What is post natal binding?

In Malaysian culture, the practice of post natal binding has been part of the confinement period for many generations. Recently, this practice is becoming more widespread, with celebrities like Jessica Alba admitting to using a belly wrap style corset to get in shape after giving birth.
We asked Nur Azlin, our expert birth Doula, to tell us more about post natal binding:

What is post-natal binding?

Post natal binding is the practice of binding the abdominal area in a compression wrap after giving birth. First a herbal paste called ‘param’ in Malay is applied before binding  the area tightly with a long cloth called ‘bengkung.’
It is normally done by an experienced masseuse.

How is it worn?

There are different types of binders or “bengkung”. My mum used the traditional long piece of cotton type cloth, where her masseuse binded her abdomen by wrapping it around the area and tying the ends tightly. In my case, the masseuse used a long piece of cotton type cloth with strings attached to the ends. She then criss-crossed the strings to ensure tightness of the binding (like wearing a corset).
My masseuse made sure the binding was tight but comfortable enough to breathe in. There are also Velcro-type of binders available for use.

When is the best time to practice this?

For a mum who has had a vaginal birth, binding can be done as soon as you have been discharged from hospital. The binding can be done for as long as the duration of the post-natal massage (usually about 5-10 days) to reap the benefits of binding.
If you have had a caesarean birth, binding is usually done about 3-4 weeks after birth to ensure the wound is properly healed.
I was encouraged to wear the “bengkung” throughout the whole day and through the night, until the next morning before showering.

Read about the pros and cons of post natal binding on the next page…