We hear about rebozo when talking about birth preparation, but often having no idea what it is..
Rebozo is a Mexican woven scarf that has been originally used by traditional Mexican midwives when taking care of women during pregnancy and especially during labor. It’s being used now by midwives, doulas and childbirth educators around the world because the combination of its benefits and simplicity to use is amazing!
I was first introduced to rebozo when pregnant with Lily as part of the HypnoBirhting course I took myself then. I will admit, I didn’t use it much then, as it wasn’t clear to me what the benefits actually were. But it was enough to get me intrigued, so when pregnant with Miko I attended the Spinning Babies workshop at 39 weeks. Yep, 39! There was around 20-25 of us – all midwives, doulas and myself – a yoga and HypnoBirthing teacher. I remember thinking that if I would go into labor right now, I couldn’t be in safer hands 😉 I loved all what I’ve learned then! At 39 weeks pregnant it felt so relaxing and relieving, I didn’t understand why I didn’t do it earlier in my pregnancy, just to make it a bit easier on myself. So I wanted to learn more.
About a year after the workshop in Amsterdam I joined Thea van Thuijl for a full day training learning just about it: rebozo use when pregnant, during labor, during your postpartum times, but also simply during life. Yep, you don’t have to be pregnant or in labor to make use of this amazing and simple tool. Lower back pain, tensed shoulders, or playing with your kids – all that and more!
Thea already wrote a book about the use of rebozo, as she learned it straight from the source, Mexican midwives, Naoli Vinaver and Angelina Martinez Miranda. In the article here I will focus on my favorite 5 practices instead of bringing them all to you, so you become aware that they exist, and that you can use them as well to make your pregnancy and labor smoother, and parenting more fun 😉
1. Gentle rebozo shift: for relaxation, pain relief and rotating your baby into the most optimal position for birth
You can use this practice when pregnant and during labor. There are different ways to do it, the very sophisticated ways which I would only trust skillful birth workers to perform, but also very simple and gentle ways which anyone around you can support you with – anyone that’s more or less your height, so a kid won’t do though 😉
The benefits are some of the best of all practices when preparing for labor:
You bring relaxation to the mother-to-be which she needs at every stage of her pregnancy and labor. It feels like someone is holding your belly, so you don’t feel the heaviness of it anymore, amazing!
By bringing that relaxing feeling during labor, you are actually helping the mother to feel less pain. When we are tensed during labor, our uterus muscle do not work as they are designed to, but instead they ‘block’ the movement, causing sharp pain and often lack of progress in dilation. When a midwife would see a mother in a lot of pain, clenching her jaw, she would often ask her to go on hands and knees so she can help her to relieve some of that tension, which would then release the muscles of uterus, allow for progress in opening of the cervix and allow to feel less pain.
And you help baby find the most optimal position for birth. Either during pregnancy when your baby still needs some encouragement to find their way head down, or to give them space to wiggle their way to the side of your belly where we would love to feel them. Or during birthing your little one if they need some help to find their way to the birthing path.
2. The shimmy: for relaxation, creating more space around the pelvis and for bringing more progress during the labor itself
It’s one of those that looks, well, weird. After all someone is about to shake your buttocks, not something that happens every other day. However, the benefits of putting behind the fact that we may feel a bit silly when we practice at first, are so so great!
You relax your buttocks and pelvic floor which can bring great progress in dilation during labor
If contractions stopped for a while, and you are 'done' with resting, you can also bring the contractions back by using the shimmy – it’s a great oxytocin boost! Note: you may need more time than 2 minutes to achieve that result, another good reason to have your partner, midwife or a doula trained in rebozo practice as well..
When rebozo is narrowly folded and you address the lower back, it’s such a great lower back relief! Whether pregnant or in labor, one of the favorite benefits of all moms-to-be.
The rhythmic movements address fascia, and by doing that we create more space for the baby as well.
And it just feels good. You can say anything you like, but after 2-3 minutes of receiving the practice, we are able to relax and switch off easier than we would ever imagine.
3. Massage of the pelvis when lying down: for relaxation during pregnancy, postpartum but also during labor during dilation phase when we like to lie on our back
I was told that in Mexico a traditional midwife would visit you and offer that massage from head to toe. I only experienced it around the pelvis and it was already so good!
It brings overall relaxation within seconds
It makes you feel safe, hold and taken care of
After only a few moments of receiving the practice you find yourself in a 'lalaland' of not having to think, plan or do anything..
So exactly what you need when pregnant, in labor, and maybe even more - when already being a mom and need a moment of self-care..
4. Rebozo for relieving shoulder pain
We will feel the need of this practice the most once we have our babies with us. Constant carrying, feeding, often being anxious and tired is causing us to accumulate a lot of tension in the shoulders. Having someone who can fold the scarf, place it on our shoulders, gently pull down and stay there for a couple of breaths, feels like amazing relief!
5. A moment of fun with your kids!
I will never forget Lily and Miko after I came back from the training with Thea. They didn't want to stop playing with me and rebozo! Relaxed, happy and playful. The possibilities are endless..