4-Hands Rebozo Ritual or Closing-the-Bones Ceremony


What is a rebozo?

Mexican birth culture* has a long tradition of using the rebozo before, during and after birth. There are regional differences in the color, texture and pattern but it’s a beautiful, long, woven piece of fabric that can also be used for caring infants after the birth. Rebozo is said to be “an extension of loving hands”. It is also used in other South-American countries such as Peru or Ecuador.

Use of the rebozo has recently become more common in other parts of the world and definitely a must amongst doulas and natural-mamas-to-be ! I use it on a daily basis with pregnant moms in my prenatal sessions but also during birth and in postpartum.

The 4-hands Robozo Ritual, also called “Closing-the-Bones Ceremony”, is a specific practice. It is traditionally offered after birth in the postpartum time, but could also be done at any time of a woman’s life : to celebrate a happy change like getting married or a special birthday, going through puberty or menopause or help heal a difficult period in her life (a breakup, a miscarriage, through a time of grief, depression) or just when she needs to take special care of herself and her body.

Rituals in Postpartum

The traditional postpartum Rebozo ritual usually happens in the 40-days-period after birth. In South America, women might be given this massage within hours of the birth, and receive it again at least 5 or 6 times during the first 40 days postpartum. 

The first 40 days, dates back centuries and is still followed in numerous traditions all around the world. It is an essential time for the expectant mother’s recovery. How to create heal, rest and integrate these life changes whilst looking after a newborn. It is essential to build back-up our general health for our own physical and mental wellbeing but also for future pregnancies and a good menopause.

Globally and multiculturally around the world, we have an innate understanding of the vulnerability of a new mother and the need for her to be cared for and nurtured. That is traditionally done through a confinement period, nourishing foods and some kind of bodywork technique, often combining massage and binding.

You can also discover my Ayurveda Postpartum Meal Delivery Service HERE.

How is the 4-Hands Rebozo Ritual performed?

The treatment is giving by 2 women at the same time who work in harmony on either side of you body in a mirror-like fashion, that is why we call it 4-hands!

During pregnancy our hips open, becoming wider as baby grows and the idea is that after birth it is essential to help close them back to their normal width, otherwise mothers suffer from pelvic instability and leak energy. That is why it is called a closing-the-bones ceremony.

It involves the rebozo to rock and articulate the mother’s hips, followed by a complex abdominal and pelvic girdle massage using a warming oil, and then finished by tightly wrapping the cloth around the woman’s hips.

The massage stimulates blood flow which in turn; cleans, renews, moves fluids, moves hormones, stimulates the immune system, and helps tone muscles and tissues. It may also help with heavy lochia (bleeding after birth).

Our hips also support the weight of the spine and head and they are therefore the seat of unresolved emotions and trauma, which can be felt upon the hips. Beyond the physical aspect of closing the bones, there is also a spiritual aspect to the treatment, which provides a safe space/ritual for the mother to feel nurtured and release emotions associated with the birth and motherhood. 

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*A note about cultural appropriation

An important thing with regards to using the rebozo is cultural appropriation. The word rebozo should not be used to refer to anything that is not, in fact, a rebozo. Mine was handwoven and purchased from a collective of women who thread the rebozo in a traditional fashion. Traditional midwives in Mexico have also expressed the wish that the rebozo should not be taken away from its cultural context. They wish that the oral tradition of honoring the teacher who transmitted the rebozo wisdom would be expressed before using the rebozo.