“The womb is the centre to a woman’s wellness.”
In western culture, this fact is often overlooked after birth.
One of the oldest traditions to support postnatal recovery is the process of binding the tummy post-baby. This is a long-held tradition in many cultures. The Japanese call their girdle wrap a ‘Sarashi,’ Hispanics call their binder a ‘Faja,’ the Malays call it a Bengkung and in Mexican culture, they call it a rebozo. Actually Suzie has heard midwives say it used to be done in Aussie hospitals too before mumma's went home, but that went by the way-side when visits to Physios became the norm.
Diastasis Recti (DR) is not a tear in the muscle, but a distancing of the core muscles from the linea alba (centre line). Your linea alba connects to your pelvis and ribcage, which is why it’s important to bind correctly, ie from just below the hip joints to just underneath the breasts at the top of the rib cage.
Ideally, your hubby or doula or a family member will assist in binding you daily. This process is taught to your support person at your initial belly binding consultation where I demonstrate how to do it and then let the partner do it so he/she feels competent. This one does not need tightening during the day/night. It doesn't budge.
HOW LONG DO I DO BELLY BINDING FOR?
Overall - Five to seven days is the initial binding period and then measurements can be taken to see how much the gap has reduced. Around 1 finger width is considered normal distance, so binding can extend to a total of ten or 15 days if necessary. In fact, in Malaysia the tradition is to bind for 44 days. Note, it may take 15 days or longer to heal a DR from a previous birth.
In one session – It is optimal to wear the bind for 6-8 hours a day. Or some women prefer to sleep in it overnight to free up movement during the day.
HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO WAIT?
Most women get the binding in conjunction with a massage. Massage is generally optimal in the first weeks post natural birth. In fact, there’s no real ‘wait time’. Generally the wait time is three to four weeks post caesarean birth, although if there is no pain or infection from incision but this can be earlier as we have the Postnatal Support Cushioning to allow you to lie face-down without pressure on your breasts or tummy. BLISS!
Belly Binding is generally in addition to your postnatal massage within the same time-frames, but sometimes I suggest even if you have a massage earlier, you should wait until you have breastfeeding established before you do Belly Binding.
There is a window of opportunity for belly binding within the first several months which is basically the timeframe when your body’s elastin returns to collagen. However, undertaking belly binding within the first few months after birth is likely to see better results than several months down the track when your elastin has almost fully reverted to collagen. Remember, elastin is pliable like elastic, and collagen is hard like cement.
So, in non-western cultures, there’s something bigger going on than vanity and reducing the size of your waist when it comes to Belly Binding. Not only does binding the tummy within the first few weeks or months post birth help reduce Diastasis Recti (DR), belly binding also has other multiple other benefits –
Helps postural awareness which can become lax whilst breastfeeding. The bind acts like a brace around the tummy whilst still allowing you to breath inside this container. This container like effect also stops your energy from seeping; it is comforting and makes you feel ‘safe’.
Encourages uterus recovery by supporting it to rise back up to its former pre-pregnancy condition and position. Following childbirth, the womb takes about six weeks to return back to its usual size. Remember, the uterus increases 500 times in volume and five times in size during pregnancy. Even without a baby inside it is 15 times heavier! Strong downward pressure on the lower abdomen can cause the womb to prolapse. Wearing belly binding correctly can prevent uterine prolapse. Wearing it incorrectly, ie starting at the tummy rather than the hips, can cause prolapse of the uterus.
The pelvic floor which loosens during pregnancy and birth can be unstable for up to five months postnatally. Wearing belly binding correctly can support pelvic floor restoration.
Helps the waist to return to its former shape. It can’t reduce the size of your waist any smaller than it was pre-pregnancy, but it can help it return to its former width.
The supportive nature of belly binding helps reduce postural pain, particularly Sacroiliac joint (SIJ) pain and Pubic Symphysis Dysfunction (PSD) because the pelvis and hip stability allows the ligaments to heal with support. Ligaments are relaxed by the hormone relaxin during pregnancy. And this hormone is still produced whilst breastfeeding, which means it’s actually a great time to ‘correct’ postural issues. Once the relaxin hormone is no longer evident, the body returns to collagen, setting like cement. So returning to your former shape is harder to do the longer you leave it. But if you had Dr from a previous pregnancy, you can correct it in a subsequent pregnancy as relaxin again is produced.