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Postpartum Recovery & Stomach Binding: A New Mother’s Review

Stomach Binding new mother
PostnatalPost Category - PostnatalPostnatal

What to expect from FH Postpartum Body Remodel

It is hard to describe that post-birth feeling – a mixture of pride, relief, panic, and pain – that soon gives way to more concrete concerns about keeping a tiny human alive, and of course, questions about your own recovery. After having my second child I knew that I wouldn’t “bounce back” to my old self without a lot of hard work over quite a few months – hard work that I kind of half-assed after my first pregnancy so really, this time, I am aiming to get back to my pre-pre-pregnancy self. I had never heard of stomach binding before coming to Hong Kong but quickly realised it was something that a lot of moms were doing, and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to start my postpartum recovery with an option that was possibly low pain and high gain.

Throughout Asia, women have relied on abdominal wrapping – in the Philippines, for example, women’s midsections are wrapped like a mummy following childbirth, in Indonesia herbal massages are followed up with corset-like bindings – to provide both physical support and to speed up recovery (including encouraging the shrinking of the uterus and helping organs to get back to their original placement). I tried out the programme at FH Remodel and was treated by the owner, Flora, where she uses a long strip of fabric to create a binding secured by knots, or rather twists, in the fabric.

Stomach binding

What to Consider

Cost: High. At FH Remodel, the full-body reshape treatment (90 minutes a day for 10 business days) costs $35,000. A 60 minute option is also available for $25,000. It focuses on reshaping the chest bone, waist and pelvic bone.

Time Commitment: High. This isn’t something you can do on a whim. My programme consisted of one-hour-30-minutes appointments, five days a week for two weeks. It was suggested to do a third week, but I couldn’t manage it. For the first appointment, I brought my one month old, but it wasn’t the relaxing experience I was hoping for. As soon as I got undressed, she woke up screaming and everything felt pretty stressful while I tried to feed her and get wrapped. I would strongly suggest that you make sure you have someone who can help with your baby at the appointment or who will allow you to leave the baby at home. FH Remodel also offers home visits but notes most clients end up wanting to come in to get out of the house!

Comfort Level: Each appointment was relaxing and soothing. The actual process of being bound wasn’t uncomfortable (save for catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror and sweating a bit) but being bound for eight hours a day was difficult. Not only is it hard to walk (in addition to having restricted movement, it felt like I had run a marathon after only a few steps), I found it tricky to breast feed comfortably. Also, the binding ends up looking lumpy under clothing so if you have any big plans during your scheduled binding time, perhaps reconsider your timing. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the binding didn’t make me overly hot, even though I did this in the height of summer.

When to Start: Binding at FH Remodel can be done starting from six or eight weeks, depending on your delivery. Some places start immediately after birth. Flora suggests that clients who plan on losing a lot of weight come after they’ve gotten closer to their goal weight. The binding process works best when the wrapping is as close to the bone as possible. She has successfully treated women up to 10 years after they’ve given birth.

Stomach binding

What to Expect

You’ll have a pre-programme consultation with Flora to finalise your schedule and go through the treatment plan. On the first day you can have “before” photos taken, which I would actually recommend, even though it is scary/traumatic. I had been telling myself things weren’t too bad but that photo made me realise I barely recognised myself! It gave me the motivation to not only diligently stick to the eight hours of binding, but to also clean up my diet and plan out a return to the gym.

After your photo, you get right to it. Here are the steps that were performed during most appointments. The treatments, expect for the binding, are performed while laying down on a massage table. All of the oils and the candles are organic. Flora’s treatments do not include any of the herbs found in treatments that are based on the Indonesian Jamu massage.

Step 1: Stomach treatment
The therapist will first do navel candling, combined with abdominal massage, which is intended to help loosen things up and relieve any bloat, gas, and constipation you might be experiencing.

Step 2: Medical grade far infrared machine
This ended up being surprisingly nice. An unassuming arch is placed over your midsection and towels are placed over it. The combo creates a mini sauna and you are left to relax while you sweat it out. It instantly put me to sleep and I loved being able to take a mini nap. In Chinese culture it is important for mothers to stay warm after giving birth and this helps raise the body temperature.

Step 3: Tailored massage therapy
The best part! In my case, 2 or 3 of the visits focused on a tailored massage that focused on lymphatic drainage and blood circulation. In some cases it might be integrated into each visit.

Step 4: Binding
A strip of fabric is then wrapped around the body starting from pelvic bone and up to the chest bone. Flora started out with a looser binding and then progressively made them tighter each day so I could get used to the binding. You then stay wrapped for eight hours. Keep in mind that you will have unwrap yourself each night and roll up the fabric and bring it back the next day. For me, rolling up the fabric was an additional 10-15 minutes a day and a bit of a pain.

The entire process takes about 90 minutes.

stomach binding before and after

The Verdict

It worked! I’ll spare you my own photos but after completing 9 days (one of the days in the two weeks was a holiday), my stomach separation went from 2.5 fingers to 1 finger, I lost 1 inch from my rib cage, 1.5 inches from my waist and 0.5 inch from my hips. I also have better posture. In the after photos, particularly from the side, I can really see a difference in my appearance. Granted it wasn’t a miracle transformation – mama has some weight to lose and this process can’t really help with that – but it was a real change and a great starting point for getting back to “normal”. The most surprising part was that it helped so much with my stomach separation.

I was very nervous about the time commitment but in the end, it helped to add some structure to my days with a newborn. I had a real reason to get out of the house and to take some time to myself, once I was able to coordinate my older daughter’s schedule, so my helper could watch them both. I would definitely suggest this treatment, especially if you have major stomach separation. If you are still on the fence – understandable between the cost and time commitment – I would suggest scheduling a consultation to get an honest assessment if the treatment and timing is right for you. The thing that would make me do it again is that because the inches lost weren’t due to weight loss, but rather the movement of bones, the changes are permanent, according to Flora. I can’t think of other ways that I could lose inches so quickly and efficiently and for a time strapped mom, that might just be priceless.

Sassy Mama Perk

Sassy Mama readers will receive 20% off all treatments booked on or before 31 August 2018. A deposit is required but the treatment can take place after August.

 

FH Postpartum Body Remodel, 6 Wilmer Street, Suite 1101, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong, 852 6017 7299, Whats App: 852 5229 0339, www.fhremodelhk.com, English website coming soon.

Featured image courtesy of Getty. All other images are courtesy of FH Postpartum Body Remodel.

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