Belly binding has a long history in many different cultures, including West Africa, South America, and Asia, where both prenatal and postpartum belly binding are popular traditions.
Considering the fact that most women gain somewhere around 30lbs during pregnancy, most of which is carried in our bellies (putting considerable strain on our backs), belly support can be an incredibly helpful way to prevent or treat the body pain associated with pregnancy.
I am now 35 weeks pregnant, and have had the usual round ligament pain, as well as some pubic bone pain. Belly binding has been a tremendous help. The difference is immediate and incredible. I have my husband tie me up tightly (not so tight that nerves are pinched or blood flow is constricted) and wear it all day; we use a woven wrap but you can even use a scarf if that is all you have. This instructional video shows how to use a baby-wearing wrap to do prenatal belly binding.
Belly binding is not only for prenatal comfort– it can also help with postpartum healing. This instructional video shows the traditional Taiwanese form of postpartum belly binding, which is a bit intricate, but simply using a wrap to tie yourself up for support (as in the previous video) can work as well.
Postpartum belly binding is often touted as the way to get a “flat tummy,” but I do not emphasize the aesthetic reasons as much as the health aspect. Pregnancy causes your abdominal muscles to widen and stretch, and if they do not heal from this separation after birth (known as Diastasis Recti), it can lessen your core strength and contribute to serious back pain.
Postpartum belly binding helps keep these muscles in place and strengthen them after baby is born. Along with safe postpartum exercises that do not exacerbate Diastasis Recti, belly binding can be a tremendous help. There are several products out there to consider for postpartum belly binding, but I personally prefer the old-fashioned wrapping. Note: belly binding is NOT to be confused with the popular belly wraps sold these days. Belly binding is not about making your waistline appear temporarily smaller– it is for actual therapeutic healing.
As usual, check with a trusted healthcare professional before starting any new exercise routine.
Pregnant mamas– try binding your bellies and let me know how it feels! :)