The Art of the Sacred Belly Bind

The Art of the Sacred Belly Bind

The following is a student blog post by Laura Martin-Eagle

Belly binding involves wrapping the postpartum mama’s belly to support her physically and to aid in the healing after childbirth. A long strip of fabric is wrapped around the belly from the ribcage to the hips. This may occurs as early as day five and then is worn for 40 days or longer.
The art of belly binding is a technique that has its roots in Asian culture. I found discrepancies regarding where it may have originated although many attribute it to Malaysian royalty many centuries ago. This form of belly binding was known as Bengkung. There are also stories of Native Americans that used sash binding after birth to promote healing.  These would be worn following application of herbs on the belly. In traditional births of Latin America a large cloth called ‘faja’ was wrapped tightly on her body after an abdominal massage to help with the healing of the muscle wall as well as to ensure the womb returned to its proper base.  A more decorative second cloth often then covered the faja. Japanese women traditionally spent up to 100 days after birth in rest. They would use a cloth that folded around the womb called a sarashi to aid in the healing.
In Ayurveda, Indian medicine from 5000 years ago, birth was known to create an excess of Vata, which is primarily air and space. As space is created during the birth, the tendency is to fill it. This can create havoc with the system and with the traditional art of belly binding, we can prevent excess Vata from accumulating.
Some of the other benefits to baby binding include postural support. The binding can support the torso and organs which aids in the healing. It supports the abdominal wall and diastasis recti (abdominal separation) recovery. It also can support the spine and posture alignment. It reduces lower back pain.  It stabilizes loose ligaments. It can also speed up the healing of the uterus and promote the cleansing of blood clots. The binding relieves water retention, improves circulation, accelerates fat burning and provides comfort for anxiety and postpartum depression. It also supports the return of placement of the internal organs, and can be attributed to less tension headaches caused by bodily discomfort. The Bengkung binding, due to its particular placement also supports the hips, and brings stability to the pelvis and pelvic floor.

belly bind
Binding generally begins with a soothing massage with warm oils that are designed to help ease the pain of the shrinking uterus. The belly is then kept warm with the binding. These can be left on for a short while daily or for maximum benefit can be left on full days, and removed for sleeping for up to 3 months as needed.
The sacred art of belly binding does not promise a pre-pregnant body shape, or miracle cure for all that may be encountered or an hourglass waistline. It is a supportive ritual that can be daily performed with love and self-care. Belly binding helps women’s bodies heal while leaving them feeling held and secure during the post-partum period.

Laura Martin-Eagle is an Ayurvedic practitioner and postpartum Ayurdoula working internationally from her home in Lawrence, Kansas. She has studied with BAI, Sacred Window Ayurdoula School, Wise Earth School of Ayurveda, California College of Ayurveda, DR. Frawley and Robert Sachs. For more info please enjoy


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