The Benefits of Belly/Tummy Binding

 

I think it is time to make this wonderful practice part of our routine postnatal care for ALL women

Good reasons for belly binding

  • Supports the stretched abdominal muscles, fascia and skin to encourage shortening and healing. The muscles then remember their role more quickly

  • Supports the long abdominal muscles and keeps them together to help with healing any separation (diastasis)

  • Helps to support the anterior abdominal wall to assist digestion and also helps with back /spinal support

  • Promotes good posture in sitting which helps with breastfeeding.

  • Helps the uterus contract at a quicker rate.

For many hundreds of years, in some cultures, women have been wrapping their tummies following pregnancy and childbirth. These traditional practices are still used in Asia, West Africa and Latin America. The wrapping techniques commonly involve long strips of cloth wound firmly around a woman's tummy after giving birth. As a new mother's tummy shrinks, the cloth is shortened and tightened.

Traditionally, each culture has its own method of belly binding. Latin American cultures use a “Faja,” while Japanese mothers use a “Sarash” for support. Some Pacific Island women use a lavalava or sulu.

 

Unfortunately the only consistent use of binding in the Western world for hundreds of years was for women seeking teeny waistlines. They used torturous devices to get smaller proportions. It didn’t have to have anything to do with being pregnant. It just was considered feminine and attractive to have insanely tiny waistline!

Abdominal binding has also been recorded in historical art works (see ABDOMINAL BINDERS by RUHRÄH, JOHN. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, May 1934, Vol. 47 Issue: Number 5 p1116-1116, 1p; Abstract: The story of the abdominal binder, an extremely interesting one by the way, could almost be completely told by reproduction of works of art.; (AN 28609281)

Finally, in the early twentieth century, Western obstetric practice identified abdominal binding as routine part of postnatal care (see FN Goodson - Journal of the National Medical Association, 1917, Preventive medicine in Obstetrics)

But some time during the 1970’s the idea became old fashioned and was thought to make the abdominal muscles lazy. I remember my tummy being bound after my first birth in 1978 (and it felt amazing!) but not for the second or third.