R is For Rebozo

Rebozo: Using Fabric To Aid In Rhythm And Comfort In Labor

What Is A Rebozo?

A rebozo is traditionally a shawl that has origins in Mexico. It is a very long garment that is used in their culture for a variety of tasks such as head coverings and to carry little children. In recent years, more and more families are choosing to use a long piece of fabric to aid them in labor. When a family knows of this tool and wants to use it, it is common for it to just be called “Rebozo”. In 2014, I completed a course with Gena Kirby that instructed me on the use of the rebozo for labor. In 2018, I am more mindful of referring to it as  “comfort measures for labor involving fabric” in order to respect the culture it has origins in.


The Measurements

After years of experience with using this fabric with clients in labor, I feel that the nine foot measurement is the easiest for versatility in labor. In addition to length, the wider the fabric is, the better. For many families the traditional rebozo is what is utilized. Other options include folding a top sheet length wise, or using a stretchy woven wrap that will later be used for baby wearing. (If you’re unfamiliar with all of these, a Moby wrap is a stretchy long fabric that can easily be worn by a parent who attends to wear their baby. It comes with instructions so that you don’t feel like you are doing fabric origami.)

As A Form Of Intimacy

When your baby was conceived, chances are high that there were only two people involved. If more people were involved (surrogacy, embryo adoption, etc), then it was a conscious decision between you and your partner that you were ready to add to your family.

There’s a level of intimacy that exists between the two of you that should be honored and celebrated during the birth of your baby. It’s very common for their to be medical staff, family, and friends around on the big day of your baby’s birth. That can feel overwhelming at times.

Together, you can use a sheet or a long piece of fabric to make a tent over your heads. So that each of you is only looking at your partner. This activity creates the feeling of being in a tent or a cave, with just the two of you and baby. It sounds silly at first. I thought it was silly when Gena  asked us to try it. But there was something magical about the entire rest of the world falling away.

As a second form of intimacy, most women like the way it feels for their partner to bounce the fabric along their body, like a subtle and very gentle massage.


As A Form Of Support And Comfort

When a woman is in labor, it’s very common for her to move around. Moving around is an amazing asset during labor. She is very likely to do positions that could be better supported by her partner or birth team. Squats are an example. By wrapping the long fabric under her arm pits and holding the ends securely behind her, you are able to offer her support so that she’s less dependent on the strength of her body and feels more secure. In most positions for labor that involve the fabric, there is a support person that is holding the other end. Which, symbolically, it like the partner and the mother being tied together and working toward a common goal.

As A Tool For Pushing

A long piece of fabric can be woven through the bedposts if the woman is pushing in a bed. It will give her something to pull on, sort of like having a handle, as she pushes baby down. Some hospital beds also have a squatting bar. The fabric can be woven around that bar and then mother can reach forward and pull on the fabric in front of her. A support person can also hold one end while standing at the foot of the bed, and the mother can play “tug of war” with that person while she pushes.

It’s very difficult to try to describe in a blog a tool that involves position changes for labor. If you’re in Houston, and you’d like to learn more about these techniques, I’d love to do a birth consult with you.