Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Wrapping the Pregnant Belly and Postpartum Belly Binding

This is my third pregnancy, but the first pregnancy that I have felt any need for belly support. I was rolling along just fine, feeling great until about a week ago. At thirty-four weeks my midwife guesstimated that my baby was 4-4 1/2 lb. Now, in these final days they say that babies increase an average of a half pound per week. So, I'm thinking I've got it made, and even if she comes on her due date, she is still going to be under eight pounds. Well, yesterday at my thirty-six week checkup, my midwife thought that this baby has just had a serious growth spurt and she is guessing that she is 6- 6 1/2 lb. Basically, maybe she just grew two pounds in two weeks.

So hopefully my tummy is just sore from all that growing. But there is one spot that has been exceptionally achey. In fact I keep lifting my shirt to see if I've developed my first stretch marks or expecting to see a big bruise, but nada. A girlfriend recommended I rub arnica infused oil into the sore spot which has helped somewhat. Staying off my feet helps a ton, but how practical is that?! So, as I was doing some research I came across some posts and Youtube videos of wrapping the pregnant belly. So the last two days I've wrapped up my belly and that has made it possible for me to do all that I've been doing. Without wrapping my belly I surely would not have gotten my herbal birth kit together today which involved hours of standing on my feet in the kitchen. My favorite Youtube videos come from a woman from the U.K. who has a whole blog on baby wrapping and wearing. It can be a bit intimidating for myself and others who have used one wrap for babies and toddlers of all ages as she recommends different wraps for different ages and purposes. As tempting as shopping for more wraps is, I remind myself that I made do with one blue Storchenweige wrap every day, all day for Noah and Avery, from their newborn days to late toddler days without any problems. I did use an Ergo carrier as well when they were older and when it was rainy or muddy or more convenient. Anyways, here is a link with a video of one of the wrap positions that I like. I have figured out another wrap position as well that just covers my belly that is also nice.

My midwives offered to bind my belly after labor and at first I wasn't so sure. For one, I don't want to be pulled away or distracted from my new baby. I also, really love being skin to skin for at least our first couple days, or more likely weeks - for as much as possible and I am concerned that a cloth wrapped around my torso will totally get in the way of that precious contact. But, I started doing some research, and as I read about belly binding, I also read about a spiritual aspect of it that mom's today miss out on. We give birth and then all of our and everyone else's attention is on the baby. I know that I am so pre-occupied with baby that I really don't think or care about my own needs or discomforts. In some cultures belly binding is part of a larger ceremony; the mother has just given birth, experienced a loss from her body, all this heat has left, leaving behind an empty space that is now cool and loose. We are somewhat weakened and off balance, having to adjust to the loss. The Binding process is often part of a larger sealing or closing ceremony that can happen a day or two or more after giving birth. The midwives or family draw a warm bath with flowers for the mother. You exfoliate your belly and then then your midwives or women about you apply a warm paste of herbs over your belly and wrap up your torso to keep all that heat in. To me it sounds very nourishing and comforting.

The wrapping itself is supposed to help with healing muscle tears (like diastasis recti), help organs back into place, support the torso and help with nursing slouch and overall toning of the torso. I believe it is recommended to do the wrapping for forty days and up to twelve hours a day. Personally, I unless I thought I had some muscle tearing, I'm just planning on doing this for a couple days after birth and trying it out, but I don't think I'm going to become an avid torso wrapper. I just haven't felt that it was necessary before. My plan has been to wrap my baby onto my bare skin using my Storchenweige and newborn wrap holds. Then put some big baggy shirts over both me and the baby for as much skin to skin contact as possible.

However, if I thought I had some muscle tearing or a diastase recti, then I would start looking into both the binding for a longer period, as well as appropriate exercises to do.

The paste that you can apply under the wrap brings heat to the area, speeds healing, increases blood flow and circulation, might ease after birth pains and tones the area. I thought that this all sounded like a plus and while messy, might be worth a try for a day or two. Equally and possibly more appealing due to the lack of mess, would be an essential oil rub with some of the same essential oils - were that in my budget... Anyways, I thought this whole subject was new and interesting so here are some posts I came across this week on belly binding in case anyone else wants to read further on the subject.

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