Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Bengkung Belly Binding & my postpartum belly journey

If you don't like pictures of real postpartum bellies, please move along. This post is going to be honest, real, and vulnerable. Some women may have awesome genetics and look the same within two weeks of giving birth as they did before they ever had babies, but I am not one of those women. I do not have those genes. My stomach looks like baggy elephant skin. 😜 My stretch marks faded and turned into wrinkles. And it was totally worth it. I got two superheroes and a princess out of it!

I also have diastasis recti, which is separation of the abdominal muscles from the stretching of the connective tissue. DR happens to many, but is particularly common in women after having babies, and means our abs bulge out a bit more because of that extra distance in the connective tissue. I recently bought a book on it, Diastasis Recti by Katy Bowman, that I'm hoping will help me to heal that gap this year. She approaches it differently than I've ever read about DR before. Rather than only giving exercises to try to bring the muscles back together, she talks about the forces in the body from how we move and use our muscles that led to that stretching in the first place. Then you change how you move to remove those problematic forces as well as doing the corrective exercises to heal and correct DR. Sweet! It's really good so far and I've definitely been more aware of my own movements and alignment.

Anyway! With this being my third baby and really wanting to reduce that abdominal separation, I wanted to try Bengkung Belly Binding this time after the birth.


my last bump pic before baby

First pictures with the binding & without
 First, it's amazing how quickly our bodies change in the first days postpartum!

Now, Bengkung Belly Binding is the practice of using a really long thin cloth to wrap yourself from hips to ribs usually for the first 30 to 40 days postpartum. From what I searched online, any amount of binding helps from half an hour a day to 24/7. Although why anyone would do all of the work of wrapping themselves to just take it off after half an hour, I have no idea! I'd aim for a few hours a day at least.

The first week especially the support of the binding was wonderful! Whenever I was without the binding and spent time on my feet, my belly hurt. There was soreness and achiness in the muscles. With the support of the binding that pain went away! Though I was trying to stay off of my feet as much as possible to rest and heal, that little added benefit was so helpful.

There was a definite learning curve in learning how to do it. It took practice to figure out how to space it so the fabric was fairly evenly spaced from bottom to top. I also had to learn how to get the right amount of tightness so that it wasn't uncomfortably constricting but not too loose either. After the first few days, I had it figured out pretty well.

The first week, I basically wore the binding 24/7 and I felt it made a big difference in my recovery. The support helped my insides, ribs and hips to move back into place quicker. It also helped remind me to stay off my feet and keep resting, because the binding starts to move and bunch the more active you are.

The remaining weeks, I only wore it during the day and there were a handful of days that I skipped putting it on. But I tried to be consistent and wear it as much as possible for as long as possible because you get the greatest benefit from it while newly postpartum. If we have any more babies, I will do belly binding again for sure.

OK, REAL TALK. Below are pictures of my bare postpartum tummy at two months postpartum. My loose, wrinkly postpartum tummy. YOU ARE WARNED. 😁

Again, this is real life. No unicorns. No magical unicorn poop cream to smooth away all the imperfections. No perfect postpartum tummies. 

And seriously, completely worth it. (See kid pictures above if you need a reminder.)

I'm a frickin mama tiger and I earned these stripes.

I share these in the hopes that other postpartum mamas can realize their postpartum tummy is normal and beautiful. It took us nine months to grow our babies. Let's give our bodies time to recover and reach their new normal after each baby. Let's love and appreciate our AMAZING bodies that both grew and birthed TINY HUMAN BEINGS into the world! I mean, seriously, that's like a flippin super power. Both magical and miraculous, so give your body some love and grace. I'll be over here trying my best to practice that myself. 😘

Tummy alongside sweet baby girl. #princessperfection #worthit

 For anyone wanting to learn, these are the videos I watched to learn how to do Bengkung Belly Binding:

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

21 Day Fast & Focus

Over the weekend, I ended up live streaming the Prophetic Destiny conference out of HRock Church and they gave a challenge for a 21 day "Fast & Focus" in the middle of it. At the beginning of the year, it sounded like a good idea to fast and focus to hear what God wants to do for this year and to determine my focus. It also felt like a good reset, maybe an opportunity to implement some new habits while I'm setting aside this time.

Now, today is 1/17/17. The number one means new beginnings and the number 17, I just learned over the weekend, means VICTORY. I wrote at the end of December how I felt that my word for 2017 was victory. I freaked out when I learned the number 17 biblically represents victory! Say what?! Awesome! So back to today... 1. 17. 17. New beginnings for double portion victory? Yes! On the day I am starting this fast, I receive that! That gives me expectation for God to do some amazing things during these 21 days and this year.

And just for some accountability, this is what I've chosen.

  • No computer/phone games
  • No social media other than posting on A Praying Mama's Heart & Messenger
  • No candy, cookies, or ice cream 
  • Praying Numbers 6:24-26 over each family member daily
  • Contemplating strategy for this year & recalibration of relationships
  • Developing our routine
  • More time playing with my boys
  • Investing my time: read, learn, write, dance & sing
  • Reviewing & acting on my notes from the conference
The "no candy, cookies or ice cream" is my lame attempt to eat slightly healthier during this fast. I'm nursing, so I felt like fasting a meal wouldn't be a good idea, but I still felt like I needed to fast from something food-wise and I wasn't bold enough to go for "no sugar." ;)

Anyone care to join me? You can fast however God leads you, whether it's a Daniel fast, juice only fast, skip one meal a day fast, fasting specific foods, fasting from entertainment or social media, etc. Pray on what to focus on as well. Let me know if you're joining me! Comment here, message me in Messenger, email, or text/call so we can encourage one another!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Tree of Life Breastfeeding Pics (How To)

I'm a few weeks behind on this beautiful trend, but I had so much fun playing in the PicsArt app and I wanted to share my own #TreeofLife creations.

If you haven't heard how to create your own, 

1. Download the PicsArt App

2. Get the Tree of Life sticker pack and/or do a Google image search for tree images

3. Open up your breastfeeding pic to edit it

4. Sticker: Select your favorite tree sticker, then size and position it 

4. Google image: Scroll through the bottom selections and select "Add Photo"
a. Add the tree pic you want, then size and position it
b. Out of the new list of options on the bottom, select "Blend"
c. Scroll through the options to see what works with your selected picture and apply (I had the best luck with the "Overlay" and "Multiply" options)
5. Select the "Magic" button and apply your favorite effect/filter.

6. Play with the other options to add additional elements or play with the look of your pic!

Different filters looked better on different pictures.

I played with lens flares, stamps, stickers, and the hue of the pictures, too. There are so many options to explore in the app to create your own unique pic.

I also experimented with how different trees looked with the different magic effects. These two trees were my favorites. So pretty!

I love, love, love how these pictures look. They're magical and beautiful like works of art. I love the symbolism, based on our real life anatomy, that celebrates how we nurture and feed our precious little ones. And I spent way too much time playing in the app because it was so fun!

Which is how Hulk Baby happened. Way too much time. :D

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A Gentle and Quiet Spirit

I'm a big fan of using a concordance when I want to dwell on a particular verse. It helps me to get a better understanding of the connotations of the specific words chosen and through it God speaks to me deeper revelations of His heart.

This morning, I was pondering on 1 Peter 3:4 which talks about the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.

I've done a word study on this verse before. Today I wanted to refresh my memory on the full meaning of gentle and quiet. (Spoiler alert: Quiet has nothing to do with volume!) I needed to recenter my heart and my focus.

According to Strong's concordance, the word translated gentle has connotations of reserve AND strength. It's described further as "God's strength under His control" or "demonstrating power without harshness." Gentle. I love that picture.

The word translated quiet is about inner stillness. It describes a spirit that stands "steady (settled) due to a divinely-inspired inner calmness." My very favorite description: "'calmly quiet' or 'appropriately tranquil' by not misusing (or overusing) words that would stir up needless friction (destructive commotion)."

That last one hit me right in the feels this morning. And that feeling was conviction. OUCH. ;) Pretty sure I could've used a reminder on that at some point last night!

Basically, when Peter wrote about a gentle and quiet spirit, this is what he envisioned: Strength demonstrated under control without harshness and a heart at peace that holds it's tongue from words that would only cause unnecessary drama. That does sound like a beautiful soul.

Saturday, December 17, 2016


Sometimes your heart gets a little sick, when you've lost hope that things will change for the better. Sometimes your heart feels a little raw and discouragement hangs thick in the atmosphere. Times when you watch someone else's happy ending and your heart longs and aches for your own, because you've been stuck in your wilderness for 39 years and it's about time to be done, y'all.

That was the kind of mood I was in yesterday and this morning, and when I was done pouring my heart out and began to listen to His, Galatians 6:9 came to mind. "Do not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

IF we do not give up. Maybe a breakthrough is right around the corner. Maybe it's further out than that. Either way, He leads me in victory, (2 Corinthians 2:14) so I should probably keep going! ;) Fight the good fight and all that. (1 Timothy 6:12)

So for anyone else needing a little inspiration and encouragement, here are the scriptures related to endurance that resonated with my heart this morning:

Romans 5:1-5 "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."

Romans 12:12 "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."

Romans 15:5 "May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had..."

Romans 15:13 "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through the One who empowers me within."

Hebrews 10:36 "For you need endurance, so that after you have done God's will you can receive what he has promised."

James 1:2-4 "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."