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Don't Laugh, These New Moms Love to Be Swaddled

Photograph by Instagram

Good news abounds if you've ever looked at a bundled-up newborn and felt a pang of envy at their swathed, peaceful joy.

While the Danes are currently spreading the much buzzed-about concept of hygge—in which coziness is encouraged via warm drinks, ambient lighting, hugs, and snuggly clothing to create a kind of personal sanctuary—over in Japan a different kind of contentment therapy is now available.

Otonamaki.

For moms recovering from child birth, otonamaki or, literally, "adult wrapping" is starting to pick up steam. Some women are choosing to be swaddled in cloths and in various poses, and then swung back and forth to relieve stress for 20-minute sessions.

According to the BBC, otonamaki can "alleviate posture problems and stiffness." The technique is also said to be a type of mental therapy or efficient relaxation technique that creates a sense of security akin to being back in the womb.

However, as similar as it sounds to being swaddled and rocked like a baby, otonamaki for moms is different in one key way: their heads are wrapped, too. (A definite no-no for little ones). So, while the images of women wrapped like a burrito or a tied up in a sack could trigger panic or claustrophobia attacks, those who've done it say, "It's the opposite of that." They told BBC reporters that they felt improvements in their shoulders and back after just one session.

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"The reason why otonamaki was invented was because some people were worried about babies struggling or feeling claustrophobic while being wrapped up," Orie Matsuo of Kyoko Proportion, a company that offers otonamaki, told the BBC. "We thought if adults were rolled up like them, they could experience how good it feels."

And a therapy was born.

The Kyoto-based professor and midwife who developed otonamaki, Nobuko Wanatabe, also created something called Toco Chan, which is a popular maternity belt in Japan. Otonamaki was first introduced two years ago to great acclaim by some who see it as an an alternative to physical therapy and massage to be used postpartum but pre-exercise.

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Still, it hasn't become rote quite yet for postpartum women, although a popular television program recently demonstrated how it works, which has piqued more interest.

At the same time, some experts are warning that though it may offer short-term relief, otonamaki could ultimately lead to increased muscle strain. People with existing medical issues, including back problems, are advised to speak to an actual doctor before partaking.

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