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Nov 11 2014

Why This Daughter of a Midwife Gave Birth at Home

By at 3:49 pm

Credit: Laura Miller


My mom is a midwife. Throughout my childhood, she delivered babies in hospitals. She stroked my head to sleep while on the phone with women in early labor. Long before I learned how a baby is made, I understood that one isn’t in active labor until you can no longer walk and talk through contractions. I picked up on the meanings of “bloody show” and learned that babies come at all hours. While there were inconveniences, there was one big upside: insider knowledge. Friends’ moms disappeared, reemerging with squishy, pink siblings. How it all went down, nobody knew. Except me.

My mom’s career began as a scientist, running a laboratory. A data-driven, rational bent extends into her midwifery practice, which is to say that she is on the more medical end of the midwifery spectrum. But like all midwives, she believes in staying with women throughout labor, helping us birth our babies in our own ways. I also learned as a child that an obstetrician is not inherently better or worse than a midwife, but offers different services and sometimes a different philosophy. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 18 2014

Some Promises Are Made to be Broken

By at 2:31 pm


This post is part of our Torah commentary series. This Shabbat we read Parashat Mattot. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

My vows about what kind of pregnant lady I’d be went out the window early, when I realized that eating an entire bag of gingersnaps would cure my morning sickness.

I had a lot of ideas about what kind of pregnant lady I’d be (cute, active, not too huge); what kind of birth I’d have (natural, empowering); and what kind of mom I would be (cute, active, not too emotional). Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 27 2014

What If Moses Just Needed an Afternoon Off?

By at 11:34 am


This post is part of our Torah commentary series. This week we read Parashat Hukkat. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

Like many of us modern, educated ladies, I was spectacularly ignorant about babies until I had one a couple years ago. So the learning curve, similar to my pregnancy weight gain, was pretty damn steep.

Now, with baby #2 due in a month, I’ve been noticing how different it feels this time around, and taking stock of what I’ve learned…(Though yes, I know every baby’s different and I’ve been told a million times how much harder it is with two kids!) Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 8 2013

My Five Bests of 2012: New Baby, Old Car & More

By at 9:41 am

The internet is alive with posts and lists rounding up last year’s favorites and this year’s resolutions, as well as confessions of how many people have already broken them.

It’s about a week into the new year and it literally just occurred to me that I will have to start writing 2013 on my checks. Then again, I can’t recall the last time I actually used a paper check. I hadn’t even thought about making any resolutions nor reflecting on 2012 yet. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 26 2012

I Loved My Orthodox Jewish Doula

By at 11:11 am

Last week, Julie Satow expressed her disappointing experience with doulas during her first two births. This week, Avital offers a different perspective.

When I was six months pregnant with my son, my husband and I ended up moving to another state. We moved for a variety of reasons, and despite looking forward to our new location, it meant that we were now further away from both sets of parents as well as countless friends.

Our move shook up my plans for a homebirth. We didn’t have a support network in the area built up yet, and I couldn’t imagine we would get there in the three months left before my son was to be born. I wasn’t sure if we could pull one off without one. In retrospect, I had a very uneventful labor and birth that would have been perfectly suited for a homebirth, but ah… hindsight. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 5 2012

News Roundup: Prodigies, Tragedies, and a Hurricane Birth

By at 4:01 pm

All the parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read this week.

– Is it harder to raise a child with a disability, or a child genius? An article in this week’s New York Times Magazine examines the surprising similarities. (NYT)

– One mom faced a heartbreaking choice: deliver her baby early enough that it would be at risk for severe impairment, or do nothing and wait to miscarry. She wrote about her situation and her decision for Slate’s DoubleX blog. (Slate)

– A woman goes to a restaurant (with kids, presumably), orders $138 worth of food, and leaves no tip, instead writing, “Single mom, sorry” on the tip line. A photo of this receipt went viral this week, prompting lots of questions and judgements. (Washington Post)

– A professor whose study indicated that gay parents were ill-equipped to raise children now says that his research methods were flawed. His university has called an investigation, but the professor, Mark Regnerus, says he stands by his findings. (The Advocate)

– And this was a week of tragedies. The murder of the two Krim children in Manhattan, the two children swept away from their mother during Hurricane Sandy on Staten Island, and a child killed after falling into an exhibit at the Pittsburgh zoo. Our hearts go out to all of those grieving. (NYT/ABC)

– Finally, some happy news: a woman went into labor in the middle of the hurricane in New Jersey. Though she wasn’t planning a home birth she did wonderfully, and all despite the lack of power or water during the birth. Mom and baby are both doing well. (Huffington Post)

Jul 16 2012

How I Went from Epidurals to Homebirths

By at 2:45 pm

homebirth bedroomWith all those posts about epidurals last week, I just had to respond with my own.

I was an epidural girl at one point in my life–so I very much relate to those who prefer them. In fact, at my first birth, I had no real plan for my birth except to get that epidural ASAP. And I did. And it was wonderful! I was being induced and after trying to make it through the unbearable contractions for hours while they pumped me full of pitocin that epidural was a God-send! Read the rest of this entry →

May 29 2012

News Roundup: Public Dollars for Jewish Day Care, The Founding Mother of Natural Birth

By at 4:45 pm

The Jewish parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read this week.

kveller news roundup 5/29/12

– A pretty terrific roundup of the most recent parenting books, and why American mothers are so quick to read them all. The focus here is on French feminist Elisabeth Badinter and her somewhat weird take on motherhood. (The Nation)

– While we’ve been complaining about the lack of Jewish day care, a little-known Hasidic network just got a $31 million contract for subsidized day care programs. How’d that happen? (The Forward)

– Meet Ina May Gaskin: the founding mother (no pun intended) of the natural-birth movement. This 72-year-old midwife is still delivering babies on her farm in Tennessee. She’s never had malpractice insurance, has never been sued, and if you live in Brooklyn and are pregnant, you probably have her book. (NYT)

A new study out says that soy-based formulas are just as safe for babies as milk-based ones. The study goes on to say that still, breast is best. (Huffington Post)

Apr 8 2011

Deliver Me Far Away From Home

By at 3:18 pm

Somebody get this kid some cheese!

As I contemplated the birth of my first son, I wasn’t particularly worried about logistics. I lived in New York City, and had no other children. I’d left my job a few weeks before my due date, and was spending beautiful autumnal days alone (though a pregnant woman is never really alone), strolling around Manhattan under gorgeous fall leaves, licking ice cream cones and knowing that when push came to shove, I could jump in a cab and get to my hospital across town.

The birth of my second son, however, was scarier to imagine. Things were different at that point: I lived in the suburbs, and was the work-from-home parent of an 18-month-old toddler who clung to me like a barnacle on the Jolly Roger. As I pushed my cart through the aisles of the local mega-Shop Rite, looking into my kid’s cherubic face, I wondered, not-so-idly:  if my water breaks here, what the hell happens? Do I plunk the kid down by his favorite cheeses (the Laughing Cow ones that he likes so much he actually ate through the netting of the bag, the foil and the rind to get to them once) and tell him, “Wait here till someone you recognize shows up”? At least in the supermarket, there would be adults around, so things would somehow work out.

My biggest delivery fear was that I would deliver at home. (Cue Jaws music.)

Yes, I know home deliveries are usually attended by knowledgeable professionals in most cases. But what can I say: basically, when  you get down to it, I’m a wuss. At my Lamaze class, when we went around the room and were asked how we pictured the birth of our children, everyone else waxed rhapsodic about iPod mixes, being surrounded by loved ones, and the scent of eucalyptus. Me? I said, “If they can give me horse tranquilizers, that would be ideal.” If there had been an epidural sign-up sheet in advance, I’d have written my name in huge golden letters across the whole page. So home delivery? Oh, no, no, no. The only things I want delivered at home are well-chosen items contained in FedEx, UPS, Amazon, or pizza boxes. Okay, maybe Chinese or Thai as well. You get the picture.

Did you know that a THIRD of all mothers in the Netherlands give birth at home–intentionally?  But in most countries, health insurance won’t pay for home births, or so says this article in The Economist. Yet the trend continues. Read the rest of this entry →


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