By Jacki May, Contributing Writer
Our first daughter was born in a hospital in Boeblingen, Germany. As I walked to my labor room, I saw this piece of fabric hanging from the ceiling. I couldn’t figure out for the life of me what it was (after all, it wasn’t covered in my childbirth education classes). Needless to say, I didn’t use it.
Flash forward to today, 4 babies later and working as a doula, I have come to be quite fond of this piece of fabric…a rebozo.
A rebozo is a Mexican shawl, traditionally used by Mexican midwives during labor and then used by mothers to carry their babies. There are varying lengths of rebozos but many sold today have a 9 foot length. They are about 22 inches wide and come in just beautiful patterns.
In my doula bag, I carry a short rebozo and a BB Slen woven wrap. While not a traditional rebozo, many moms may find themselves with a woven wrap and I love showing them how to use it during labor. The energy carries with the wrap as it moves from labor tool to carrying baby. What a beautiful thing!
Without further ado….
5 Ways to Use a Rebozo During Labor
As Belly Support
To use the rebozo in this fashion, ensure the edge of the rebozo is under the belly. Cross the rebozo in the back (don’t twist the straps) and then place over the shoulder so that mom can grab them. Mom can then slightly pull on the straps to give a little support to her belly. Adding a sway can be nice in between contractions.
Double Hip Squeeze
A favorite amongst mothers and doulas alike, the double hip squeeze is a wonderful technique for counter pressure on the back. It can be tiring when using just your arms and hands, so bringing in a rebozo is a nice way to support the mother. In the last two weeks both moms I have worked with absolutely loved this! I even had a dad jump up during a childbirth education class so he could practice (how awesome is that!).
To do this, gather the rebozo under the belly, around the hips, and pull in opposite directions (pull strap in left hand to the right side and vice versa). You can then add a twist to keep it tight and add more counter pressure on the back.
This is great to use during contractions but it is for use anytime. The mom pictured is supporting herself on a birth ball, but you can also do this when on hands and knees (my favorite position when I first got into the birth tub with our 4th daughter).
To do this: spread the rebozo over the belly and slightly pull up. Begin gently rocking, or sifting, back and forth.
While initially this looks odd, it is very relaxing. In the picture I am behind the mom, but you could also be in front of the mom. The mom could be resting on hand and knees, supported on a birth ball, or, like the picture above, resting on her forearms.
To do this: drape the rebozo over her bottom and grab and the outside of the hips. You will then “shake” her hips by moving your hands forward and back. This is quicker than sifting and is wonderful during a contraction to help her to be loose and limp.
Pushing can be a very tiring point during labor, and moms who have had babies know, there is the right muscles to use for efficient pushing (efficient pushing makes us sound like machines but there is a huge difference in muscle use!). Above you see me picture sitting directly in front of the mom, which may or may not be possible to your pushing phase BUT you can also attach the rebozo to a squat bar or a “ladder” (we have them in labor rooms here in Belgium).
To do this (mom): Hold the rebozo in the center of your body (see picture above) and pull. You could also hold all the fabric in one bunch, like playing tug of war. However you choose to hold it, the center is ideal.
Moms, if you have had a baby, try this out! You will immediately recognize how it is using the “right” muscles.
Expecting moms, practice this before hand to get a sense of what muscles you will want to be using. But just a little until you are actually pushing.
So there you have it, 5 ways to use a rebozo during labor. Some of these are great during late pregnancy to offer support, like the belly support and double hip squeeze. If you want to use the rebozo during labor, start practicing! It will help you be familiar with the positions and, if your husband is your birth support, they will be familiar with them as well.