All Tied Up: Rebozo Use in Pregnancy and Beyond
There are many benefits to using a rebozo in pregnancy and labor. A rebozo is a Mexican shawl about five feet in length and two and a half feet wide, though they come in different sizes. They are made from cotton or rayon. Rebozos are used in women’s clothing in Mexican culture and every woman would have her own. They are used to keep women warm, help carry heavy objects, and of course aid in pregnancy and birth. They are also used as a baby carrier.
In pregnancy, a rebozo may be tied around the mother’s abdomen in a manner similar to a maternity belt. This will help an achy back and actually better position baby into the pelvis and onto the cervix.
“The rebozo is also used in the midwife’s bag. It is a piece of cloth that can be used to wrap around a woman’s belly. The woman who’s had many babies and has a big belly that falls out onto her lap, well, usually the baby is not well aligned in her body. Actually, she may have contractions and have labor for a long time. Even though she’s had babies, baby can’t come out because baby’s resting outside. It’s just out there on the bed or out there in the air, and you need to bring that baby back into her body. The rebozo is a very convenient way of doing it. What I’ve done is lay the woman down and have gravity pull the baby back inside her, and then I tighten the rebozo around, with the knot on the side, so that she cannot feel the knot if she’s leaning. And I just make it nice and tight, usually as tight as I can, because the belly is a huge weight. Then she can get up and have the baby once the baby has fallen back into place. [It positions the baby back over the cervix to help it dilate in labor.]”- Dona Irene Sotelo and Naoli Vinaver, Midwifery Today
During labor, the rebozo offers relaxation and support. The rebozo can be wrapped under the belly or over the hips in hands and knees position. The doula or support people gently rock the fabric in a sifting, sometimes a more forceful jiggling, motion. This encourages relaxation of tight ligaments and can be a pleasant sensation for the laboring mother to focus on during contractions. It again may be tied as a maternity belt or around the hips applying pressure similar to the double hip squeeze so commonly loved by doulas and mothers alike. The rebozo can be used as physical support in helping the tired mother balance on a birth ball, full squat, or other position. She may also pull on the ends as traction for the pushing stage. It may also be used to tie heat or cold packs to the mother where she chooses. If the mother prefers, it can be draped or tied over her in a tent or blindfold to help remove distractions happening around her.
Postpartum, the rebozo may be used to help support the abdominal muscles though a belly binding technique. Like the belt application mentioned above, the fabric physically supports the abdominal muscles and helps hold them in proper placement. Mothers who have birthed via cesarean may find it even more helpful to use the rebozo to support their muscles and incision area. Belly support also reduces postpartum back pain anecdotally at least.
The rebozo is also useful for the baby carrying. It is used as one would use any other woven wrap. A common carry style is the tuck, classically worn by Mexican women. It is a front carry where the rebozo covers both carrier’s shoulders, crossed, and then tucked under baby’s bottom. The rebozo can also be used as a sling with or without rings.
www.birthingbasics.net/ accessed 12/29/2015
www.midwiferytoday.com/ accessed 12/29/2015
Libbi Ayers is a birth and postpartum doula from Summertown, Tennessee. Her services cover the spectrum of motherhood from preconception and fertility to postpartum and parenting.
She became a Birth Arts International Trained Doula in November of 2013 and is working towards certification. She is also trained through Stillbirthday to help families navigate loss and birth diversity. She serves the Middle Tennessee and North Alabama area.
Libbi also has an Associate of Applied Science in Radiologic Technology earned at Columbia State in 2007.She is a registered X-Ray and Computed Tomography (CT) technologist. She worked in Radiology for about 5 years when deciding to focus on becoming a mother. She spends her spare time outdoors with family, jewelry making, and serving as a youth group leader at a local church.