Postnatal jamu massage
Giving birth to two babies in less than two years left me with a serious muffin top, so I decided to try to do something about it. Mummies & Bellies offers a jamu massage and belly binding service at your home, promising a range of benefits, particularly toning the abdominal area. Jamu is traditional Indonesian medicine that employs a variety of tropical herbs.
I approached this therapy with a no-pain, no-gain attitude so I was pleased to discover that more than half of the treatment is devoted to a top-to-bottom body massage with special home-made oil to detoxify, improve blood and lymph circulation, combat water retention and rejuvenate tired new mums. The massage is performed on a massage bed that the therapist brings to your home.
The treatment can get quite vigorous, but I found myself less tired than usual in the evening. After about an hour of body massage, the masseuse does a gentler version on the abdomen, which is very relaxing and pleasant, before the jamu herbs are applied.
Then comes the less pleasant part. Cloths are placed over the jamu ointment on the stomach and a bodice is tied tight. Then, the masseuse wraps a benkung (an eight-metre-long strip of cloth) firmly around the waist and pelvis. Since I had had a Caesarean section, care was taken not to pull too tightly around my bikini line. The wrap is to be worn for at least six hours on at least five consecutive days.
After day one, on which I wore the benkung for just the requisite six hours, I saw a dramatic firming of my slack belly. After day three, when I wore the wrap for 10 hours, my belly was visibly flatter. The next two days saw more small improvements. On the final day, the masseuse uses the client's own belly belt - or one can be purchased from her - after the massage.
Ideally, one must wear the belly belt as much as possible after the therapy to sustain and improve on the results, and clients are encouraged to stick to healthy dietary practices such as avoiding rice in the evenings.
The advantage of investing time, money and effort in the treatment is that it ensures adherence to the regime, which might not be true if one simply bought a belly belt. Also, tying the benkung, which brings additional results, is definitely a skill. Wearing the binder for a long stretch was less uncomfortable than I anticipated, but it is certainly tight. Although I also found positioning my baby during breastfeeding a little challenging, it was manageable for five days.
Verdict: Overall, the treatment provided a good head start, which I suspect I would have taken a month or more to achieve in the gym. My buttocks were also firmer after the massage. The wrap can also help shrink the pelvis, which expands during labour, and correct posture.
Mummies & Bellies' Postnatal Jamu Massage is HK$4,750 for the five-day package. Tel: 60219661. mummiesbellies.com