How to use a rebozo during labor

I love the rebozo! I first learned about the rebozo and how it can help during labor during my first doula training back in 2011. I fell in love immediate, and I knew I had to have one accompany me at births from that moment on. I’ve taken an amazing workshop with Gena Kirby to learn more about the history of the rebozo and how to utilize her services to help me assist my clients during labor.

Yes. I just referred to my rebozo as “her.” She is my companion and helper during births. Her presence at births is so sacred to me. I believe she brings the strength and power of all the people whose births she has witnessed to each and every birth she attends with me. She is amazing, and I truly love her.

I introduce all of my Birth Boot Camp students and doula clients to the rebozo, and I would like to introduce her to you as well! Here are just a few ways you can use a rebozo during labor.

Belly Sifting

Rebozo belly sifting alexa

This is the very basic move when using the rebozo. Sometimes I think of this position as Rebozo 101. With belly hanging down, either in hands and knees position, or leaning over something, wrap the rebozo around the belly. Spread the fabric out evenly over the belly so that it feels comfortable. Gather up the ends of the rebozo and pull up until you hear her say, “Aaaaaahhhhh.” (she may not actually say that, but the point here is to try to take some of the weight off the belly so that she gets a break from holding the belly up) Start slowly moving your hands up and down, alternating which hand goes up and which goes down. You are trying to jiggle the tummy back and forth. This can be done very gently and comfortably. Try to sustain it for a minute or so, or until your forearms get tired. Then slow down the jiggling and stop. Try again in a few minutes.

Hip Squeeze

Rebozo double hip squeeze

This is a lovely-feeling move that can be done using the rebozo. Instead of wrapping the rebozo around the belly, wrap it around the hips. You might need to fold it lengthwise a few times to make it thinner and easier to work with. From underneath the belly, wrap the rebozo around the hips, cross one end over the other over the back. Squeeze as hard as is comfortable and try to tie a knot. Or, if you have a doula or other supportive person around, you can each take an end and pull. This can provide some amazing hip support.

rebozo me and gena kirby
I took this amazing rebozo workshop in 2012 with Gena Kirby. I was pregnant with my second baby at the time and this hip squeeze was divine. As you can see, this particular version of it took two people to pull off.

Knee press

Rebozo knee press

This position can be done with or without the rebozo in a variety of positions. I am sharing this because this is an example of how the rebozo can enhance just about any position. It can either provide relief to the tired arms of the support person or give more power to the position by using different angles.

To do the knee press using the rebozo, wrap the rebozo around the pregnant person’s back as they sit in a chair. Sit on the floor, and pull on both sides of the rebozo. Place your heels into the pregnant person’s knees. Try to push the knees straight back. This position can help relieve hip or back pain during labor.

Knee press with dad
This is the knee press without using the rebozo. As you can see, someone’s arms may get tired after awhile. Adding the rebozo can give some extra support.

Dangle

rebozo dangle from door

Wrap the rebozo around the support person’s shoulders, the hospital bed railings, or a door. Allow the pregnant person to dangle while holding onto the rebozo. The pregnant partner can either dangle slightly or drop all the way down into the squatting position. The rebozo can help the support person use body weight to help support rather than relying on arm strength alone.

rebozo dangle comparison
The rebozo can add some extra support for the support person in this position.

Motorcycle

rebozo motorcycle
I actually did not have the chance to grab my rebozo for this birth, and I had to use a scarf that I happened to have in my car. I missed my rebozo dearly because this scarf did not have the grip that my rebozo has. It was sliding across her body and my hands were not as close to her hips as I like them to be. It was still a fun(ny) experience though. Photo credit: Joanna Booth Photography

This is my favorite move to talk about during classes and always makes students and clients laugh. I have affectionately dubbed this move “the booty thing.” With the pregnant partner in a hands and knees position, drape the rebozo over their butt. Gather the ends as close their hips as you can. The goal here is to make sure that the material does not slide across the body. Instead the movement comes from moving your hands up and down in an alternating fashion. It will remind you of riding a motorcycle, hence the name. Most of the partners in my classes end up making motorcycle noises as they practice this position.

These are just a few basic positions that can be done with a rebozo during labor. You can learn more about how to perform these moves, as well as the best time to use them, during my childbirth and comfort measures classes. I am also happy to bring this knowledge and my rebozo to your birth as your doula.

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