cultural practices. To fully appreciate the process, one must learn the history.
For centuries, Asian mothers have used their “Sarashi” to speed up weight loss and aid in the toning of the abdominal muscles and loose skin after childbirth. Hispanic mothers believe their “faja” helps bring all the muscles used in the birthing process back together again. As a general rule, women practiced abdominal wrapping to reduce swelling and to tighten overstretched muscles. The results of belly binding were very apparent and continued on for centuries, however, this Eastern practice has only been fully discovered and implemented in the western world in more recent years. While lacking scientific studies of the benefits of binding, the words of thousands of mothers support and encourage this ancient ritual, coming from generations of authentic wisdom.
In Japan, it was and is very important for women to have a period of time for “ansei”, or peace and quiet with pampering. Historically, Japanese women would have spent 100 days inside with their babies. During these 100 days, the women would have been wrapped in blankets with their babies and would have been expected to do little beyond eating and nursing their children. While it’s no longer common for women to spend that long in bed with their newborns, many of the postpartum pampering practices are still done in many areas. Belly binding is one such practice. Of the cultures discussed, the traditional Japanese method of belly binding “sarashi” is most closely related to that of the Malaysian bengkung binding. However, the sarashi postpartum wrapping method is used by folding the material rather than twisting the material like the bengkung binding. Thes arashi is shorter than the bengkung and is about 13 feet in length and between 8-9 inches in width. It starts very low on the hips and traditionally would end between the belly button and the bust line. As a new mothers abdomen contracted the cloth would be shortened and tightened.
In the Malaysian tradition, new moms have their tummies bound for 44 days post-natal. For Malaysian moms, the womb is the center to a woman’s wellness and they believe it’s essential to take care of it at all stages of life, but especially after birth. The tradition originated generations ago at the palaces, with princesses using it to help them ‘bounce back’ and quickly spread across the land. It’s still actively practiced in the countryside and is currently enjoying a resurgence with urban dwellers alike.
The faja (Spanish for girdle) is believed to prevent air from entering 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 the most common are cloth and mixed material i.e.; cotton and elastic. The faja is typically worn for at least 2 weeks during the days.
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.
Regardless origin, all the binding methods had one thing in common. They were used to promote healing and the health of a mother’s body.
Reported Benefits of Bengkung Belly Binding
As a new generation of women are discovering other cultures' ancient traditions for better birthing experiences, they are also discovering better ways to heal their bodies after birth. Binding the stomach offers support, stability and comfort to the muscles, skin and internal organs. Wearing the bind promotes healing and repair to the postpartum body. During pregnancy, the vertical abdominal muscles widen and thin to accommodate growing babies, which can result in diastasis recti. Diastasic recti is when the muscles separate, creating back issues, hernias and bulging of the abdomen. Binding is an excellent way to bring the muscle walls back together. In doing so, supports spine and posture realignment.
Binding is considered very emotionally healing for postpartum mothers. Pregnancy opens and fills up the body with life and binding is considered a ceremony of “sealing” the body in which pregnancy ends and the woman now transitions into motherhood. During pregnancy a woman’s body retains water, fat, and air which cause her body to swell and expand, including the organs in the womb area such as the cervix and vagina. The water retained by cells supports the amniotic fluid and the purpose of the air is to cushion the baby, the mother’s internal organs, and bones as her center of gravity shifts and her baby growos bigger and bigger. This is why a pregnant woman gets so swollen during the last months of pregnancy. When a baby is born, the excess water, fat, and air are no longer needed and the cells will naturally release and shrink back to their pre-pregnancy size. However, the purpose of a post-pregnancy wrap is to speed up this process with constant pressure on the abdomen and torso area.
Belly bindings are traditionally worn for 40 days and binding can start as soon as 3-4 days after a vaginal delivery and 6 weeks after a cesarean. Using at least 12 yards of fabric, the bind wraps from the mother’s hips to the rib cage. There’s no slipping, stretching, or uncomfortable pressure on the abdomen. The fluidity in the fabric allows it to form to the needs of your body for comfort and mobility.
So, what are the benefits of binding?
It helps to slim the ribcage, belly and hips.
Pulls in the separated abdominal muscles (diastasis recti) back together.
It’s an ancient traditional natural way of healing after birth.
Helping the body regain its pre-pregnancy shape: Due to water + air retention, pelvic expansion, and larger organs (such as the uterus returning to its original size), belly binding supports the body in returning to its previous state.
Pelvic + Back support: supports good posture in walking, sitting, and even the dreaded “nursing slouch”.
Prevents excessive postpartum bleeding while keeping the uterus in a contracted position.
Gives support to the womb after birth
Speeds up the healing process of the uterus and provides a cleansing of blood clots
Helps to reduce common back and shoulder pain associated with nursing by improving posture
Helps to tone up your abdominal muscles and shape your hips after childbirth
Relieves muscular and tendon tension throughout the torso
Accelerates fat burning
Excellent support after surgical births (wait 1-2 weeks to allow proper oxygen to the wound for healing)
Provides comfort for anxiety and PPD
Services We Offer
We are excited to share with you, this beautiful way to honor and support your body and belly, postpartum. Bengkung Belly Binding is an excellent way to focus on and nourish yourself during your precious "baby moon." There are a few options for you to choose from, to benefit from our binding. Regardless the package you select, we will teach you how to use the belly bind so you are able to confidently and safely wrap yourself daily.
Wrapping the belly is an effective and important part of a new mother's recovery. The belly bind helps to supports the abdominal muscles, improves posture, and supports the torso while helping vital organs return to their pre-pregnancy size and position. In doing so, the bind also supports the back by providing you with stability and correct posture.
Our binds should be worn for at least 40 days and for around 8 to 10 hours per day for best results. After a vaginal delivery, we can begin binding as soon as the next day. After a cesarean delivery, it is best to wait until your doctor gives you the go ahead and your incision scar is healed. Typically, this is around weeks 4 - 6 postpartum.*
*Results will vary as we cannot guarantee outcomes. The bind will work differently for each person and is extremely dependent on duration of wear and length of time worn. There will be no refunds for services provided.
Belly Binding classes are offered throughout the year at various locations in the Statesville, NC area. Times will be posted as they are scheduled. You can email us or follow us on Facebook and Instagram, as well, to find class dates and times. Classes are typically 1 hour long.
IN HOME SERVICES
In home belly binding services allow you to learn the method of binding in the comfort and privacy of your own home. We have a few different packages for you to choose from. If you live outside of the service area, please contact us for additional travel fees.
All packages include an unbleached cotton muslin bind or a hand dyed bind for an additional cost. All visits are between 1 to 2 hours long.
Here, Bengkung belly binds are for sale. They are all hand made and made to order. With this option, I am available for support via email to answer any and all questions you have regarding binding.
*If you are interested in a hand dyed Bengkung, please email us the color scheme you would like.
**There is a $20 discount if you purchase a class or package as an add on service to placenta encapsulation or doula services.