When you think about belly binding after birth, what pops into your mind? Do you see a long thin cloth wrapped many times in a complex way around the abdomen? Do you imagine something complex that takes a long time to learn? Do you believe that there is a “right” way to do it, and that you don’t know how to do that, and therefore cannot help others? Do you believe that it could be damaging?
I used to believe this myself, I’ve lost count of how many times people have asked me if the type of binding described above is the “best” kind of binding. I’ve also helped many new mothers who were gifted such a long cloth and didn’t use it because they didn’t know how to, to learn that binding can be really simple.
Belly binding, or postnatal wrapping as I like to call it, is the process of using a piece of fabric, a wrap or belt, to support the abdomen, or pelvis, or both, during the postpartum. It is a worldwide practice, even though it has fallen out of fashion in the Western world.
I first learnt to wrap myself 10 years ago. As I offered it to my clients, and later started to teach it, I saw how much women, regardless of age, or whether postpartum or not, loved it. it became so present in my life that I started using it for myself at different times, such as when I was on my period, or when I was teaching, and I realised how comforting it was.
I still had a misguided belief that it would not be helpful during the postpartum because my grandmother wore a corset and it made her muscles weak. My osteopath reassured me that it was safe to use mindfully for a few weeks during the postpartum. The research I did for my book, Why Postnatal Recovery Matters, led me to discover how universal it was, including finding references to it in old British and French midwifery and medical books.
Wrapping the abdomen and hips during the postpartum is very beneficial because it provides much needed nurturing support.. Physically, wrapping provides support to unstable joints and muscles, as well as comfort and warmth. Emotionally, it brings us back to our bodies and provides a sense of being contained. Energetically and spiritually, it also helps us come back to ourselves.
I want to demystify the process and help you see that it really is simple.
Wrapping tools fall into 3 categories:
- Scarves (such as rebozos, pashminas, babywearing wraps, and other pieces of cloth)
- Velcro wraps and belts (such as belly wraps and sacroiliac belts)
- Items of clothing (such as Haramakis, support underwear and support leggings)
Some methods are super easy (you already know how to put on clothing 😉 ) and some methods (wrapping a long cloth around yourself) require a bit more practise and skills.
Wrapping is like choosing a pair of jeans, so there is no “right” tool, just a range of tools to choose from. It’s very much like choosing a baby carrier: some people prefer wraps, and some prefer more structured carriers. If you are someone who wants to help new mothers choose a method of wrapping, knowing this removes the pressure to get it right, or find the “best” method of wrapping. All you need to do is offer a range of wrapping options to choose from and let them decide what feels good. How liberating is this?
Read more, including tutorials, research and links to various wrapping tools in my blog post The Lost Art of Postnatal Wrapping.
If you would like to learn how to offer wrapping to new mothers and feel confident in using all the tools described above, checkout my new online course, The Art and Science of Postpartum Wrapping.