I would have to say that if I could only keep two things in my doula bag, besides using my hands, I would have to pick honey sticks. And my Rebozo. I could extoll the virtues of the Rebozo for days, but for now, let me just tell you about it as succinctly as possible. A Rebozo is a Mexican word that literally translates to “shawl.” It represents the traditional scarf worn on the head and shoulders of Mexican women and has had deep roots in mexican culture for centuries. They are traditionally hand-woven of cotton or silk, and finished on the ends with fringe. Whereas the Rebozo was used as a wrap for carrying babies (and still is!), the use of the Rebozo has evolved and has become a common tool used in pregnancy, birth and postpartum. In a pinch, the concept of the Rebozo can be used by utilizing a long scarf or a twin bed sheet. What you are using should be long enough to wrap around a pregnant belly with some room on each end. ( Though I really do recommend buying directly from the women who are making these by hand. Fair trade and nothing quite comparable).
Partners and doulas can offer a tremendous amount of relief to the pregnant person with use of the Rebozo. It can be folded to wrap snuggly under the belly and around the hips to offer relief. As the relaxin in your body is beginning to move things around and open them up doing this kind of hold with the Rebozo is quite something. Allowing the weight of the belly to be released is so beneficial if there is back pain.
How can this help baby position? There is a tremendous amount of anecdotal evidence that supports the encouragement of a Rebozo for allowing baby to move into an optimal position for birthing. In most cases, this can be done during labour and birthing as well. Using a Rebozo can help encourage baby to move into a better position naturally, if wrapping the pregnant belly. In the same way a woman experiences relief in pregnancy when the Rebozo is wrapped around her pregnant belly, it is this relief of pressure experienced that can help baby position better to encourage dilation. More than anything, the reason this is my on the top of the list of favourite tools is comfort for the birthing woman. The Rebozo has so many uses:
- The gentle belly sifting accomplished with the Rebozo feels very calming, relaxing and nurturing to the mom
- A Rebozo wrap can provide tremendous support in allowing a woman to rely on her intuition to find the position she will use to bring her baby into the world.
- Relief for lower back pain
- Relieves uterine ligament tension
- Can be used to pull on for a supported squat (I sometimes throw it over the top of a door and close the door. It can then be used to pull on my support in the squat)
- If in hospital it can be used on the bed to relieve back pain
- If in hospital it can be used to wrap on the squat bar to use to pull
- Encourages partner interaction, as once the rebozo has been properly positioned, the partner can hold either side of the wrap to “sift” and to pull away pressure from the lower back as baby is pressing down
- It feels good. Being wrapped and supported is the best way for any woman to know her birth team’s got her.
- Wrap that baby!
- See my previous blog post on Belly Binding.
I have specialized training in the use of the Rebozo (and Belly Binding, to0..) so please ask any questions and please be encouraged to ask for it specifically. Usually my clients can count on me pulling this out at a birth, but if you are interested in purchasing one, let me know. I don’t sell them, but I can point to some of the best choices. Happy wrapping my friends! And if it provides you with relief, why not? Do it! Kathleen Baker Birth Journey Doula (Kelowna)