Bengkung Wrap – I offer my doula clients a bengkung wrap if they would like. It’s a very long piece of fabric wrapped around the torso to hold the torso firm and give support to the uterus. I found this interesting website and decided to share. Here is one part (the benefits). The rest will be on the website.
There’s no denying that the confinement period is a bittersweet experience for new mothers in the Malay community. The traditional Malay pantang, which lasts for 44 days, is considered a test of patience. However, many do it willingly and diligently. The reason? They believe these postnatal practices can help them regain their pre-baby figure, health and energy, as well as help them stay attractive and alluring.
There are several pantang practices that are still widely practised today, but it is the bengkung or traditional wrap (also known as a traditional girdle or even corset) that is the cornerstone of the confinement period.
Where do I get the bengkung?
It used to be that mums sewed it for their pregnant daughters. Today, busy mums-to-be can buy the bengkung from Malay traditional wellness shops or even order it off the Internet.
There are three types of bengkung:
- Bengkung barut, or the bandage bengkung, is similar to the traditional cloth carrier for children. It has a left and a right string which are tied together.
- Bengkung Mia is a corset-style cloth with criss-crossed ties.
- Bengkung Java, or entwining bengkung, is a broad piece of cloth (about 15m long) wrapped around the torso.
How do I wear the bengkung?
It is important to choose a good-quality bengkung that won’t unravel or come loose in the course of the day. It should be worn at all times, day and night (though some mums say they could only stand to wear them for a few hours a day).
The correct way to put it on is to start at the bottom, working your way up to cover your torso and tying it off just under the breast.
Datin Sharifah Anisah Barakbah, founder Nona Roguy (now NR) and author of the book Ensiklopedia Perbidanan Melayu (Encyclopaedia of Malay Midwifery), cautions that a bengkung that is too short or not wrapped properly is widely believed to hinder the recovery of the uterus.
Bengkung is not usually worn on its own.
- Medicinal leaves such as galangal or pandan are laid out on a rag cloth which is then placed over the wrap to maintain cleanliness.
- The bengkung is then put on after traditional oil, herbs and spices have been rubbed onto the abdomen and the back.
- For women who cannot get the fresh ingredients, the alternative is bengkung creams sold at traditional wellness shops.
What are the benefits of bengkung?
Tradition dictates that pregnancy and birth affect a woman’s entire well-being. According to traditional beliefs, “a woman’s body and all muscle, bone, nerves, joints and other organs have changed and grown and become swollen due to the hormonal influence of pregnancy,” says Datin Sharifah. “Bengkung can flatten the stomach, shrink the uterus and tighten the vagina.”
It is also widely believed that the traditional wrap can also help:
- flatten the tummy, reduce weight and tone the body;
- protect the internal organs as well as help swollen organs return to their pre-baby state;
- tighten the abdomen and other parts of the body that have sagged or lost their muscle tone after childbirth;
- promote good posture that will aid in breastfeeding;
- break down fat and cellulite;
- prevent overeating.
Strictly speaking, just wearing the bengkung is not enough. Other practices such as postnatal massage, hot compress and having herbal baths complete the confinement regime. Done correctly, they are said to help new mums to get back in shape, as well as balance their hormone levels.