I keep coming across people talking about belly wrapping and it's great that people are interested in this ancient postpartum tradition again, but the way some people talk about it makes belly wrapping sound like a complicated procedure. I wanted to share my own learnings and experience with belly wrapping after childbirth. I like to keep things simple. I'm not into rules, I'm into feeling good. It's all about oxytocin.
Why Should I Wrap My Belly?
In case you are still wondering why you would wrap your belly after birth there is many reasons. Belly wrapping grounds your nervous system by preventing air and space elements from entering the body, helps your organs come back into their proper positions, aids digestion, aids posture and helps with the application of therapeutic oils. But there is one more reason (and I think it is the only one that matters.)
Belly wrapping after childbirth FEELS SO GOOD!!! Most women love it, they feel comforted and held and nourished, it's like an all-day hug.
Of course, some women don't like it, and that's fine too. If it doesn't feel good, just leave it out of your postpartum rejuvenation plan.
What Equipment Do I Need?
There are loads of specially designed belly wraps and if they appeal to you and feel good then use them. But I've found they dig in or ride up. You can also just use about 1/2 a metre of soft cotton or muslin and wrap it around yourself, an old sari is perfect. Some mothers love this daily wrapping sadhana (spiritual practice) others find they simply don't have time and it's too fiddly.
I like simple tubular bandages, because they slip on and off easily and don't need any pins or fastenings.
If you can afford to have a few belly wraps it's useful to have one to wear, one for the wash and one for your baby brain to lose track of!
Also buy yourself some organic black sesame oil, because the sanskrit word for oil (sneha) means love, and that's what it's all about. I include organic black sesame oil and my favourite belly binding in my Nourishing Traditions self-care kits.
How Do I Wrap My Belly?
Rub a generous amount of warm sesame oil over your abdomen (ideally as part of your daily oil massage). If you only have one belly wrap you may like to add an extra layer of cotton first to protect your wrap. If you have a spare wrap you can use your wrap straight on top of the oil and wash it every few days.
Your wrapping should feel like a gentle, comfortable, compression, and should not restrict your breathing or movement in any way. It's really just common sense. After a few days, you'll figure out what feels good for you. A heat pack on your abdomen can feel oh-so-nourishing too.
To wash the oil out of your belly wrap throw it in your washing machine on a hot cycle with a small amount of dishwashing machine powder (yes dishwashing). Dry your wrap on the line, as oily linen can cause a fire in the dryer.
How Long Should I Wrap My Belly?
Again this is entirely dictated by your comfort levels. I haven't found any guidelines in the ancient Ayurvedic texts. Some women like to leave their wrap on for 24 hours a day for weeks. Others prefer to take it off at night. Four hours a day after your massage may be enough for you. My teacher, Ysha Oakes, talks about a 90-year-old great-grandmother who was still wearing her belly wrapping since her own babies were born.
That's it. Keep it simple, and be guided by your comfort. Enjoy! Have you wrapped your belly? Did it feel good?
For more information on nourishing postpartum traditions check out my recipe book, Nourishing Newborn Mothers.