The Benefits of Belly Binding

Nashville Doula Services now offers belly binding services!

What is Postpartum Belly Binding? 

Belly binding is a tradition in many eastern cultures.  The practice involves using special knots to tie a long strip of cloth around the abdomen – sometimes after applying an herbal paste or essential oils to the abdomen – during the postpartum recovery period  to support a woman’s uterus and other organs after childbirth. The Bengkung style of belly binding seen here is specific to the Malaysian culture. 

Benefits of Postpartum Belly Binding:

  • It helps to slim the ribcage, abdomen and hips.
  • Pulls in the separated abdominal muscles (diastasis recti) back together.
  • Encourages healing from pelvic/pubic separation (a partial bind during pregnancy can be especially beneficial for pelvic support).
  • Supports relaxed and stretched out muscles.
  • Reduce fluid and air retention in bowels/abdomen. 
  • Gets rid of the “empty” feeling after childbirth.
  • Nurtures the mother in a time of vulnerability and healing.
  • Prevents back pain. While wearing it, you are reminded to sit and walk straight, a good antidote to the “nursing-slouch”.
  • Decreases postpartum bleeding time by speeding up the process of getting rid of waste blood in a natural way. 
  • It’s an ancient traditional natural way of healing after birth.
  • In the case of a miscarriage or still-birth, belly binding can improve emotional healing as it speeds physical healing.
  • It feels good!

Belly Binding FAQ

Q: How long should I wear the binding?

A: Traditionally, the Malaysian belly bind is done  for the entire postpartum “confinement” period, which is 30-40 days in the cultures that observe this practice. This is unpractical for modern day living, and the results diminish after a week or two.  We’ve found the best belly binding  length to be 12-24 hours for 5 – 10 days.

Q: When do I start belly binding?

A: 2-5 days postpartum after a vaginal birth and 4-6 weeks postpartum after a c-section. 

Q: What makes belly binding different from western postpartum girdles like Belly Bandit?

A: Its length and the custom fit. A Malaysian Belly Bind is a long wrap that covers from under the chest all the way down to below the hips. This way, it doesn’t just work on the waist, but also helps the ribcage and the hips go back to their former dimensions. It also stays put when you move, and so it doesn’t press on the abdomen. Girdles that only bind the abdomen also push down on the pelvic floor muscles and organs, potentially causing or worsening pelvic, uterine, or bladder prolapse. The custom fit cannot be found anywhere else, and this improves the results you will see. 

Q: How effective is belly binding compared to a postpartum girdle, like the ones you can buy at  Wal-mart? 

A: Imagine the difference between buying pants that claim to fit everyone, regardless of size or shape and getting custom-fitted by a professional. What would be more comfortable? The custom fit is, of course, going to give you the best results. Likewise the traditional belly bind is a custom fit every time. It’s made of soft materials instead of having boning or Velcro like most girdles, which can dig into your skin and be painful when you sit or lay down, especially if you’ve had a cesarean. The Malaysian belly bind is the best option for your time and money if you want the results mentioned above. 

Q: How do I go to the bathroom while wearing the belly bind?

A: I recommend having the belly bind wrapped beneath all of your clothes for the best fit and most comfort and convenience. The most effective belly bind stretches from just below your bust to about mid-hip, near your pelvic bone. For modesty’s sake (and because of heavy postpartum flow) you’ll want to wear whatever underwear (mesh, etc.) while binding. It is still easy enough to pull your underwear out from under the bind the first time you use the bathroom and when you’re finished, simply pull them up over the bind or tuck them back underneath. 

Q: My belly bind bunches, rolls, or moves during the day. How can I keep it from doing that?

The belly bind moves because you move! Realize, the cultures that do this also practice confinement, which is a period after birth where the woman remains in bed the majority of the time. If you are up and moving postpartum, the belly bind is going to shift, bunch, and roll. The only way to prevent this is to move less. Part of what belly binding does is encourage you to be down and resting.

Q: Am I too late to belly bind if I’m x-number of months/years postpartum?

The short answer is no. You can still receive benefits belly binding after 8 weeks postpartum.

Q: You mentioned the belly bind can be useful during pregnancy. Can you tell me more about that? 

A: During pregnancy the hormone Relaxin works to loosen up all our joints in preparation for birth. This enables the baby to move more easily through the normally rigid pelvic area, as it allows bones and joints a greater range of movement. Unfortunately this can also result in greater discomfort during pregnancy when the pubic bone begins to separate. Sitting, laying down, and normal day-to-day movements sometimes become painful or even impossible. The bind can be tied short, giving support to your growing belly as well as your hips and pelvic/pubic bones. It is easier, however, to simply use a scarf, short baby wrap, or rebozo to wrap the hips, rather than have someone come bind you every day. (Please note: misuse of the belly bind during pregnancy without support from a professional can lead to restricted fetal growth and worsened pain, and is not advised).    

Q: Can I still belly bind if I have a c-section?

A: You can still receive belly binding if you have a c-section. We will wait until 4 – 6 weeks postpartum, based on your healing and recovery. The belly bind still has many benefits within the first two months. Depending on your comfort level, I may utilize a Taiwanese form of belly binding that is gentler on the incision site. 

Q: Can I still belly bind if I have a miscarriage or still-birth?

A: You can still receive belly binding if either of these situations occurs, and in fact, the belly bind will speed your emotional as well as physical healing. Contact me for special bereavement pricing.

Q: How much does belly binding cost?

A. It is $150 a session.

Q: How do I sign up for belly binding?

Follow this link!

Why Moms are Keeping Their Placenta

“You’re encapsulating and eating your what?!” For those of you who chose to encapsulate your placenta, you may have heard this question from curious or confused friends and family. Today we will totally dispel the mystery of placentophagy (eating your placenta)!

Let’s start with the basics. What is a placenta? The placenta is an organ that develops in your uterus during pregnancy. It provides oxygen and nutrients to your baby and removes waste products. The placenta also produces hormones that support your pregnancy, labor, and birth.

So, you may be wondering how consuming this organ will benefit you after having your baby. Throughout history women have told stories of their experiences including improved mood, increased energy, improved lactation, a reduction in postpartum bleeding, a faster recovery, a boost in energy and relief in postpartum blues to name a few. There have been several studies done to help us understand some of these possible benefits. Here are our top 5 favorite reasons for choosing placenta encapsulation to jump start your postpartum season!

1. According to a study done by the National Institutes of Health, postpartum women have lower than average levels of a hormone CRH, triggering depressive symptoms. They concluded that eating the placenta will raise a mother’s CRH levels therefore, reducing Postpartum Depression.

2. Many mothers have reported an increase in energy after consuming the iron rich placenta through encapsulation. A 1961 study on the Iron Content of Placentas and Cords by Bonnie McCoy, M.S., stated: “Data obtained on the fifty placentas and cords… The total iron content of the samples averaged 75.5mg and ranged from 34.5 to 170mg…” To compare: a 3 ounce cut of steak contains about 2.75mg of iron.

3. If you have heard about after birth pains or a difficult recovery after birth, placenta encapsulation has a possible solution for that too. It has been reported that the “Placenta Opiod-Enhancing Factor” may possibly reduce pain in the birthing mother after delivery. Read more here.

4. Many mothers have suggested an increase in milk supply through anecdotal evidence on consuming placenta capsules. Placentas contain hormones and Lactogens that possibly enhance mammary gland growth and milk production. Read more about it here.

5. Some key hormones contained in the placenta may play a role in these reported benefits. Prolactin promotes lactation. Cortisone combats stress and increases energy. Prostaglandins have anti-inflammatory properties. Hemoglobin helps to replenish iron. Urokinase inhibiting factor and factor XIII stops bleeding and enhances wound healing. Gammaglobulin is an immune booster that helps protect against postpartum infections.

Some mothers wonder, “Does the encapsulation process cook out the hormones and nutrients?” We say- No! The placenta is carefully steamed and dehydrated to ensure these important hormones and nutrients are not lost. This process is referred to as the Traditional Method. Your placenta is encapsulated either in your home or in the encapsulation specialist’s work space. After completing the two-day process, your placenta capsules are hand delivered to you.

If you have tried placenta encapsulation after any of your pregnancies, let us know your experience in the comments below. If you are in the Nashville area and interested in having your placenta encapsulated for your upcoming birth, contact us here and check out more info on this service here.

Q&A: Postpartum Depression

In a world where talking about “baby blues” and even Postpartum Depression is seen as taboo, we are opening up the conversation. Here in Nashville, we have an amazing resource for moms who may be experiencing some postpartum hardships: Emily Pardy at Ready Nest Counseling. We interviewed Emily to get some insight on how couples can prepare for the postpartum season and how she can support couples through this time.

Tell us a little bit about you.
My name is Emily Pardy. I’m a wife, mother, author, counselor, and founder of Ready Nest Counseling. I love to hear stories, tell stories, and inspire others to do the same. I enjoy coffee, Netflix, and love baking from scratch when I get the chance!

What services does Ready Nest Counseling Provide?
Ready Nest Counseling offers marriage and family therapy that helps couples transition into parenthood through the life stages of conception, pregnancy, postpartum, or infertility. Ready Nest Counseling focuses on the relational, mental, and emotional wellness, addressing specific challenges that a couple faces during these milestones.

When would you suggest couples reach out for counseling on pregnancy and parenting?
Everyone knows a baby will change everything. But, rarely do couples sit down and actually talk about their expectations, fears, or hopes about how parenthood will affect their world. I would encourage couples to be as proactive as possible, reaching out as soon as they want to begin the conversation about starting a family. Therapy is often considered the “last resort” for many couples, and too many times they get help when they face problems and challenges they don’t know how to handle. By preventatively getting therapy as part of their family planning process, they can truly enjoy this phase of their relationship by deepening their commitment, understanding, and trust before it ever gets tested.

Once a couple is pregnant, it’s normal for new fears and anxieties to set in. The mother and father are already adapting to the idea of their new roles as parents, yet they don’t have the relational and emotional tools necessary to help them effectively support one another through this transition. Ready Nest Counseling can help assess couples’ backgrounds and expectations, then give them the communication skills they require to help them engage in this process and enjoy it to its fullest.

What conversations are important for parents to have prenatally?
There are many bases to cover when it comes to preparing for a new baby. Sometimes these conversations are fun and lighthearted, like deciding on a baby name and picking out colors for the nursery! Other times, family dynamics create challenges that a couple has never faced before, such as determining how long the relatives will visit or which household chores each of them should perform. Reviewing each other’s history is incredibly helpful to know how both partners were “parented” and what their view of their own upbringing has been, as well as their perception of how their partner was raised. Everyone has deep feelings and opinions about how they were brought up, some positive and some negative, and it’s important to share these feelings and get on the same page as your partner in order to move forward in your own family with a united goal for your own baby.

Ready Nest Counseling offers couples an exclusive assessment that examines various factors of each couple’s own upbringing, and gives them a better understanding of how it will affect their own parenting style. Couples can then learn how to integrate their viewpoints into a parenting plan that helps their family thrive.

What are ways that couples can help prepare for the postpartum season to help minimize baby blues?
As cliché as it sounds, knowledge is power. Couples tend to avoid information about baby blues and postpartum depression or other perinatal mood disorders because they either believe it will never happen to them, or they are too scared to admit it might. Unfortunately, not knowing about the baby blues and postpartum ends up being far more frightening than developing a plan ahead of time so they know what to do in case they need to take steps towards getting help. Talking to their doctor or healthcare provider about any history of mental illness is essential. Asking friends about their raw, real experiences after childbirth can also be empowering. Finally, learning simple communication skills about how to navigate difficult conversations can truly offer preventative help for couples preparing for birth. Also, it’s important to note that several cases of postpartum depression and anxiety actually start during pregnancy; so, it’s never too early for a couple to learn more!

What are some helpful ways a mom can process her birth?
I have a motto for moms that “Every birth has worth.” Whether a new mom just experienced a birth that didn’t go according to her birth plan, or a couple endured a traumatic birth, it’s important to know that every story matters. Many moms can come out of the birth feeling like it happened to her, instead of actually engaging in the experience herself. This can manifest as grief, loss, depression, anxiety, and many other emotions that she didn’t anticipate. Support is incredibly important during this time, so that’s why Ready Nest Counseling encourages dads to participate in the therapy process even if it feels like “just mom needs help”. New mothers need to feel validated in their perception of what happened, then they can begin to process the events separate from the meaning. With help, new moms can rewrite their own birth stories, gaining perspective and gratitude that can help them heal from an experience that should have brought them joy from the beginning.

What’s the difference between baby blues and postpartum depression?
Many people don’t know the difference between “baby blues” and real postpartum depression. In fact, it is unfortunately common for healthcare providers to use the terms interchangeably, leading many new parents to fear their own experiences when quite possibly their emotions are entirely normal. Nearly every new mother (up to 80%) experiences some kind of “baby blues” within the first two weeks following birth. This can consist of sadness, crying and sobbing uncontrollably at times, irritability and mood swings, overly worrying about the baby, and having difficulty sleeping. While these adjustments can be difficult for the whole family to endure, the mother should be able to cope with proper support, and her feelings should level out within two or three weeks as everyone adapts to the new family dynamic and sleeping/feeding schedule. The fog of baby blues lifts as the new mother’s hormones balance out and her milk supply regulates. If, after a few weeks, she doesn’t feel like herself or the new father (or other close support) is noticing “she just doesn’t seem like herself” then it is quite possibly something more.
Postpartum depression (or anxiety, or other perinatal mood disorder) can show symptoms even when the mother is still pregnant and anytime within the first year after giving birth. Many people don’t realize that a new mom can experience a dramatic shift in emotions as late as 9-12 months after bringing her new baby home, so it’s important to understand that she is still within a timeframe of healing and adjustment long after the healthcare provider has given her the green light to resume normal daily life.

If the new mother has felt something isn’t right, or someone who is close to her suspects she is acting differently beyond the window of “baby blues”, it’s time to ask for help. Other warning signs for postpartum mood disorders include:
• Changes in eating habits (too much or too little)
• Changes in sleeping habits (too much or too little and not only resulting from baby care)
• Racing or intrusive thoughts that won’t stop
• Overly sad or anxious
• Feelings of guilt, shame, or hopelessness
• Thoughts that the baby/family is better off without you
• Loss of interest in things you used to enjoy
• Thoughts of harming oneself or baby
• Compulsively cleaning, counting, or checking things
• Isolation or desire for isolation
• Extreme need for constant help or inability to be alone
• Lack of desire to hold or interact with baby

How common is postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression (PPD) affects 15-20% of new mothers within the first year after childbirth. That’s nearly 1 in every 5 new mom out there! What’s more, new dads can also experience paternal postnatal depression (PPND), and if the mother is already diagnosed with PPD then they are twice as likely to have depression as well.

The good news is, that both PPD and PPND are entirely treatable, but it’s important to get help as early as possible. Postpartum depression is no one’s fault. It is temporary and treatable, but only with proper diagnosis and care. Sometimes medication or alternative medicine will help the new parent to cope, and therapy is always recommended to help the family learn the right skills to communicate, heal, and work together towards healthy habits that will help the family thrive. As the mom heals, so does the dad. The best indicator of dad’s mental wellness is the new mom’s mental and emotional wellness, so it’s vital that the entire system gets treatment to ensure the whole family benefits.

What are some warning signs that the partner can look out for?
If you suspect your partner might have postpartum depression, don’t wait to get help. There are many warning signs that can be red flags for PPD, but the number one sign is simply “not acting like normal”. Partners understand this best since they are usually around one another the most prior to birth and right after bringing the baby home. Many times, after a new mother has been diagnosed with PPD, the father will sigh with relief stating “I didn’t think that seemed normal, but I thought it was just from being tired or adjusting to the new baby.” If you’ve felt this way for more than two weeks, ask your partner about their behavior, and encourage them to get help.

Other warning signs for postpartum mood disorders include:
• Changes in eating habits (too much or too little)
• Changes in sleeping habits (too much or too little and not only resulting from baby care)
• Racing or intrusive thoughts that won’t stop
• Overly sad or anxious
• Feelings of guilt, shame, or hopelessness
• Thoughts that the baby/family is better off without you
• Loss of interest in things you used to enjoy
• Thoughts of harming oneself or baby
• Compulsively cleaning, counting, or checking things
• Isolation or desire for isolation
• Extreme need for constant help or inability to be alone
• Lack of desire to hold or interact with baby

For new dad’s, however, signs of PPND may appear differently. Men tend to mask their depressive symptoms, functioning well while hiding deep feelings of shame and anxiety. A new father might display symptoms PPND through anger, uncontrollable rage, deep feelings of insecurity, substance abuse or other inappropriate temptations, or withdrawal. New dads are the primary source of support for the new mom and baby, so it’s important to make sure he is getting proper support as well through this tender season of life.

Ask your doctor or healthcare provider for more information about postpartum depression and mood disorders to gain better understanding of your partner’s condition. Contact Ready Nest Counseling to empower your relationship through this challenge. New parents need to know they are not alone, and their relationship can come through this with deeper commitment and understanding. This season may feel overwhelming right now, but it is not futile. Parents can bring purpose to their story through healing and connection and can be able to enjoy this beautiful phase of life and all it has to offer.

Creating a Postpartum Care Plan

So often a mother will plan and plan for the birth of her baby that she forgets to think about what life will be like after baby gets here. You have your birth plan and your newborn care plan, but what about a postpartum care plan? Thinking over the basics of the first few months of the postpartum season can take away so much of the stress that comes with a newborn baby.

Sleep

How many hours of sleep do you need to feel your best? Since babies need to wake up during the night to be fed and changed, you will also be up with them. If you are not getting adequate sleep at night you need to be napping during the day in order to function. You will hear time and time again, “Sleep when baby sleeps!” For some moms this may seem impossible with guests coming in and out and thoughts of laundry and dishes piling up. Enlist the help of your partner, a family member or friend, or a postpartum doula to ease your mind and let you sleep during the day so that those night feedings don’t seem so daunting.

Feeding

How will you feed your baby? Are you wanting to breastfeed on demand or formula feed? Sometimes breastfeeding doesn’t go as planned and you may end up giving your baby bottles of pumped milk. You may even plan on having your partner feed your baby once or twice at night so you can sleep. However you decide to feed your baby, have tools and resources in place such as breastfeeding support groups, a breast pump, and bottles.

Meals

Every family is different. Talk with your partner and come up with a plan so that meals go smoothly after you bring baby home. Have a family member set up a meal train and coordinate meals with your family, friends, and community. Prepare freezer meals in the last weeks of your pregnancy to easily heat up and enjoy. Order food to be delivered from your favorite local restaurants. Hire a postpartum doula that can do some grocery shopping and prepare a meal for your while you and your partner rest and bond with your baby. Any and all of these options are good to consider and have on your postpartum care plan

Roles

Sit down with your partner and ask yourselves specific questions such as: Who will do the caring for the baby during the day? Who will do the cleaning? Who will do the cooking? Who will do the laundry? Who will be at home? Who will do the shopping? Who will run errands? Discussing these “roles” can clear up some confusion you may have once baby arrives. If you have always had the role of doing the laundry, that may be hard to continue once you are spending much of your day breastfeeding and holding your baby. Talk with your partner about what each of you can do to keep your house running in decent order with a new addition to the family.

Visitors

Having a new baby is hard. You will be tired and covered in milk. While the exhaustion and mess is so worth it, you need to think about who you are comfortable with coming into your home during this time. The first week or so you may wish to have only your closest family members and friends come to visit. However, as the weeks go on you may wish to have more not-so-close visitors that are wanting to see the baby and bring you a meal. If you have a meal train, you can set up a cooler by your front door so people can leave food without coming in. Go over your wishes with your partner so they can communicate this to whoever is wanting to come into your home in those first few weeks.

Relationship

A very important conversation for you and your partner to have before baby arrives is about your relationship. Ask yourselves what is most important to you. Talk about what might change about your relationship with a baby and what you wish would stay the same. If date night is important to you, then do your best to continue that. Just like sleeping or eating, your relationship with your partner is just as important to have a plan in place to make your postpartum journey a joyful and positive experience.

All in all, whether you are talking about meals or baby care expectations, having these discussions will set you up for a purposeful postpartum season. Check out our Postpartum Care Plan Template to make a plan for yourself!

Download: Postpartum Care Plan Postpartum Care Plan (1)

What is a Postpartum Doula?

You leave the hospital or birth center with more precious cargo than you arrived with. Your partner drives down the highway with their hands precisely at “ten and two” while averaging about 5 mph under the speed limit. You pull into the driveway, unload the car seat, and walk through your front door. Now what?

We want to share with you the invaluable benefits you receive when you decide to hire a postpartum doula.

Postpartum doulas fill in the gaps for new and even seasoned parents as they adjust to life with a new baby. Just like a labor doula, we are here for your physical, emotional, and informational needs. The difference is that we come after baby is born!

Postpartum Doulas are Your “Baby 411”

There are so many questions new parents are faced with that first week home. Is my baby sleeping too much? Shouldn’t my baby be sleeping more? Will we ever sleep again? You may be craving your favorite meal but are overwhelmed by the thought of cooking. Your partner may be wondering how they can help. You may still be processing your labor and birth- and that’s ok! A postpartum doula can support you through all of this and more.

We are experts in baby sleep techniques and baby calming techniques. We stay up to date on all types of parenting styles. We will support your wishes even if you are still discovering what your parenting style is! Postpartum doulas can educate you on anything pertaining to newborn care including umbilical cord care and bathing your baby.

Close up baby bathing on mothers hands

It Takes A Village

It is ingrained in us from family, friends, and our fast-paced American culture to “get back to life” as soon as possible after having a baby. As a culture, we miss a key element to the healing process and the important task of bonding with your baby (and let’s be honest – for some, bonding with your baby DOES feel like a “task” at first – and that’s ok). In many cultures, family members surround new mothers and take care of their every need in the weeks and months following the birth of their baby. As postpartum doulas, we seek to restore that element of family type support, truly becoming your “village” as you rest, heal, and bond with this precious new life.

What Does a Typical Day with a Postpartum Doula Look Like?

 Postpartum doulas help with breastfeeding, bottle feeding, and pumping. We can hold your baby while you shower, take a nap, or go on a short walk down the street. Postpartum doulas can tidy up around the house, throw in a load of laundry, or whip up a delicious meal for you while you bond with your baby. We can help you meal prep and fill your freezer with yummy easy meals to nourish your body for those first few weeks. Postpartum doulas can help your partner discover their role in all of this! We love helping dads tap into their abilities to soothe their babies too.

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Even if you are so sleep-deprived when your postpartum doula arrives that you don’t know what you need her help with, she will ask you a few questions, send you to bed, and start whipping things into shape! If need be, we even provide 24/7 care.

Postpartum Doulas Help You Grow Gracefully into Parenthood

All in all, we are here for your needs. Even if you just need an unbiased ear to listen while you process your birth story– we will be there for you. If you are new to the mommy scene and want recommendations for postpartum yoga, massage, or even play groups, we can find those resources for you. You are transitioning into new territory- parenthood! This is a fun and exciting time for you and your growing family! We want to help you transition as smoothly as possible. You should have an extraordinary first few moments and weeks with your new bundle of joy.

For a free consultation to learn more about hiring YOUR postpartum doula, contact us today! 

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