I shaved 33 hours off my previous labor record with this technique!
By Contributing Writer, Virginia Miner
After the birth of my second son, I became a byword for long labors. “Over 24 hours!? That’s a Virginia labor!”
My first son was an emergency c-section due to fetal distress after 36 hours of labor. My second son was born (VBAC!) after fifty some odd hours of labor and most of the interventions possible.
Needless to say, when I conceived for the third time, I was very interested in doing anything reasonable to shorten my labor. I found a midwife who is also a naturopathic doctor and uses herbs to support pregnancy and labor, and I visited the chiropractor regularly.
I did a lot of things very intentionally to improve my chances of a home birth without interventions, but I was most intrigued by this thing called “rebozo technique” that my midwife kept mentioning. She swore that by using this traditional technique she was shaving hours off of her clients’ labors, which sounded pretty good to me!
So what is Rebozo technique?
A rebozo is a Mexican woven scarf, traditionally worn by women as a sort of all purpose useful garment. It can be used during pregnancy and delivery for various exercises, but the technique that we used is known as rebozo sifting.
To do this we used a twin sheet folded in half lengthwise (I don’t actually own a cool Mexican scarf). I got on my hands and knees with the sheet under my belly (like the first picture in this article) and my husband held both ends of the sheet, gently lifting my belly and rocking it very slightly from side to side. This sifting action helps the baby to get in a good position and encourages the head to engage.
When did I use it, and how did it work?
My husband and I began using rebozo sifting in my third trimester without much consistency until about 37 weeks when my baby turned breech. At that point we used rebozo sifting much more consistently in hopes that it would help the baby turn head down again. By 38 weeks she was head down, and we continued doing the sifting every night because I REALLY wanted baby to stay head down!
At 41 weeks and 5 days I finally went into labor, and started bracing myself for days and days of labor again. My active labor started at 1:00 pm and I spent about an hour on a yoga ball until it was just too uncomfortable, at which point I decided to try using rebozo sifting for relief.
We did it just how we had done during pregnancy, with me on my hands and knees. During each contraction my husband would lift and jiggle my belly which provided enormous relief, nearly as good as an epidural! I was hooked.
My husband lifted and sifted during nearly every contraction from then on, until my doula arrived around 3:45 and gave him a bit of a break. I was used to very slow labors and had no conception of how fast things were moving, so when my midwife ordered me into the birth tub at 4:20 I was dubious…
However, I immediately had the urge to push, and within 15 minutes gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.
Were you counting? That was three and a half hours of labor, shaving a good 33 hours off my best time. While there were several things I did to try to improve my labor time, I think rebozo sifting made the most difference, and my midwife agrees. One of the things that had contributed to my very slow labors in the past was that I carry a lot of tension in my hips, and being sifted was almost irresistibly relaxing.
A few notes are in order:
There ARE some contraindications to using rebozo sifting, including certain positions of the placenta. Definitely consult with your care provider before using this technique to make sure that it doesn’t pose undue risk to you or your baby.
Spinning Babies recommends using rebozo sifting in between contractions, which is not what we did. Using it during contractions worked great for me, but like I said before, check with your provider to be sure you are using it safely.
Over all, I would say that every pregnant woman should be aware of rebozo sifting and consider incorporating it into her pregnancy and labor regimen.
An Endorsement from Dr. Mark Miner
Hello. I am not a real doctor (PhD, Engineering), but I can tell you with absolute certainty that 100% of the sample population yelled at me when I stopped doing rebozo, and was very relieved when it resumed. Also, it provides a tangible action for the husband to do: instead of nervously buzzing around and offering tea all the time, he can roll up his sleeves, put his back into it, and help rock that baby out. This is a cathartic sort of thing, even if it tires the arms and back. It also places the husband well out of punching range. For all these reasons and more, I am pleased to offer a strong endorsement of the practice of rebozo during mid-to-late-stage labor.