Using An Abdominal Binder After Childbirth
Although the use of the abdominal binder following pregnancy has seen a resurgence of interest
amongst women across Western countries in recent years, it’s actually a very ancient practice with roots in many
cultures across the globe.
In some cases belly binding is a traditional practice handed down from mother to daughter down the
generations. In some places it may be a ritual part of the post-birth period, complete with the use of oils and
herbs as part of a ceremony.
The Benefits of an Abdominal Binder
As well as getting a mother on the way to a flatter stomach again, and guard against post pregnancy stretch
marks, the abdominal binder has also been used to prevent hernia, and shift misplaced organs when the
possibility of surgical help has been non-existent. Binding also helps give back support while you’re lifting all
those things you suddenly need once your baby has arrived!
In the Americas, the Mayans of Mexico had the abdominal binder put on by the midwife as her last duty after
seeing to the birth. This followed a massage that helped to restore the organs to their correct position.
In the final stage of the massage process, another female relative (usually the mother-in-law) helped the midwife
by laying the binder over the abdomen and they passed the ends to each other under the small of the new
mother’s back. The binder was cinched around the pelvis as tightly as the woman could stand it. Amongst Hispanic
women today throughout the Americas, it is still common, as it has been for hundreds of years, to wear the faja -
meaning ‘girdle’ - after having a baby.
Belly Binding In The East
In Japan by contrast some women just relied on tightening the sash traditionally worn with the kimono. Others
went through a full ceremony where they were wrapped with a special cloth called a sarashi, and the spirits of the
ancients were invoked to help aid the mother's post birth recovery. This shows the importance of the practice in a
country which likes to ritualise all sorts of things, including the tea ceremony. Elsewhere in Asia, Hmong women of
Vietnam and Laos still practise the abdominal binding handed down by their ancestors. In their case this was
particularly to avoid feeling bloated and huge following meals.
In the tribes of southern Africa, the practice of using the abdominal binder post pregnancy was known as bopha
isisu, which literally means wrapping the stomach, which sounds more comforting somehow!
In some cultures, for example the Philippines, women have extended the concept of the abdominal binder, and the
wrapping covers the hips as well as the abdomen. This probably helps with the pelvic floor, which can be severely
distended by the birth process. In olden times the abdominal binder was normally put on first by a
hilot (midwife) who would teach the mother how to do this for herself thereafter. This type of binding is also
thought to help reduce or even prevent the widening of the hips after childbirth. Some modern versions of the
abdominal binder, such as the Shrinkx Hips, follow this design.
Lastly, in Java (Indonesia), belly binding was normally done with the main aim of shrinking the distended womb.
At the end of a massage session following birth, herbs would be placed on the stomach and the womb would be held in
place by the new abdominal binder, which would stretch from just below the bust to below the crotch, and the
binding was traditionally used for 40 days.
The Modern Abdominal Binder
Today the application of an abdominal binder may not form part of a ritual or tradition but they are
nevertheless just as useful. Easily obtainable online from suppliers such as Amazon they are gaining in popularity
with mothers everywhere.
The Abdomend Abdominal Binder pictured at the top of the page is a good example of what is