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World Doula Week Highlight: How Postpartum Doula Princess McKinney-Kirk is Transforming Postpartum Recovery

bintou Diarra | Editorial Lead | MS1: Alpert Medical School of Brown University | March 23, 2024

When it comes to the livelihoods of those she encounters, postpartum doula Princess McKinney-Kirk is all about making a lasting impact. In 2013, this passion culminated in a niche undertaking within the world of postpartum recovery. Through the postpartum belly wrap company Bellibind, Princess McKinney-Kirk is relinquishing the deeply entrenched notion that the postpartum period is about childcare, rather than recovery, for birthing people. We spoke with Princess McKinney-Kirk about her transformative work and the brand’s overarching mission and goals. 

Because many strategies exist for supporting people during the postpartum period, Founder Princess McKinney-Kirk wears many different hats. Similarly, her brainchild Bellibind holds an ever-evolving history regarding its modes of support. McKinney-Kirk initially launched the brand with the goal of assisting postpartum birthing people in their endeavors to “get their bodies back.” With several years of work and two pregnancies came an epiphany—there is a deeper societal, cultural, and personal need for honoring the bodies of postpartum birthing people as divine. This triggered a shift in the mission and strategy of the brand, and this powerful realization continues to shape Princess McKinney-Kirk and her team’s work.

Based on the Malaysian bengkung belly bind tradition, the brand provides postpartum birthing people with custom-fitted fabric, with the option for support with belly binding. The bengkung belly bind involves intricately wrapping a long strip of cloth around the abdomen and hips. This method of wrapping provides support and compression to the abdominal muscles and the pelvis to assist the natural process of uterus contraction in the postpartum period. At its core, the story of what brought McKinney-Kirk to the practice of belly binding is in line with what brought her to the world of birth work overall—what she calls “a series of divine synchro-Destiny events” within her life’s journey. “I felt a strong pull towards birthwork because of my deep desire to be in alignment with my God-given purpose here on earth.”

This strong desire breeds an overarching mission and goals that gave rise to several roles—healer, lover, mother, and businesswoman. Ultimately, McKinney-Kirk wants to actively enhance the lives of women and birthing people, and she will not stop at the bare minimum. “It’s not just about fleeting moments. It’s about leaving a legacy of wellness and support for postpartum mothers that sparks real, transformative growth. I want every interaction to be a catalyst for positive change, both in the present and for generations to come.”

The Bellibind brand is revolutionizing the postpartum experience in more ways than one. “At Bellibind, we’re all about radically enhancing post-birth recovery for new moms and birthing folks,” says McKinney-Kirk. “Bellibind fills a unique vision by providing postpartum mothers with holistic support and wellness solutions. We focus on nurturing not just the physical recovery, but also the emotional and spiritual well-being of mothers during this crucial time. Our big goal is to help tackle postpartum depression in America by making postpartum recovery a priority across the country.” Through unique strategies such as their outlined roadmap called the “3 Rs” method, the brand facilitates the post-birth healing journey in a tailored way.

Among the brand’s offerings are the virtual wrap kits and product line. Bellibind’s wrap kits provide support to the abdominal muscles, which helps to reduce swelling, promote healing, and restore strength to the core. Additionally, they offer a comforting embrace that can help mothers feel more secure and grounded during a vulnerable time.

During our interview, McKinney-Kirk expressed the benefits of this option during a time that is usually characterized by great change and uncertainty. The virtual wrap kits are best-suited for people who want to explore the belly binding practice, but want the flexibility of doing it on their own time, within the comfort of their own space. The kits include Bellibind’s cotton Bellibind wrap, their Shine Belly and Binding Oil, a pair of socks, a sugar scrub, and their Spritz hydrating aromatherapy facial mist. Additionally, every wrap kit includes instructional videos to guide people through the wrapping process and the option to book a video call with one of Bellibind’s wrap experts. Princess McKinney-Kirk is heightening the accessibility of postpartum support by delivering it right to people’s doorsteps.

There’s a lot in store for Bellibind, a bulk of which we will explore during Princess McKinney-Kirk’s book tour stop at our very own Soft Space this spring. In the meantime, Bellibind is gearing up to embrace a journey of growth and expansion—an expansion that will include the growth of the team. “As we continue to innovate and evolve, our goal is to reach a wider audience and make our products and services accessible to all who can benefit from them. We’re also exploring partnerships and collaborations that align with our values, furthering our impact and influence in the realm of postpartum wellness.”

Read more about Bellibind.

Read more about Princess McKinney-Kirk’s book.

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