Yes, that’s right. I was a collegiate cheerleader (Go Ducks!).
The only thing that really has to do with what I’m about to share is the massive damage cheerleading did to my wrists.
I was thrown around a lot and mostly my landings equaled take-offs (thank you, Erik Greenman). When you are being thrown by an individual, you flick your wrists off theirs as they hold your waist. After a few years, I had a really hard time writing notes in class (the era before everyone had laptops). Even now, writing notes and cards can be a struggle after a bit. What the heck does that have to do with being a doula and the renowned double hip squeeze?!?
Please allow me to elaborate! If you are a doula, partner, or other birth attendant, you may know very well the comfort and relief counter-pressure on the hips can be. It is opening to the front of the pelvis, allowing more room for baby, and generally just feels good. I can’t count the times women have said, “Shannon. HIPS.” Partners are also completely adept at learning this move, but oftentimes, I’m called in because she needs her partner to love on her, hold her, and make her feel secure. It helps that my hands are typically a little smaller and sometimes may hit that spot more comfortably and accurately. What this means, though, is that I am squeezing hips for 60-120 seconds using all my arm and upper body strength with my hands in a 90-degree forced position. Using my legs as leverage and good body positioning as taught by my awesome trainer and mentor helps, but this can often last for hours. It might be a good workout regime but not good for the long-term nerve damage for which it can contribute for all practitioners and if anyone performing this technique has had wrist surgery or carpal tunnel syndrome, they will feel the aftereffects as well.
What is the solution? Well, thank you very much, Gena Kirby, for teaching me rebozo techniques in their fullest cultural, societal, and practical context, AND for giving me the solution to my own poor nerve-damaged wrists. The gentle double hip squeeze provided by using a rebozo is not only a wrist and arm saving miracle, it is communal and beautiful for the birth team.
To hip squeeze using a rebozo, one wraps the rebozo around the mother’s hips, under the belly, low on the widest part of her hips, where you would usually squeeze in and up with the palm of your hands. Using two people makes this super easy and conserves energy. All each of you need to do is lean back. The stretch of the rebozo provides gentle counter-pressure on the hips, frontal pelvis opening, and hopefully good relief for mom.
High five or fist bump your rebozo partner for making her feel so good!