Using a Rebozo in Pregnancy and Birth for Comfort and Promoting Progress

Using a rebozo in labor
Photo © Wendy Scharp Www.mothertreebirth.com

There are many tools that a woman can use during her pregnancy, labor, and birth that can help with discomfort and help the labor to move along. Every woman will find the things that work well for her at different points in her labor, but one thing to consider packing in your birth bag and bringing along to your birth is a rebozo (ree-bo-zo.) Rebozo is a Spanish word that translates to “shawl,” and represents the traditional scarf worn on the head and shoulders of Mexican women.

The standard rebozo is a woven, (frequently handwoven) fabric approximately 80 inches long and 27 inches wide, made of cotton, light wool or mixed with synthetic fiber. You may find that you already have something around the house that can serve as a rebozo, and certainly, a twin flat sheet works in a pinch, which the hospital certainly has plenty of. Larger women or very tall women may appreciate a rebozo that is a bit longer.

Pregnancy

You can use the rebozo to help during pregnancy by folding the rebozo long ways and wrapping it very tightly under your belly and around the hips. Women enjoy the support and stability that this tightly wrapped rebozo offers, and feel that it helps with counteracting the hormone relaxin which causes your joints and ligaments to loosen in preparation for labor and birth. This support can relieve lower back pain and soreness.

You can also place a hot or cold pack in the small of your back or under your belly, and secure it in place by using the rebozo.

Then you have flexibility to move around and continue with your day (or sleep/night) without having to hold the pack in place.

Labor

The rebozo can make it easier for you to squat in labor, and conserves some of your energy for things to come. The rebozo wraps around your back and is counterbalanced in the front by the support person.

Squatting helps move the baby down and opens the pelvis.

You can tie a knot in one end of the rebozo and throw the knotted end over the top of the door, closing the door tightly. Then you can hang off of the rebozo and dangle, remaining upright so that gravity can help while keeping her pelvis loose. Another use for the rebozo is to “sift” the mother in labor. You assume the hands and knees position and the rebozo is placed around your belly. Two support people each grab one end, holding it up at their waist level and jiggle the belly by sifting back and forth. This helps with a baby that may need a little position adjustment.

Birth

The rebozo can be used to play “tug of war” with a partner or support person during the pushing stage, with you holding on to two ends and your partner holding the rebozo in the middle, and offering resistance as you tug on the rebozo to help direct your pushes down and move the baby out. This is a great technique to use even if you are laboring with an epidural, as it really helps focus the pushing efforts.

Postpartum

After having a baby, you may find it comfortable to wear a bellyband or other support to hold your postpartum belly “together” while your body slowly returns to its pre-pregnancy state. The rebozo is the perfect tool to for this. If you are interested in wearing your baby, you can use the rebozo to carry your newborn high on your chest, hands-free, as women have done for hundreds of years in cultures around the world.

There are many websites and YouTube videos that offer demonstrations and information on how you can use a rebozo during labor and birth. It is helpful to practice some of these positions in advance of using them so you are comfortable and have given them a “test drive.” You can also ask your doula, childbirth educator or prenatal yoga instructor for some additional tips that they may have for rebozo uses.

Having lots of tools at your disposal can help promote your labor and provide comfort and pain relief. Using a rebozo in labor is just one of many tools you might want to bring along.

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