If you’re a birthworker, you will no doubt have heard of the rebozo, this mystical scarf that can be used to support women in all sorts of ways during pregnancy, labour and birth.
What is a rebozo? It is a traditional Mexican shawl/scarf that women use for all sorts of purposes: to keep warm, to carry loads, to be supported with during pregnancy and birth, and to carry their babies. I’m going to keep calling it a rebozo because this is the most known term in the birth world, but it is much more universal than that. In Ecuador it is called a Manta, and I have found accounts of cloths used all around the world for similar purposes. Often they don’t even have a name. People just use whatever fabric they happen to have.
So, what can you do with a rebozo?
First and foremost, the rebozo can be used to support and promote relaxation. By wrapping the fabric around someone’s body and using it to provide a rocking motion, we are tapping into the most primal rhythm we experienced in the womb, gently rocked by our mother’s hips swaying, by her breathing rhythm, by the beat of her heart. Rocking is universally soothing to all ages.
During pregnancy, a simple sifting (rocking movement) of the back/shoulders, hips or bump can provide a wonderful and easy relaxation for the mother. It works in a manner similar to a progressive muscular relaxation, only it is more powerful because someone is doing it for you. Another reason is it so efficient is that it is impossible to remain tense whilst you are being jostled. When you are heavily pregnant and feeling tired and achy, it is simply wonderful to have someone wrap a rebozo around your bump whilst you are on your hands and knees, and gently lift the weight of the bump off your spine, then gently rock your bump. Similarly, having your hips gently rocked is also deeply soothing and relaxing at the end of a long day.
It is easy to do and the woman’s partner can learn to do this in a few minutes, and can then do it regularly, which is an awesome way of connecting and relaxing and preparing for the birth together. At the end of the pregnancy, when the mother is impatient of waiting for labour to start, it can work wonders in helping her feel more patient and relaxed as she waits for her baby to arrive.
You can also use a rebozo to support your hips before and during pregnancy.
The rebozo can also be used in pregnancy or during labour to help a baby get into an optimal position for labour. By rocking the bump in a hands and knees position, the rebozo can help relax tight ligaments and achieve a more balanced uterus, as well as helping gravity to move baby in an anterior position (see http://spinningbabies.com/learn-more/techniques/the-fantastic-four/rebozo-sifting/ and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26255805)
During labour there are many ways a woman can use a rebozo to provide comfort. The mother can knot it and stick it in a door frame for something to pull on, she can use it to cover the windows, cover the hospital bed or equipment and make the room more homely, she can cover her ears or eyes with it to provide a dark, private cocoon. Her birth partners can use it to provide gentle rocking or vibrations on her body, wherever it feels good, for example around her thighs, hips, back, bump etc, to soothe and relax her both during and between contractions, or to provide counter pressure on her hips or lower back.
I offer “mindful rebozo” workshops in Cambridge for doulas and birthworkers. I am also happy to travel and run the workshop in your area. See dates of future workshops here and get in touch if you would like to organise one near you.