The Facts about Belly BInding
"...the belly bind helps contain movement of the organs while they are trying to find their way back to their original setting. If the belly is jiggling or bouncing too much after the baby comes out, it can take longer for everything to settle back the way it was. It also assists in guiding the abdomen back to its proper position and, as a result, is effective in preventing hernias. ..."
What is a Belly Band?
For those of you who may be unfamiliar, a belly band or bind is like an elastic that wraps around the midsection and is held together by an intricate weave of fabric, tying or, my favorite, good old velcro. I found it very useful in a number of ways. In many cultures and traditions all over the world, belly binding is so important for postpartum recovery.
When I was back home, one sisters who assisted me during labor and postpartum used a simple fabric to tie around my belly nice and tight before I could use the belly bind I had. After about a day or so, my uterus had reduced enough for my belly to go down some and I was able to start using my belly band. Belly binding, from a traditional perspective, is one of the essentials in assisting the mother in her recovery process.
In Meritah, a child born into the world is seen as a spirit, a valuable entity that has a destiny and bloodline that all of us who come in contact with the child, must honor and respect. Everyone takes responsibility for how the child ends up because they are not only a reflection of the individual who raised them, but are representative of a whole culture.
Carrying a child to term and birthing that child in the best way is of utmost importance. Therefore, there are some behavioral and dietary restrictions that are imposed during pregnancy on the mother to ensure she stays healthy (physically and spiritually) while her unborn child is growing and maturing inside her.
This article is a collection of questions I posed and the responses I received by the elder women who supported me and taught me how to care for my newborn son. Bathing is one of the most important occurrences in the life of an infant and throughout their childhood. In the Tem culture of Sokode, Togo, bathing is done very thoroughly.
Why a Belly Band?
There are a variety of styles and materials used in different cultures, but I found that a very basic velcro band is accessible and easy to use. You may not always have someone around to assist you with it, so it is good to have something you can maneuver yourself.
During pregnancy, the uterus grows from about the size of a lemon to about the size of a watermelon. This massive expansion requires all the other organs sharing the space of mom’s midsection, to displace as to make room for the growing baby inside her. Once the baby is born, the uterus shrinks back down fairly rapidly. During this process, it may even feel as though the organs are somewhat suspended inside the body.
As my Master taught me, the belly bind helps contain movement of the organs while they are trying to find their way back to their original setting. If the belly is jiggling or bouncing too much after the baby comes out, it can take longer for everything to settle back the way it was. It also assists in guiding the abdomen back to its proper position and, as a result, is effective in preventing hernias. I would suggest even wearing yours as you slowly get back into mild exercise or basic chores that call on lifting, or bending over for long periods of time. At least until you are feeling yourself again, physically. This may vary for you depending on a number of factors from pregnancy to labor. But, generally the first 6-8 weeks, I would suggest wearing one. For myself, the belly band served as an excellent source of back and abdomen support for many weeks.
My Personal Experience
My abs were fairly weak after I delivered and with the back support, it made everyday movement a lot more natural for me. Nursing especially, was much better done with the support it gave my back. I was able to return to some of my basic chores (washing, cleaning, etc.) with no discomfort in those areas. I wore mine 24/7 for about a month straight, then started taking it off at night around 6 weeks. I think I was finished with it all together around 7 weeks, but some mothers wear theirs for longer. It all really depends on how your postpartum life is going and how much support it is providing you. One thing I did realize after a month is how dependent I had become on my belly band. When I didn’t have it and would go to nurse, it was noticeable how much support I was lacking without my band. I needed to call on my own back muscles for support instead of having my band to rely on, but little by little my strength increased.
Same thing with house chores, etc. Even though it wasn’t painful, it was clear that I needed to get used to engaging my muscles again with the added weight of my breasts. The time I spent wearing it only at night was kind of a “weaning period”, if I can call it that. But, they are so useful when you first deliver and your body has just gone through the trauma of releasing a child into the world. Any assistance you can get for the first few months is a life-saver.
Thanks for reading!
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