Submitted by Thea van Tuyl, Netherlands
The first time I met Naoli Vinaver, Mexican midwife, at a Midwifery Today conference, she was teaching about the Rebozo technique. She caught my attention immediately.
The Rebozo (cotton baby-carrier, shawl and tool to massage pregnant and birthing women) was used to relax, to move the mother, and to change the position of the baby. It looked so normal to do these things with a colourful Rebozo!
Since I was present at the Midwifery Today Conferences in Europe every year, I saw more and more of the Rebozo technique. Not only from Naoli, but also from Mexican midwife Angelina Martinez. Every time they did a workshop I was there to learn more about all the possibilities of this wonderful towel. I learned for example; when the Rebozo was wrapped around the hips of the mother while she laid down on the floor she was moved or shaken, whatever she needed, and she felt great by this treatment. But the Rebozo could also be used to shake her pelvis when she was standing so the baby could bear down or find the right position. There were so many positions and ways to use the Rebozo! And when I started to try to do it in my own practice, it brought even more opportunities, possibilities and a lot of pleasure.
In 2006 the first Doula training started in the Netherlands and I was involved as a teacher. It was my task to teach the Rebozo to the new doula’s and it was great to do that. The doulas were excited and tried more and more at each other and later on at their clients. One of the doulas was my colleague childbirth educator, Mirjam de Keijzer, and we had a lot of contact. She told me about her experiences with her clients with the Rebozo and together we experimented with all kind of positions, rhythms, techniques etc…. Mirjam was a great Rebozo-user and so we both started to give workshops in our country.
There was nothing on the internet about the Rebozo. Sometimes an article or a report of the workshop at Midwifery Today, seldom a video on YouTube. And that was it. So we decided to write a book about this marvellous way of giving comfort to pregnant and birthing women, and not to forget; the beautiful tradition from Mexico, the closing massage for mothers in the post partum period. We started to write down the way the Rebozo can be used in several positions, and in different situations. We had a lot of pictures from the workshops we had given and Mirjam started to make drawings from these pictures. This made it possible to understand the text better . It became more and more a work book, an instruction on how to use the Rebozo.
As we were not the ones who had spread this technique around the world, but the Mexican midwives, we contacted Naoli Vinaver and asked her to help us to do the right thing with the book. She wrote a preface and some parts for us and she read all our text and corrected where we were ‘wrong’. She helped us a lot to finish the book and had the roll of co-writer.
The first book came out in 2008 and was written in Dutch. In the Netherlands this way of giving comfort and massage to pregnant and birthing women was new and it came from a culture far from our cold country. Rebozo has everything to do with passion, with temperament and a kind of ‘fire’ in the blood. Things that we, Dutch girls, wanted to have, but we are certainly no Mexican girls.
So we decided to tell our participants of the workshops that we tried hard and did our best, but that we offered the Rebozo technique with a European ‘taste’. Maybe a bit more stiff and very practical, but also from our hearts. Because it is a way of giving comfort, relaxation and movement that you only can give with your heart.
In 2009 we had translated the Rebozobook into English, with help of several English speaking women. We were so glad, that we could send the message of the Rebozo into the world. But how do you get the message all over the world from a tiny, little country like the Netherlands? We had our own website: www.rebozo.nl and we had even an English page on it. But not everybody got it via Google, I assume that it was only to be found via www.google.nl (the Dutch Google site).
We were very happy with the help of the Midwifery Today conferences that we could send the message about the book and the Rebozo via that canal. Teachers from the conference were very interested and Debra Pascali-Bonaro took it with her for her doula training and other kind of workshops. The Midwifery Today bookshop started to sell the book too! So the Rebozobook is now available in many ways for English speaking people.
The good news is that Naoli Vinaver will translate the book in Spanish and Portuguese, so it will be available for the Spanish and Portuguese speaking women. That will give the Rebozomassage even more power to reach a lot of pregnant women!
In the meantime the Rebozo got more and more attention in Europe and Mirjam and I were invited in many countries to do a Rebozo workshop. Midwives and doulas were excited about the easy way you can use the towel and started to practice- at first at home and later on with their clients. We found out that even other professions like therapists, teachers, physiotherapists, masseuses etc. were very interested in this way of giving massage. Women who work with children thought it a very good way of playing and helping children to move, to relax, to fall asleep.
The best are the stories of doulas or midwives who tell us that the Rebozo worked during a pregnancy or birth. One story is about a woman who was in labour and went to the hospital. Her partner and doula were with her. When she arrived she only had a few centimetres dilation and however her contractions went on and on, there was no progress.
The rule in the hospital was: if you did not had reached 4 cm dilation at 19.00 h. you needed to go to the ward, to get a rest, a sleep and you had to wait until the next morning for ‘the rest of your birth’. This woman really wanted to go on with her birth and did not like to go to the ward, but time was ticking and there was no progress. The doula thought that she could help with the Rebozo and asked the woman to sit on hands and knees on the bed. She wrapped the Rebozo around the pelvis and the bottom of the woman (like a candy or a tootsie-roll) and started to shake. The shaking was felt in the pelvis and the uterus and after a while the contractions got more powerful. When the midwife entered the room to check if the woman could stay or had to go to the ward, she found that she had reached her 4 cm dilation! So she could stay in the delivery room and she had a wonderful birth that night! Of course there is no evidence that the Rebozo did this job, but we are convinced that it certainly helped anyway! It is just an example how easy it is to use the Rebozo. It will not work always, but you can try.
Find out how to use the Rebozo- buy the book, attend a workshop, or visit Midwifery Today or go to Brasil where Naoli Vinaver teaches the Rebozo technique. Do it and you will have so much pleasure with giving this kind of comfort or massage and you will be excited about the results!