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: