Nice reading

What I am about to quote can be read in the book,”Living Inspired”, by Akiva Tatz.

Pregnancy proceeds gradually and predictably.  Then, like most ordeals and crises, labor occurs abruptly and is incomparable in intensity relative to the proceeding months.  Labor certainly does not seem to be a life-giving experience _ if one had no knowledge of human physiology and birth witnessed labor for the first time, he would be convinced that a disaster was taking place.  At the height of the labor, when superfically all looks worse, a child is born.  And only then does it become apparent that the entire process was birth, not the opposite.

The unborn child lives in a medium in which it is perfectly adapted_ submerged in liquid, with a blood circulation and other details of its physiology specific to its intra-uterine environment.  Its lungs are collapsed and non-functional, blood bypasses the lungs, the heart has openings between its chambers unlike an adult heart; in short, many of its features are radically different from those of a person already born.  But more than this, those features are life-sustaining in that environment and would be lethal in this one, and the features which are needed to sustain life here would be lethal there: truly a situation of opposites.

Then birth begins: a child perfectly adapted to one set of conditions is thrust into another set where death must be only minutes away _ this child has only the opposite of what it needs to survive!  And miraculously, within a few critical minutes, everything reverses!  “What is closed opens, and what is open closes”, states the gemara.  Almost instantaneously the lungs open and breath, blood is simultaneously routed to the lungs, blood pouring out of the umbilical vessels  are mysteriously arrested as those vessels powerfully constrict, and suddenly a child is alive in this world and perfectly adapted to it.

Birth is the symbol of all transitions, and teaches us to be sensitive in understanding them.

That is where the quote from the book ends here, but you can feel the miracle in it.  So why are so many interventions needlessly practiced in the hospitals?  Why must we ask for, sometimes plead, and at other times fight for delayed cord clamping, and other request in keeping with normal physiology, in the babies transition.  Why do the practitioners of medicine think they can improve the miracle by robbing the baby of his gentle nutritive transition?  I’ll leave them to answer the question…

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This is my home birth story…

This is one of Sarah Zadok’s home birth stories. Sarah, a resident of Ramat Beit Shemesh, gave birth with Joyce for five births between 2000-2010. 

It’s 3 am. I’m drifting somewhere in between sleep and awake…I’m curled up under soft down, lying peacefully beside my husband. My belly is big and ripe and my mind is empty… tranquil even. My body is loose and easy, I am totally relaxed. “POP!” An internal balloon bursts inside of me, and a tiny stream of fresh, warm water begins to trickle from my insides. A smile creeps onto my face as I slowly make my way out of bed. “Thump, thump!” my baby knocks sweetly against my belly… “I hear you my angel. Your time is here baby, Momma’s ready for you…”

I put on my moccasins and waddle to the bathroom and as I do, a contraction rushes through my body like a wave rushing towards a thirsty shore. I lean into the wall for support, breath deep and give in. My body is still loose; I am empty, open, and eager. It hurts like hell, but I’m not fighting the pain; instead, I submit to it. Like a seasoned prizefighter, proud and confident of victory, I think to myself, “bring it on.” I let the contraction unleash its force, I let it squeeze and push and pull me. I surrender.

The rushes continue, they intensify, they crowd my being, and I welcome them. All aspects of my being rise to the surface and I transform into my most primal self… As the first rush begins to rise from within, I am daisy in the wind, pure and vulnerable. My head is bowed, my neck is loose, my shoulders are heavy – I sway to the rhythm and the wind of my labor… As the rush heightens, my daisy-self morphs into a tigress, formidable and powerful. My legs are strong and firm on the ground. I am keenly aware of my surroundings, sharply protective of my space, my body, and my baby. I prowl back and forth, purring under the gentle strokes my midwife brushes down my back. For now I am as tame as a kitten, but the wild tiger within lays in wait, ready for anything.

The rush continues to build in its strength and then it peaks, the strongest peak yet, and my tiger emerges like a hurricane – wild and raging. My back arches against the sting of the contraction, my hair is loose and wild and everywhere. I growl, I moan, I roar, I surge…and then I remember – I can’t escape this force, I can’t go over it, can’t go under it – only way out is through it. With this realization, I move into the eye of the storm. I am still with all that is me. Though the contraction whips and rushes through me, I am steady and I am calm. Here in the quiet, I transform once again now into flame, purposeful and illuminating…sweaty and glowing with the glory of becoming mother.

My husband gives me space to be all that I am. He knows this is a world to which he cannot attach. Awed by the force of it all, he prays silently in the corner. I don’t hear his words; only feel their honesty and intensity. I sense he means whatever it is that he is saying, and that feels good. I feel safe with him nearby, his prayer: a protection and a shield.

My midwife wordlessly rubs scented oils down my back. The sweet smell of lavender, clarie sage, rose and jasmine rise all around me. Her touch is ecstasy…. From the small of my back, to my hips, down my legs – all the tension stored in my muscles evaporate beneath her fingers. With each stroke I melt into a deeper and deeper Calm. Her touch reminds me to let go.

I have made a communion with my body and my soul. They are functioning as one whole. Every movement I make and sound I emit comes from a place so deep and innate, so primal. I know I have crossed worlds. I am very present, but I am not “here.” I am in “labor land.” Time does not exist where I am, fear is not welcome. In this land, I am free to sweat, to groan, to rest, to squat, to smile, and to ache. There is no judgment here, just support and love. In between the rushes I send up prayer for all women to feel this blessed.

I feel G-d cradling me in His mighty Arms, He rocks me back and forth to the rhythm of this birth. “This is what your body was created to do.” He whispers. “Okay” I answer, “Okay.” He is my metronome, I sway to His beat. There is nothing else. I am ready.

My body opens like a rose unfolding to the day’s first light and my sweet baby girl descends from her Eden inside and into the garden of this world below. She brings with her a piece of the World to Come. She is covered in its dew, pink with its secrets, and ripe with beginning. She is a part of me, of him and of Him. She is the connection to all that came before us and all that lies ahead.

I am higher than I have ever been. She has eyes and a mouth, little pink, fuzzy shoulders and legs that kick. She is so real. I am drunk with her beauty. A new soul was born from inside of me. Cast from our union, shaped by love and prayer, molded by hope and faith. My baby girl looks at me. She sees me. Eyes wide open to the wonder of it all. There is nothing else than this moment.

She is born, and so I am.

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Some history

One of my birthing moms gave me an interesting book to read, “A Drop Of Milk”, Every object tells a tale 7, compliments of, The Isaac Kaplan Old Yishuv Court Museum.

The percentage of child mortality in Israel in the 19th century until the British Mandate [1917] was 80%.  Four out of five children did not live to see their first birthday.  Today according to the Ministry of Health published in 2008, the percentage of infant mortality today is 2.28 per 1000 births in the Jewish population in Israel [under 0.25%].

Causes of this shocking statistic included shared bathrooms, deficient hygienic conditions, polluted water pits, early marriages, and a shortage of medications.

We certainly have come a long way…

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Giving birth at home: the experience in Israel

One of the best ways to give your baby the best start is to give birth in the most comfortable atmosphere – for both you and him/her. For many women, that comfortable atmosphere is in their own home.

I have been delivering babies in Israel for decades, starting out in Jerusalem’s Misgav Leidach hospital and then Hadassah hospital in Ein Kerem. After years of working within the system of institutions, I moved on to helping women where they could really reach their best birthing potential – at home.

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