What is a Rebozo?

What is a rebozo anyway? Beginner's guide to making labor & delivery faster & more comfortable

What is a rebozo, you ask? You’ve probably heard the word bounced around in the birth community. Is it really that important to know? Short answer: YES. Rebozos are miracle workers during birth. Especially VBAC moms who have labored before and were declared “failure-to-progress” or “macrosomia- big head, small pelvis.” Literally, every OB should have one- oh wait, it’s too much grunt work for them. But L&D nurses could totally swing it.

*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that, at no added cost to you, I may receive compensation for products you purchase through links found on my blog. (Thank you, thank you!) This in no way affects the products I recommend (I only recommend the best)!*

*Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, so please consult your physician before attempting any of these suggestions. Use your best judgment. What worked for me may not work for you. Each body is different and unique. Do what you feel is best at your own risk. I am not liable for any consequences. I am a blogger. This is a blog meant to provide opinions, suggestions, experiences, and information. Not medical advice. I am human and make mistakes, so information may not be 100% complete or accurate. Thank you, and enjoy!*

What is a rebozo?

Rebozo is Spanish for “shawl”. A midwife from Mexico is the one who shared her knowledge of how rebozos can help during childbirth, so the word transferred over. Also, many people specifically like Guatemalan or Mexican rebozos because of the tight weave in all directions (they don’t slip and slide- they stay firmly where they are placed). They also like to purchase rebozos made in Mexico or Guatemala to support small businesses and as a tribute to the countries the techniques came from. (you can order them on Amazon).

Are rebozos worth getting?

Short answer- only if you are willing to learn how to use one.

Buying a rebozo and just letting it sit there to gather dust, or simply wrapping it around your shoulders to keep you warm is going to do nothing to improve your labor or birth. You need 1) a birth partner and 2) practice. Waiting to “need” it during labor is going to end in lots of fumbling and not getting it right. It’s best to practice for weeks or months before labor starts (just like guided meditations, breathing techniques, and relaxation) so you can already be comfortable with it and dive right in!

Exercise ball without a chair first pregnancy third trimester image

This was my first pregnancy without a ball chair and a too-small yoga ball. It was miserable. Don’t do what I did.

Here are comprehensive videos for many different rebozo techniques!

This first video has the techniques I used, and many I had never heard before! Most of these are helpful during pregnancy AND labor!

  1. Sift belly on hands & knees
  2. Sift bum while lying face-up on the floor
  3. While mom is lying on the floor, birth partner gently lifts bum off the floor and back down
  4. While lying on the floor, rest head on rebozo & sift side to side for neck and head relaxation
  5. Hands & knees [or resting arms on ball/bed]: Without wrapping around bum (just placing around sacrum), jiggle sacrum side-to-side
  6. Hands & knees [or resting arms on ball/bed]: Wrap rebozo around bum and firmly shake side-to-side. This is called shaking the apples.
  7. While mother leans upper back against the wall, sift the bum gently
  8. Tie rebozo around under-side of belly to lift baby up

Other, non-rebozo techniques covered in this video include

  1. Lift & Tuck (during contractions mom lifts front of belly and presses inwards)
  2. Birth partner simply shakes all of mom’s big muscle groups (shoulders, back, thighs, hips, etc)

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This next video is pretty cool because this is a hospital nurse detailing how to use a rebozo in the hospital! But most of the techniques can be used in a home or birthing center as well. Some tips she had include:

  1. Purchase rebozo during pregnancy, wash it, and keep it home to help it smell like home
  2. Wrap around the belly and tie a knot in the back, where the sacrum is. Birth Partner can either apply pressure with hands, or mom can lean against a wall and apply the counterpressure herself.
  3. Another technique is tying a know on each end of the rebozo, closing the door on one side of it, and hanging off of the other end. This is useful if there is no hook & rope available in the ceiling.
  4. You can also tie the rebozo to the birth bar while in bed and play “tug of war” with it while pushing (so useful, and way better than crunch and push aka blow your  blood vessels)
  5. Squat on the floor with rebozo looped around the birth bar, wrap each end around your hands and bear down to push

Mandy recommended the website PremierBirthTools.com because they include informational, laminated guides to the techniques.

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One of my personal favorite techniques was not even included in any of the videos! Side-lying sifting. 

This is when the rebozo is laid on the bed with half of it hanging off the side of the bed, and half of it on the bed. The mother lays down in the middle of it on her side with belly at the edge of the bed. The rebozo is wrapped around the belly area of her back, as the birth partner holds on to the top and gently pulls mom forwards and back. It’s like the belly sifting, but for mom’s who have epidurals, or want to lay down.

Biggest reason you would use this technique:

When your contractions look like M’s or upside-down W’s, however you want to look at it (instead of …..one mountain… ….one mountain… …one mountain, it’s ……mountain mountain…….mountain mountain…..mountain mountain…. or double peak…. double peak… double peak), that is called coupling. That means your uterus is trying to almost jolt your baby into position. Your charts shouldn’t look like they are trying to create a eclectic landscaping, they should be boring old peaks and valleys. Straight up, straight down.

My VBA2C had a lot of coupling. My birth team would switch off and sift me for HOURS. Or do shaking the apples. This is why I’m grateful I had 4 people with me at all times (husband, mother, doula, and birthing center midwife). My contractions would normalize as soon as the started sifting me, and would start coupling as soon as they stopped! It’s why I say “didn’t birth my VBA2C, WE birthed her.”

Midwife shaking apples with rebozo in hospital

Here is my incredible birthing center midwife taking a shift to shake my apples with a rebozo

Another way to assist your hardworking uterus is to do exaggerated left side-lying. This website has a nice diagram of it at the bottom. It is also part of the Miles Circuit (link to the Miles Circuit). If you want to do more things to restart labor when it stalls (but really you should be sleeping if you can), and you don’t have an epidural, you can do the Miles Circuit.

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Convinced to get a rebozo?

Heck yes, you are! Click on over to Amazon and order yours NOW. It is so helpful for so many things. XL Rebozos can be used to provide the sweet relief of counterpressure during pregnancy & labor (without exhausting or waking anybody up), they can be used to have someone else to carry the weight of your 40+ pound belly, they can be used to get your baby in a better position which helps ease them out more effectively, and they even help with pushing! Plus, after your fabulous birth, use it as a handy sling to carry your baby hands-free!

Liked what you read? Share it with other expecting moms!

Have any questions for me? Comment below, or send me an email at kimberly@bearfootmama.com

Best wishes for your birth!
Lots of love,

Colorful rebozo used by doulas for sifting in labor

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