Thoughts on postnatal abdominal massage and binding
Warning: This is a bit of a ranty/venty type of a post. I have too many thoughts floating around my head at the moment on this topic and I apologise if I couldn’t really get a coherent and concise post out of all of them.
I think that a large proportion of the western world does not take care of new mothers.
It starts with labour – the baby is monitored closely, but very often the wellbeing of the mother is a secondary priority.
After the birth, most of the attention is on the baby. Midwives and/or doctor ask the mother some standard questions about how they’re feeling, but I don’t know any women who were offered information on: where to get breastfeeding help, where to find a night nanny if needed, where to find information on exercising… Leaflets shoved at you do not count as advice.
Looking around me, talking to mothers both online and offline, I feel that new mothers are increasingly feeling neglected, alone and as a result stressed and depressed.
Breastfeeding issues aside (I’ve written many times about the lack of breastfeeding support in England), the other big issue in my opinion is the physical wellbeing of the new mother.
Pregnancy takes a huge toll on your body. Your back aches and is probably not aligned properly by the time you give birth, your ribcage expands, your internal organs get shoved in all kinds of unnatural directions due to the growing baby, your skin stretches and your feet swell. No matter how enjoyable a pregnancy is for the obvious reason of feeling awesome for making another human being – it is very hard work on your body.
Somehow a lot of women have been ‘taught’ to accept the notion that your body will be wrecked and ‘never the same’ after you have had children.
I don’t think that this attitude should be accepted.
I believe that your body IS able to bounce back marvellously IF given the right care and support.
I didn’t gain much extra weight in pregnancy, but I have struggled a lot with my abdomen – for the longest time after giving birth to either of my kids I could not lie on my side. Whenever I did, I felt like all my internal organs were spilling out – a totally weird, creepy and scary feeling. So even though standing up I didn’t have a noticeable baby belly, beyond the surface my midriff was completely shattered.
I am now best friends with the Plank (it’s amazing how many exercises you can do in plank position :| ), but it’s taken me YEARS to not feel that I’ll spill my guts (literally) when I lie on my side. (A diet very low in gluten and sugar helps as well actually, even a tiny bit of bloating makes me feel like I’ll come undone again.)
BUT – why am I all of a sudden talking about post baby bellies?
Enter a lovely Indonesian mother of 4 children who yesterday enlightened me about how the Indonesians have done postnatal care since the 17th century. Everything she told me enforced my belief that it is possible for mothers to gain back their ‘old’ self after giving birth.
In Indonesia every new mother goes through a course of Jamu postnatal massage and belly binding.
According to a Singaporean website, The Origins of Jamu Massage, the massage:
- Helps to tighten back and tone over-stretched tummy
- Speeds up recovery afterbirth
- Helps to get rid of “Trapped Wind” in your body
- Helps to eliminate toxins and reduce water retention
- Helps to gain back your energy level
- Support your spine after birth and during breastfeeding
- Relieves body aches & leg cramps
- Helps to relieve constipation
- Speeds up shrinkage of womb
- Helps to remove remaining blood clots
- Assists and helps with breastfeeding
- Improves muscle and skin tone
- Helps to reduce postnatal depression
- Builds up your confidence
The binding is done using a cloth binder after each massage session. It further helps to support and straighten the spine and tighten the stomach muscles.
She said that it feels wonderful to be pampered in that way after giving birth and it feels great to feel supported by the binding. The binding gives relief to your back after carrying the baby for 9 months and by feeling supported by your core, you also feel emotionally better.
I listened to her and thought – why didn’t anyone tell me about this kind of massage and binding when I was pregnant?!?!?!?
And when I got home I couldn’t sleep, I kept thinking about it… Why is that not done here? Why is it not an essential part of postnatal care? Why is it not crucial here that the mother feels the best that is possible after giving birth? Doesn’t the wellbeing of the mother (both physical and mental as they’re very closely related) have an effect on the wellbeing of the baby?
At the moment I’m mad at the western world for not knowing how to take care of mothers. And I’m also mad at myself for not researching these things when I was pregnant. My baby belly is gone by now, but I will keep planking religiously because I cannot forget the feeling of being completely ‘undone’ and ‘unsupported’ by my midriff.
End of vent :)
BUT – I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on this.
Have you not been as ignorant about belly massage and binding as I have been?
Has your experience of postnatal care been totally positive and you see no problem in postnatal care of mothers?
How is the situation in Estonia? America? France? Dubai? Scandinavia?
AND – do you want to come to Indonesia with me to study Jamu? :D (I totally want to learn it and set up my own postnatal care clinic).