When I started working as a doula, the majority of births I attended (those of first time mothers in particular) were long and protracted, and often ended in obstetric interventions such as forceps or caesareans. I grew frustrated because the interventions proposed compounded the problem (how exactly was lying on your back with an epidural going to help a malpositioned baby rotate?). This is what led me to learn about rebozo techniques. I attended my first workshop 10 years ago and, being the knowledge junkie that I am, I’ve trained with over 10 different professionals since, most recently with Mexican midwife Naoli Vinaver.
Rebozo techniques were developed at a time where obstetric interventions didn’t exist, to support change when labour took too long, or when a baby was in a less than optimal position.
Rebozo techniques are used to jiggle and rock the body of the mother during pregnancy or labour. They work on a physical, emotional and spiritual level. Physically they soften muscles, ligaments and fascia. This helps the mother manage labour sensations more comfortably, helps the body to be more balanced and open, as well as support the baby and the mother navigate the birth better together. Emotionally the rebozo techniques provide a much needed sensation of holding and support, as well as helping the mother release stuck energy/emotions that may impact labour progress. Naoli Vinaver talks about “ turning cold stagnant energy into hot flowing energy”.
As soon as I started incorporating a combination of rebozo and position techniques during pregnancy and births, I saw miracles happen. Babies rotated in a more optimal position during pregnancy, often within just one session. Before I saw labours happen slowly, babies turn OP and maternity professionals being adamant that an epidural was needed to prevent the early urge to push Now, a short jiggle of the rebozo on the buttocks, combined with an inversion or open knee chest position, would often change the nature of the contractions so fast that babies were born before any obstetric intervention could be used. I saw women go from a 6cm stall in labour, to birthing their babies within an hour or two.
The most beautiful aspect of using the rebozo is that it was easy, that it helped labour feel more comfortable and helped partners feel more confident and supportive too. I saw so many fathers going from being anxious to becoming confident, relaxed and present once they got busy gently rocking a labouring woman’s hips. On several occasions, using a rebozo has prevented a hospital transfer from home or the birth centre, and led to a beautiful empowering birth.
I soon felt compelled to pass on these skills, because what I kept witnessing was just too amazing to keep to myself, and also because people kept asking me to teach it. I started teaching workshops in 2016 and an online course in 2018. I have trained several hundred professionals and parents since.
The one thing that was missing for me was being able to understand why these rebozo techniques helped so much. None of that information was provided by the people I trained with. I have an insatiable need to know.
Luckily I met Cambridge osteopath Teddy Brookes, and did all the techniques on him many times as I was gathering material for teaching, so that I could provide my students with an anatomical explanation of what each technique did to the various joints and organs, and I provide this information to my students.
My thirst for knowledge is insatiable and I’m always keen to learn more. When I attended Naoli Vinaver’s training, I met Shellie Poulter, who is both a doula and trained osteopath. Shellie runs trainings on birth biomechanics. I am deeply grateful to have met her, because I get to enrich my own knowledge, and also share this with you. Shellie and I are teaming up to pool our knowledge in a webinar called Biomechanics of rebozo techniques for birth, where Shellie will explain live why each rebozo technique helps the baby navigate the pelvis more easily.
This webinar is taking place on Monday the 24th of April at 8pm London time. It is free to attend, and you can register here.