Rebozo: Labor Tool
Birth doulas are usually first introduced to the rebozo in their doula training. Often two or three "techniques" are shown, amongst a varying number of other comfort measures and exercises for managing and completing labor. As I've become a much more experienced doula, I now see how overlooked the rebozo is. Not just in doula trainings, but also in childbirth education, in the information we're providing to our clients and even the information out there in cyberspace on how to manage pain and discomfort in labor. That's not to say that the rebozo is some magic wand that gives you whatever birth you want, but I've come to see how truly essential it is for the entire journey; beginning in pregnancy and taking a new mom all the way through her postpartum period.
So what is it? It's a Mexican woven blanket. It's similar to a very long and durable pashmina or scarf. It has a long cultural and spiritual background from Mexico where it's regarded as an important part of everyday life. Couples may receive one during marriage, people may be buried in one, moms carry their babies in one and people may even design their own style to pass on a family heritage, among other things. Although many things can be used when a rebozo is not handy, it's history is a part of it's magic. It makes it special and carries with it an energy that other things may just not have.
In birth, we use a rebozo as a tool for comfort, relaxation and partner connection. Introducing it prenatally, it's used to perform a very unique kind of "massage" on mom and demonstrates its value as a resource for comfort. In labor, it's used as a source of comfort, strength and muscle relaxation for mom. And in postpartum, it's used to aid recovery and the transition into parenthood. Yes, it really does all of that. It's hard to explain and visualize, but this long, strong piece of woven cloth can do hundreds of things that can benefit literally any body and most interestingly, specifically a pregnant and laboring body.
On top of that, the rebozo is made even more special in the ways in which in can help to incorporate and give more of an active role in the labor to the partner. It provides an unlimited number of options for the partner using it on the laboring women for counter-pressure, tension relief, physical support and close contact. It's familiarity and the sense of safety that's created through it's use can then also help the woman in managing her more subtle energies and emotions in an effort to make her labor and delivery a smoother journey.
The bottom line: get yourself a rebozo! Pregnant or not. And then go find a class, workshop, midwife or doula to teach you how to use it. It's not something that can be learned through reading or watching; doing is the best way. And this new education you will acquire will carry you through a lifetime of comfort management and relaxation techniques.