Monday, November 22, 2010

Traditional Birth Secrets: The Rebozo

What is a Rebozo?

A rebozo (pronounciation) is a woven piece of fabric used by Mexican women as a shawl, a baby carrier (similar to the way I use a wrap, but the fabric is not as long), and a comfort and positioning tool for pregnancy and childbirth.

Photo by Luis Marquez
Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries

Rebozo Use during Childbirth

Techniques for the Rebozo in childbirth include:
  • "sifting" the mother
  • to aid in the double hip squeeze
  • rocking or dangling the mother
  • covering the mother's eyes and ears to block distractions
  • for the mother to pull on, especially during pushing
The "sifting" technique is the most well-known uses of the rebozo in birth. It is a method jiggle a woman, similar to what Ina May Gaskin calls "shaking the apples." The motion promotes relaxation of the birthing muscles, which can aid in rotation and decent of the baby. Here is a demonstration of the "sifting" technique from a doula training:

Here is the above technique being used in at the hospital during a pitocin induction:

The technique used in the above two videos are explained more in-depth at the Spinning Babies website.

In my doula training, I learned how to do a technique called a "double hip squeeze" with my hands to open the pelvis. This video explains how to use the Rebozo to make the double hip squeeze easier:

More articles and pictures:
  • The Rebozo: a transcript of a rebozo workshop given by Doña Irene Sotelo and Naolí Vinaver, published in Midwifery Today (more pictures can be seen by following the link below the photo shown)
  • "Comfort Measures for Childbirth: Let's do it with a Rebozo"--a collection of images by Patti Ramos taken at a rebozo workshop with Guadalupe Trueba, including images of the rebozo used for rocking , putting it over the eyes to block out distractions, to pull on while pushing, and other uses
  • The Many Uses of a Rebozo at Birthing Essentials--short explanations with pictures of many of the techniques
For more information on traditional baby carriers and rebozos, visit


  1. I was thinking about this this morning, I had a rather rough contraction while making breakfast and as I leaned forward on my countar and breathed through it, I thought "if I just had something to "wag" my belly a bit, that would feel nice"

  2. The Hip Squeeze is AWESOME! I could not even begin to tell you how much that helped me throughout my labor of my second child. Both my doula and my hubby were faithful in using this technique on me with every contraction and I loved them for it!

  3. Thanks so much for compiling these! I've always wanted to use one, but figured it was too mysterious to learn. :-) The giggling looks quite easy though.

  4. Awesome! Love these techniques, thanks for compiling them in an easy to share post!

  5. I'm a volunteer babywearing educator and was just discussing the use of a wrap-style carrier during labor/childbirth at a recent meeting with some expecting parents. I'm glad I came across this article! Thank you!

  6. So THAT's the thing my midwife did to help with labor!? I loved it, it worked really well!

  7. Brittany, thank you very much for writing this article. I, myself teach birth professionals how to use the Rebozo for comfort measures during Labor and Delivery, and appreciate you sharing the message. If anybody would like to know more about the Rebozo as a tool for comfort measures, please come to my website at in order to get more information or find an upcoming workshop