An ode to my rebozo

Last week I tried (and failed) to attend the Human Rights in Childbirth European Summit in Strasbourg. Thanks to a fault on the Eurostar I spent 10 hours travelling in ever-decreasing circles around my house instead of reporting for Birthrights and the UK on the good, bad and the ugly in terms of women’s rights in birth.

My fruitless travels were made slightly less annoying by a soft, long, warm and beautiful scarf around my neck. I used it as a headrest and a shawl as well as something to comfort and inspire me on the train. Because, although you’d never realise to look at it, my scarf is no ordinary neck ware. It wended its way to me all the way to me from Mexico via a Mexican midwife and it’s called a “rebozo”. A “rebozo” ┬áis a traditional Mexican shawl of about four to five feet long. Like women in many cultures Mexican women have used their scarves for a multitude of purposes: keeping warm, carrying their babies and, perhaps most interestingly to me, to aid during the birthing process

Occasionally I’ve used mine to help a woman ease the feeling of contractions in her back, or help with positioning her baby to get labour moving. Often I’ve used it to wrap around her if adrenaline is making her shiver, if a long-day’s labour has turned in to a chilly night, or even to shield her eyes from the suddenly-bright lights of the hospital. It brings back fond memories of women during their labours and gives me strength on days, like last week, when I wonder if I should have stayed in bed eating biscuits instead.

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