I’ve never used a rebozo at a birth because, up until a few weeks ago, I wasn’t trained and didn’t really know what to do with one. Several months ago, I wondered if one of those five-dollar “pashmina” shawls that are being peddled by any one of the hundreds of street and small store salesmen in my fine city would do as a rebozo until I figured out what to do with a real one and bought it. I threw one in my doula bag, mostly in case someone was cold during a birth, but also in case I got up the courage to use it. I never took it out, as births are usually warmer than cold and my rebozo experimentation never poked it’s head at those times. Recently, when placing an order through the DONA Boutique, I saw that they are selling rebozos for only $10. That is a bargain! To my surprise they had one in black. My doula motif is mostly black and white (and oh, how it isn’t), so that’s the one I had to have. I laughed when my package arrived and I saw that my rebozo looked like it had been purchased by the Nigerian guy on Broadway and 74th Street, same package and all. It doesn’t matter that it cost me twice as much. At least I know that the shawl I already have in my bag will indeed suffice as a rebozo. I’m sure DONA can put the profits to good use too.
The rebozo is a traditional Mexican garment, like a long shawl or Spanish mantilla. In addition to its use as a shawl, it is multifunctional, being used during pregnancy, labor and as a baby or toddler carrier. During pregnancy, it is used to counteract back pain, during labor to help the mother into various positions, for relaxation and to adjust the position of the baby.
When used by a doula, the rebozo is like an extension of the arms, allowing one to help support the woman’s weight and helping to ensure that she is in a good position. During the pushing stage of labor, it can be used like a tug-of-war rope to help the mother focus her pushing and widen the pelvic outlet. The rebozo can be used by a midwife to assist in repositioning a posterior or breech baby.
The most basic technique one can practice with a rebozo is used to relax the soft tissues of the abdomen and the broad uterine ligaments. It is called jiggling or sifting and is pretty much what these names imply. This method can also be used during pregnancy to help the baby get into the optimal position for birth.
For photos and videos on these techniques and more, visit Spinning Babies and Birthing Essentials.
For books and other related materials, check out The Rebozo Way Project.
For more uses, view Midwifery Today’s Transcription of the Rebozo Workshop Given by Dona Irene Sotelo and Naoli Vianver.
So, go out and get a cheap pashmina shawl. Dress it up, dress it down and carry your groceries home from the farmer’s market in it. Then, when you’re pregnant, it will help you relax and get your baby into the right position for birth. When the time comes, it will be right there to help you in labor and even support you in pushing your baby out. How great that you can then use it to carry that baby. On second thought, maybe you don’t want to get such a cheap one.
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