Rebozo Sifting, or Jiggling

Sifting, or jiggling, the entire abdomen can relax tight ligaments and help a baby rotate in pregnancy or labour more easily, and help a birthing woman relax into her labour.

It is typically done daily or weekly in pregnancy, and between contractions during early and early active labor.

There are more ways than one to relax!

The hospital has muscle relaxants and narcotics to relax a woman who is either tense emotionally, or simply tense in her abdominal fascia, prolonging labor. But this simple and fun technique from the Yucatan Peninsula helps relax mothers with no drugs at all.

How to do Rebozo Sifting

Use a wide, woven shawl or folded thin t-shirt style sheet or such. It has to be about 5-7 feet long.

Kneel in front of a chair, sofa, or birth ball. The helper helps you to wrap the rebozo around your abdomen like a hammock around the baby.

Rest belly down, lean onto a chair. Use pillows for knees and chest for comfort as needed. Drape your arms over the ball, chair or sofa rather than resting your weight on your hands.

Now the mother is in position to start. Here’s what the helper does:

Have a trusted friend stand behind you and hold the ends of the material like reigns of a horse–They lift the weight of your belly off your back, snug but not uncomfortable. Mothers sigh in relief at this point.

The helper lifts the belly enough to lift the weight of the womb from the mother’s back. When the helper begins to sift, the material does not slide along the belly. Short movements are made slowly at first, and then with increasing speed. Not larger or wilder movements, just faster.

In several seconds, your belly is jiggling like you are being vibrated. Breathe freely, slowly and let your belly hang into it. It should be enjoyable. If not, tell the helper to adjust the speed or pressure of the rebozo.

Give your friend feedback so that they are not too broad with their movements or too mild, don’t lift too high or too little.
After about 2 minutes your friend’s arms will be tired and they should slow down gradually for several seconds before stopping.

When to do the rebozo sifting:

That varies

Weekly would be lovely.
Each prenatal or pregnancy appointment with your helper, doula, bodyworker, friend, midwife
In early labour, between surges (contractions)
At 4 cm dilation in labor, when things are slow (between contractions)
When the baby needs a little help with shifting into a more ideal position

Begin any series of Spinning Babies techniques with Rebozo sifting for 2 minutes (til your arms are tired, longer is fine)
Try this twice a day if you are in a time crunch to get baby repositioned.

When not to use the rebozo

Done gently there is no danger.

Done correctly, a useful rebozo session in pregnancy is moderately vigorous, but WITH caution and sensitivity to the mother and baby. The helpers slightly bent (soft) knees help them perceive the connection between the rebozo and the mother’s body more sensitively than if the helper’s knees are straight.

Never use the rebozo when their is a threat of miscarriage. For instance, history of more than one miscarriage in the past, or signs of bleeding or low cramping in early pregnancy.

When the round ligaments are tight or cramping in mid or late pregnancy, the rebozo wouldn’t be dangerous to the baby, but could make the mother’s round ligament spasm. So do only a lift and very gentle and slight rocking. Otherwise you might “set off” a round ligament spasm which hurts. If the mother isn’t getting these spasms, you are not likely to set them off with the rebozo.

Do not perform vigorous or even moderate sifting with the rebozo or a rebozo substitute against an anterior placenta. This warning is intuitive, I know of no research on this. Early in pregnancy we wouldn’t know and I think it would be ok if done gently without jerking, but late in pregnancy it is better to be extra careful.

Alternative ways of balancing the relaxation of the broad ligament will be

Forward leaning inversion
Diaphragmatic release
Standing sacral release
Sidelying release (Pelvic Floor release)
More Myofascial releases in general
Craniosacral therapy

Before using the rebozo

Ask the mother if she is having frequent round ligament pain, in the abdomen above the pubic bone off to the sides, either side. Right where the midwife or doctor reaches to check for a head in a head-down baby. If she doesn’t have pain or “zinging” there at times, she is not having round ligament pain.

The helper should slow themselves down, get calm, and “tune into” the mother and the calm mood desired to be achieved by this rhythmic technique.


After the rebozo, A pregnant or laboring woman can do a series of balancing exercises, Spinning Babies techniques, or simply rest, depending on the goal of the day.

Here are some pics from a rebozo workshop in March 2013