Using a Rebozo in Pregnancy and Birth

Pregnant woman at birthing center.

Ian Hooton / Science Photo Library/ Getty Images

A rebozo (ree-bo-zo) is a shawl that can be used for comfort and to help labor progress. Rebozo is a Spanish word that means “shawl,” and represents the traditional scarf worn on the head and shoulders of women in Mexico. This clothing item also has been traditionally used by midwives to aid in pregnancy and labor—and as a child carrier.

Overview

The standard rebozo is a woven (frequently hand-woven) fabric approximately 80 inches long by 27 inches wide, made of cotton, light wool, or synthetic fiber. You may find that you already have something around the house that can serve as a rebozo. A twin flat sheet works in a pinch and is usually easily accessible at a hospital. Women with larger or taller bodies may appreciate a rebozo that is a bit longer.

Pregnancy

You can use the rebozo to help during pregnancy by folding it longways and wrapping it tightly under your belly and around the hips. Similar to using products marketed as "belly support bands," many women enjoy the support and stability that a snuggly wrapped rebozo offers. It can help to counteract the discomfort that may occur due to the natural loosening of the joints and ligaments in preparation for labor and birth. This support can relieve lower back pain and soreness.

You can also place a hot or cold pack on the small of your back or under your belly, and secure it in place by using the rebozo. That gives you the flexibility to move around and continue with your day (or sleep at night) without having to hold the pack in place.

Labor

Using a rebozo wrapped around your midsection can make it easier for you to squat in labor and can help you conserve some energy for things to come. Squatting can help move the baby down and open the pelvis for labor. The rebozo wraps around your back while a support person stands in front of you and holds the ends. This helps take some of the weight off so you can squat longer.

Another way a rebozo can be used is to tie a knot in one end of the rebozo and throw the knotted end over the top of the door, then close the door tightly. Then you can hang off of the rebozo and use it for support, remaining upright so that gravity can help while keeping the pelvis loose.

Another use for the rebozo is to “sift” the mother in labor. You assume the hands and knees position and the rebozo is placed around your belly. Two support people each grab one end, holding it up at their waist level, and "jiggle" the belly by shifting back and forth. This helps with a baby that may need a little position adjustment. A 2015 review found that using the rebozo for this type of pelvic massage in early labor to promote optimal fetal positioning shows promise.

Another 2017 study also found positive results. The women who used the technique during childbirth for comfort and to aid in repositioning their babies during labor reported both physical and psychological benefits.

Birth

The rebozo can be used to play “tug of war” with a partner or support person during the pushing stage, with you holding on to two ends and your partner holding the rebozo in the middle. This provides resistance to help direct your pushes down and move the baby out. This technique can be used even if you are laboring with an epidural, as it really helps focus the pushing efforts.

Postpartum

After having a baby, you may find it comfortable to wear a belly band or other support to hold your postpartum belly in place while your body slowly returns to its pre-pregnancy state. A rebozo is a perfect tool for this. If you are interested in wearing your baby, you can use the rebozo to carry your newborn high on your chest, hands-free, as many people have done for hundreds of years in cultures around the world.

Tips

There are many websites and YouTube videos that offer demonstrations and information on how you can use a rebozo for pregnancy and baby-related purposes. It is helpful to practice some of these positions and techniques in advance of using them so you are comfortable and have given them a “test drive.” You can also ask your doula, childbirth educator, or prenatal yoga instructor for some additional tips that they may have for ​rebozo uses.

A Word From Verywell

Having lots of tools at your disposal can help promote your labor and provide comfort and pain relief during pregnancy, labor, childbirth, and postpartum. Using a rebozo in labor is just one of the many techniques you might want to try—choose what feels right to you. Each woman will respond differently to various coping mechanisms and interventions, but many women find using this multifunctional cloth helpful and comforting. Even better, it does double duty as a baby carrier as well.

Loading shell for quizzesApp1 vue props component in Globe.
Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Iversen ML, Midtgaard J, Ekelin M, Hegaard HK. Danish women's experiences of the rebozo technique during labour: A qualitative explorative study. Sex Reprod Healthc. 2017 Mar;11:79-85. doi:10.1016/j.srhc.2016.10.005

  2. Cohen SR, Thomas CR. Rebozo technique for fetal malposition in labor. J Midwifery Womens Health. 2015 Jul-Aug;60(4):445-51. doi:10.1111/jmwh.12352