Throughout my pregnancy I gained almost all of my weight exclusively in my stomach. Most people commented on how big my belly got, even going so far as to guess (incorrectly) that I was having a boy because of my pointy shape. In total I gained about 40 lbs. I wish I could say that the weight just fell off after I gave birth, but I had an equally pointy belly after delivery as I did before giving birth – except after, it was jiggly.
The women in my family always talked about the importance of wrapping your stomach after giving birth, but what they didn’t mention was how hard that would be considering I still looked to be about 6 months pregnant. So I decided to try bengkung postpartum massages. An Indonesian therapist came highly recommended from a friend of mine and the best part was that she came directly to my house. She performed a bengkung wrap which I believe is a traditional Malaysian technique. Using just ginger cream and olive oil, the massage actually focused on my entire body with an emphasis at the end on my stomach. It involved lots of pulling and pushing of my stomach muscles to pull everything back to the middle. The ginger cream was incredibly strong and felt more like icy hot than anything else, but I felt so much better after each session. In total I had seven 1-hour sessions for $580 SGD in total. It seemed like a lot of money when I was considering it, but can I really put a price on my well being?
Benefits of Bengkung Massage and Wrap
- Helps shrink the uterus to its pre-pregnancy size
- Tones the stretched skin
- Speeds the recovery process
- Stimulates milk production
- Reduction of postpartum depression
- Relieves constipation and helps remove blood clots
- Helps eliminate toxins and excess gas
After each session I had to wear the wrap for at least 6 hours and I was bound in two different cloths. Both had zero stretch, so at the end of the day I was more than ready to take it off. I think this would have been much easier to handle in a cooler climate, but with all of the wrappings I was pretty uncomfortable after only an hour or so.
But, did it work?
Absolutely. I felt more like myself after each session. It was incredible how it really did help me to get rid of excess fluids and pulled everything together. Is my stomach back to its pre-pregnancy shape…not yet. But I feel like once I can actually do some abdominal exercises I won’t have such a hard time getting myself to snap back. More than anything it helped tremendously with my mental state. Not being able to exercise when I’m used to working out five days a week was awful. The wrap was essentially the only thing I could actually do while my body recovered from childbirth. I truly felt so much better with each massage and wrap. I will say that I think eventually my body would have eliminated waste and returned to its original state on its own, but this definitely helped speed up the process. The only thing I didn’t love about it was being separated from my newborn baby each day for an hour. With breastfeeding on demand it was almost impossible to do. And the only benefit listed which I can confidently say it did not help with was my milk production. However, I think the other benefits really did come as a result of the wrap and I’m glad I did it.