Why a shawl or scarf might be the most powerful tool in your tool box
Over the last 8 years, since I started my reconversion in the world of science to that of a birthworker, the one tool that has amazed me the most is the humble shawl or scarf.
You might know it foremost as a rebozo, which is a Mexican shawl, traditionally used by Mexican midwives to provide comfort and support to pregnant and birthing mothers.
But to me, it’s much more universal than that.
All through history, women have traditionally used shawls and scarves for all sort of purposes, from clothing to carrying and indeed providing comfort, but not just for the childbearing year.
Lately I have felt a drive, actually a real sense of duty, to pass on this skill.
This is because I have been having one amazing experience after the other using shawls of scarves.
“Recently, I supported an amazing woman through a very long birth at home, which also happened to be a VBAC. She laboured for 4 whole days. Through the early parts of her labour, I used my trusted rebozo scarf to relax her belly and help engage her baby. On the last day, when she got the dreaded “stuck at 6cm” situation (her cervix seemed to remain dilated at 6cm for several hours, with no further progress), a simple inversion with sifting on the buttocks through a few contractions, completely changed the pattern of her contractions for the better. In fact, when she got back her from her inversion, she said “My back doesn’t hurt anymore”, the midwife confirmed shortly afterwards that her baby had turned in a more optimal position, and she roared her baby out in the pool a few hours later. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room when that baby was born. I have no doubt that the rebozo technique made a big difference to her labour progress.”
I had heard of amazing stories like this one at the various rebozo and Spinning Babies trainings I had attended, but this was the first time I had my own experience of a miraculous difference like this, and it really drove the message home.
Since I starting showing families how to use a shawl or scarf for their own comfort, I have received many more testimonials of the same nature.
Jess used a shawl to great use to comfort herself during labour
” I was in labour recently, homebirth, my husband squeezing my hips was helping so much to keep me grounded. At one point our younger son woke up, this was late at night, and my husband had to go to him to settle him. Right at the same time I had a massive contraction while I was bouncing away on the ball and desperately thought, “OMG, I need pressure on my hips now!” I also happened to be sitting next to a box of wraps, so I grabbed one out and did the hip squeeze on myself. It was super helpful and really empowering at that point to remember I had so many tools in my tool kit to draw on and I totally could rock this birth”
Recently, after sending a rebozo to a mum who suffered from PGP, I got the following message the next day ” It’s the second time I’ve had pgp. I was induced early because it was so bad and this time is even worse! Your videos were the first time I had ever heard of rebozo or using the shawls to wrap your hips and thought that anything was worth a try as I am in such horrendous pain. Since using the wrap I have been able to do shopping and walk around without crying in pain, it makes a huge difference, so easy to use, looks pretty and I love that I can use it during labour and after the birth as a sling!” Hannah
I also offer and teach a postnatal ritual called closing the bones, which involves some hip rocking with a rebozo shawl (or a manta as it is called in Ecuador, which is where this particular massage comes from) a massage of the abdomen and wrapping. The experiences women have with this ritual can be life changing.
Here are some examples of what women have said after receiving it:
“The massage felt incredibly calming and nurturing and I felt very relaxed (almost went to sleep!) I felt a lot of tension which I was holding from the birth just disappear. “
“Amazing, emotional and cleansing. I feel very supported as a new mum and feel hugged by the love this ceremony brings.”
The massage and rebozo wraps not only felt absolutely amazing, they also helped remind me of the importance of caring for myself. During the ceremony, I felt so safe and comfortable and at peace, and I was aware of how strong, resilient and loved I am. “
You can read more here
In terms of using it to carry and calm babies, I have also lost count of how many times I’ve seen parents with this wonderful look on their face when they realise they can meet their baby’s needs for closeness AND get their hands back. And, as a doula myself, I recently supported a mum of twins,and I found it pretty elating to be able to carry both twins together in a stretchy wrap!
So you see I have accumulated many more stories like these, more than I can share here.
I have a innate desire to share knowledge (funnily, it’s even in my name, Messager means Messenger in French) so others can benefits from it too.
I started teaching live rebozo workshops a couple of years ago but there is only one of me and whilst I travel up and down the UK to offer it, I wanted it to be available to a wider audience.
Today I am proud to announce that my rebozo, shawls and scarves course is now available as an online course-which you can find here.
This means that I am now offering 3 different levels of training, an ebook, the online course, and a live course (link coming up at 9pm tonight!). (and of course, I also have a my online rebozo shop too)
If you’d like a short taster of what’s available in my training, just sign up to receive a free guide with 3 different rebozos techniques on my website here