I had to try out postpartum belly-wraps after Tunisian friends told me that their slim postbaby waists were due to their mothers binding them as tight as they could. These ladies couldn't imagine why the Germans didn't tie their abdomens after giving birth.
Looking at my belly after my first baby, I decided to try out belly-binding the second time round. Contrary to my optimistic expectations, my abdomen hadn't show any talent for automatically shrinking (no thanks for the genes, mom). I had wanted hoped and willed my postpartum abs to look like Demi Moore's. Actually they looked like Demi Moore's when she was 3 month pregnant.
I found out that most cultures have some form of postpartum belly binding. What I tried out after my second baby was a traditional Malaysian belly corset, called Bengkung.
Why belly-binding ?It's a practice of tying a strip(s) of clothe around the abdomen during the postpartum recovery period.
- It helps to slim the ribcage, belly and hips.
- Pulls the separated abdominal muscles (diastasis recti) get back together.
- Prevents back pain: while wearing it, you are forced to sit and walk straight, a good antidote to the "nursing-slouch".
- You know that feeling of your guts falling out in the postpartum weeks ? I don't but a lot of women have described it to me. A Bengkung gives you a nice, supported feeling.
- I read somewhere that using a tight corset makes the bust grow bigger, since apparently the fat has nowhere else to go. Just after pregnancy you won't be wanting a bigger bust, but it will get smaller very soon, so you might be interested in this tip !
- Belly binding speeds up getting rid of waste blood. I experienced this myself, since I was having issues (no bleeding), until I started using the Bengkung.
- More info from Natural Health After Birth.
Does belly binding stop the abdominal muscles from working ?I don't see how tying a postpartum girdle would prevent any muscle from working. I mean, you still obviously use those muscles when you get up, walk, whatever. If these were somehow "prevented" from working, you wouldn't be able to do move at all. SO yes, all the muscles work, they are just prevented from bulging out.
What's a Bengkung ?It's a traditional Malaysian belly binding method. Actually they look like long mummy-wraps, but the Mia Bengkung is an "instant" version that is easy to put on, even without anyone else helping you.
Traditional Benkung: skip to 1:40
What makes a Bengkung different from western postpartum girdles like Belly Bandit ?
It's the length: a Bengkung starts right under the breasts and goes over the hips. This way, it doesn't just work on the waist, but also helps the ribcage and the hips go back to their former dimensions. Also, it stays put when you move, and so it doesn't press on the abdomen.
Note the cute green towel Karen added !
Karen offers a padded and a non-padded version of the Bengkung corset. I choose the padded since it's supposed to be more comfortable, and I wore it at 25 degrees without feeling too hot (I do overheat fast !).
Temperature and padding concerns:
Bengkung vs tying a cloth/scarf:Before my Bengkung arrived, I used my Diddymos baby sling (long & non-stretchy & nonslip fabric) to tie myself up. It was doable, but I couldn't get it on as tight as the Bengkung, and you can't really cover the bust-to-hips area with it. It all gets bunched up in the end.
Eternal*Voyageur's tips for Mia Bengkung
- I actually preferred to wear mine back-to-front most of the time. I didn't like the feeling of my belly protruding between the band when it was in the front. I didn't tie it myself, of course.
- It works best when you put it on last thing at night. Since you won't be getting up any more, you can have it as tight as you want it and it won't bunch. Lie in the bed, and get your partner to lace you in. Warning: he might develop a corset fetish.
- Karen says to ties it moderately tight, while my Tunisian friends advised me to tighten it till I think I'll split in two. Either way, remember that it does loosen up while wearing, so tie it a bit tighter than you want it.
- If you live in a hot climate, you might need two Bengkungs, since you'll be washing them frequently.
- Wear your panties over the Bengkung. Yes, that looks ridiculous, but trust me, much easier in the toilet.
- The Bengkung should start immediately under the bra. Otherwise you get a roll of fat there.
- If unsure about the size, get the smaller one. Or send Karen your measurements, she'll help you make the right choice.
- Order in advance. Paypal takes time to process foreign transactions, and the post from Malaysia isn't lightning quick either. You need to start wearing the Benkung a few days after giving birth.
- Don't forget to choose your Bengkung type and size!
I did order 3 bottles of Biotrim Herbal Lotion, but I can't review it's effectiveness as I alternated it with several other products.
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I have paid for the item myself. I would use it myself again, and would recommend it to my friends.