Labor Tools

Labor Tools: Rebozo

rebozo5What it is:

The rebozo is a traditional Mexican shawl that is long enough to wrap around a woman’s body (about 4-5 feet). The rebozo is a multifunction tool for labor, used to assist the mother into various positions and for relaxation. If you do not own a rebozo, you can substitute a large scarf, sheet or piece of fabric.

How it works:

The rebozo acts like an extension of the labor partner’s arms. It allows the partner to help support the laboring mother’s weight so she doesn’t have to. It can also help to ensure the mother is in the right position.

How to do it:

Because the rebozo is so versatile, we are not able to explain all of the ways to use it on this page. However, the basic use of the rebozo for positioning is this: Place the rebozo around the mother’s body so the ends can be held by the coach and the rebozo will help support the mother’s weight. Allow the mother to lean slowly into her position while the coach supports her by holding the ends of the rebozo. Here are two specific techniques you may choose to use:

Moving Baby  Mexican midwives have used rebozo abdominal massage to help move babies before labor begins.  The basic concept is to produce movement in the direction you want the baby to turn.  However, because the midwife positions herself to support the mothers pelvis in the rebozo like a hammock, the mother is able to become more fully relaxed improving the chances the baby will turn. The pelvic support can be provided with the mother lying on her back with knees up, or in a hands and knees position.

The basic movement is more like a rhythmic step than a swing.  You are not swinging the mothers hips from side to side.  Instead you are slightly lifting one end of the rebozo, then the other, back and forth rather quickly.  This basic movement relaxes the mother.  When she is relaxed you will give a strong tug on only one end of the rebozo.  This causes a jerk to the baby which encourages movement in the desired direction.   For this type of massage, jerk the end of the rebozo on the side you want the baby rotate toward.

Closing Massage Mexican midwives have a special massage for new mothers designed to close the body which was opened for birth.  This is done a few weeks after the birth. Some midwives wait for the lochia to stop flowing, others wait a full 40 days.


The basic technique is to wrap the rebozo around the mother one section at a time.  The ends of the rebozo will cross and be pulled to tighten the rebozo around the mother.

The tightening of the rebozo is done slowly with one person on each side. Hold the compression until you see the mother relax into it. Watch her chest, she will involuntarily inhale deeply and exhale deeply (perhaps with a sigh) when she is ready to move on to the next section.

Begin at the head, wrapping the temples and covering the eyes.  Move down to the shoulders and chest, hips and pelvic girdle, upper then lower legs and feet.  Then reverse the order to move back up the body.

Placement of the rebozo at each section of the body must be done with care to avoid pain and strangulation.  Be sure the rebozo is always positioned so the mother can breath, and is always over bony tissue to prevent compressing the mother too much.

When the closing is complete, release the rebozo so it wraps gently around her head.  Allow her to lie still with her eyes covered until she feels ready to get up.

Integrating it into labor:

Have the mother sit in an upright position. Place the rebozo so that it is under the mother’s arms and goes over her chest or around her back. The coach stands behind the mother, holding the ends of the rebozo to support the mother’s weight. The coach can gently sway the mother from this position.

Have the mother get in a hands and knees position. Wrap the rebozo under the mother’s belly and around her thighs so that the coach can hold the ends above her. The coach will gently sway the rebozo side to side.

Wrap the rebozo around the mother’s eyes and ears, blocking and muffling incoming sights and sounds to help the mother relax.

Hold the rebozo tightly around the hips to maintain pressure in a hip squeeze.


Jennifer (Author)