A popular traditional Malay-Indonesian postnatal treatment is Bengkung. It’s the last and essential step of a Jamu Postnatal Massage session (or of a Urut Bersalin Malay Postnatal Massage) and it’s what’s called Postnatal Abdominal Binding or Wrapping. Less formally, Bengkung is simply called Belly Wrapping or Tummy Wrapping.
Abdominal Binding Procedure
After a Jamu Massage session the abdomen and pelvic area are wrapped tightly with a special traditional Indonesian cotton binding cloth (from six to fifteen meters long and about fifteen to twenty centimeters wide), with the goal to reduce swelling in the abdominal area, reduce water retention, shrink back the area to the pre-pregancy state, and support the back.
To properly bind the Bengkung a highly skilled massage therapist is needed. The wrap should be worn at least six to ten hours a day for effective results — more time is possible, even sleeping with it. Because Jamu is not a one-time massage but a complete treatment covering a number of days, the binding also is done each time after the massages. Typically, just before the actual binding, Jamu Tapel herbs or ginger creams are applied on the abdominal area. Note: Tapel herbs are applied on the abdominal area to help realigning, firm and tighten the abdominal muscles but also to expel excessive winds in the body.
The wrapping starts from the woman’s lower hip and goes up to middle part of the body to under the breast. Mind that the Bengkung is also done by Malay and Indonesian women who just want to keep their posture well, and that’s why it’s sometimes called the Slimming Wrap, which is then worn under traditional clothing.
Although a traditional technique, Bengkung is still widely used in both Malaysia and Indonesia by almost all women that have given birth. Binding can be done after both normal and C-section deliveries (caesarean delivery). On the Indonesian island Java, the Bengkung cloth is typically called Stagen, which is usually handmade by women.
Abdominal Binding Health Benefits
Bengkung helps to expel out and prevent wind from entering the body. It furthermore reduces/shrinks back the abdomen and tightens up the stomach/abdominal muscles while supporting and straightening the back/spine. Moreover, it helps getting or lifting the uterus back in its natural position and aiding the uterus to shrink back to the pre-pregnancy size, a process called involution.
In general, it also helps supporting and realigning the pelvic organs including the muscles of the pelvic area. Usually after delivery, women use Bengkung until the end of the postpartum period (40 – 42 days) but it can be used as long as one finds necessary.