Experts Pregnancy Panel for the Natural Minded Mama


Imeinu Pregnancy Panel

Experts Pregnancy Panel for the Natural Minded Mamma

Presented by Imeinu Birth Collective

Organized by Imeinu Doulas Steering Group

Wed, June 11, 2014 7:30 – 9:30pm



Welcome from our Founder; Wendy Kenin –  Imeinu Birth Collective Mission

Moderator: Shoshana Friedman-Hawk – Panelist Introductions

Panelists: On how their services support pregnancy, labor & early post postpartum

Midwife Lindy Johnson, CNM Alta Bates Hospital

Dr Aumatma Shah, Naturopathic Doctor & Homeopathy, Fertile Vitality Clinic

Allison Palandrani, PT, DPT Pelvic Health and Rehabilitation Center

Karen Josephs DC, Family Chiropractic

Shoshana Uribe  M.S., L.Ac., Manzanita Wellness

Introduction of Imeinu Doulas Steering Group, including IBCLC Lactation Consultants, Therapeutic Postpartum Practitioners, Birth & Postpartum Doulas & Childbirth Educators

Hilah Zohar, on Postpartum Therapeutic Care

Dahlia Frydman, on Lactation Consultation

Audience Q & A



Midwife Lindy Johnson, CNM Alta Bates Hospital

As a midwife of many years at Alta Bates, I am happy to report that natural childbirth is alive and well in the hospital. Choosing a midwife is essential to get the guidance and support you need. I started my practice in home birth and then added hospital birth, bringing the same confidence and commitment to protecting the normal process. I am now doing deliveries just at Alta Bates.  Women come to me from all walks of life. What they and there families share is a desire to be with a provider who will be with them however the journey unfolds, and a belief in birth itself. 510-644-0104

Dr Aumatma Shah, Naturopathic Doctor & Homeopathy, Fertile Vitality Clinic

Dr. Aum is a Naturopathic Doctor and Fertility/ Women’s Health Specialist. Her three month program to Fertility Success leads couples into their first trimester of pregnancy, having generally lesser symptoms and issues– even in older, “high risk” women. The importance of maintaining optimal blood sugar levels, nutrient levels, and other factors are crucial to a healthy pregnancy and a healthy postpartum. Working with diet, nutrition, and homeopathy, Dr. Aum helps women stay healthy through pregnancy towards healthy birth and beyond! Also, Dr. Aum offers lifestyle counseling that can help setup the whole family for an easeful transition when the baby arrives. Dr. Aum is a graduate of UBCNM and has been in practice for close to 10 years. She finds joy in helping create healthy families so that they can enjoy life and fulfill their fullest purpose together. 415-275-1733


Karen Josephs DC, Family Chiropractor

Dr. Karen is a family chiropractor, practicing in the East Bay since 1999, and more recently Marin County. She specializes in pediatric chiropractic, pregnancy care and expert wellness care for newborns to elders. She is certified in the Webster Turning protocol, NSA, BGI, BEST and advanced muscle and lymphatic release work. She travels anywhere in the Bay area for home or hospital visits up to 8-weeks postpartum. She is also a trained doula and has attended dozens of births. She lives in San Rafael with her 6-year old daughter and hosts new mama’s groups and alternative parenting support gatherings in her office in Lucas Valley. 415-295-5290

Allison Palandrani, PT, DPT Pelvic Health and Rehabilitation Center

Allison received a bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Sonoma State University and a clinical doctorate in physical therapy from the University of Southern California. She is a physical therapist specializing in pelvic floor dysfunction and treatment at the Pelvic Health and Rehabilitation Center in San Francisco. Allison is an active member of the International Pelvic Pain Society and is involved with community outreach and education in the Bay Area. 510-922-9836

Shoshana Uribe, L.Ac. Manzanita Wellness Clinic

Offering support on your journey to greater health and well-being…. Approaching you as a whole person, using acupuncture, herbs, nutrition, massage, and other traditional healing wisdom. I work with a wide variety of diverse health concerns, including but not limited to: women’s health (including fertility/pregnancy/birth/post-partum), holistic pediatrics, digestion/nutrition, musculoskeletal issues, and easing challenges of life transitions by focusing on body, mind, and spirit. Both private and community sessions available. Spanish speakers are welcome. My practice is inspired by the body’s ability to heal and by a strong belief in our interconnectedness with the earth and each other. 510-459-9320


Representatives from Imeinu Doulas Steering Group


Shoshana Friedman-Hawk, Birth and Postpartum Doula

I firmly believe that as a Doula my role is to support both the birthing mother and her partner in having the birth that they desire. Through education and information, so that they can make informed choices. Through emotional support, so that they have the confidence to believe in themselves and the choices they make. Through physical comfort measures, so that the experience of childbirth can be more fully enjoyed.


Wendy Kenin, Birth Doula and Imeinu Founder

Wendy Kenin founded Imeinu Birth Collective in 2008 so that she could attend births at night while working and raising her four children during the day. With a passion for attending to the laboring mother, Wendy offers an informed and holistic approach to planning for birth and life transitions. Wendy prides herself in supporting homebirth, birth center, and hospital births while always providing a family-centered, homebirth environment whatever the setting. A certified domestic violence counselor, supporting women and families during birth is one aspect of her advocacy for women’s wellness and social change. Wendy blogs and provides social media “grassroots communications” coaching as Greendoula.


Hilah Zohar, Holistic Practitioner

Hilah has been a Birth Doula and Senior Prenatal and Postpartum Bodyworker with Imeinu Birth Collective for the past 5 years. She is pleased to be able to provide specialized personal postpartum healing care in the 4th trimester for new mothers. Hilah’s menu of special services help new moms get back into pre-pregnancy shape, back on their feet faster and regain their strength and energy for years to come. A graduate of San Francisco College of Acupuncture, Hilah has apprenticed and worked with many prominent practitioners. She has been a practitioner of Chinese Medicine Techniques and Herbal Remedies, Moxibustion, Swedish Massage, Lymphatic Massage Therapy and Visceral Manipulation for three decades. She attends women at any life stage, including but not limited to prenatal, birth, and postpartum.


Dahlia Frydman, IBCLC, ACHI Master Doula, NRP, PpD, Sleep Specialist

Mother, birth specialist, Licensed IBCLC Lactation Consultant, Sleep Specialist, naturalist and educator. Accredited by ACHI; Master Doula, Midwifery Assistant & NRP Certified. Practicing in Los Angeles since 2002. “From my perspective birth is a time of great trust and respect of nature’s wisdom, we allow the process to unfold. It is one of the most sacred and awe inspiring experiences of life. Attending to the mother to- be is a privilege and a joy I continually give thanks for.” 510-255-5885


Lori Jaffe

Lori Jaffe, a DONAtrainedBirth and Postpartum Doula, has facilitated diverse and empowering births in homes, birth centers and hospitals, throughout San Francisco and the East Bay. Lori’s comprehensive knowledge stems from her work as an administrator in the postpartum unit at Berkeley’s Alta Bates hospital. The mother of 3 children, Lori is also a substitute preschool teacher, co-owner of Oakland’s legendary Grand Bakery and is a trained massage therapist.


Barbara Wener, Birth and Postpartum Doula

A Labor & Postpartum Doula, Baby Planner and Placenta Specialist, Barbara lives in Concord and serves the San Francisco East Bay, Napa/Sonoma, and Marin.

This event was coordinated by the Imeinu Steering Group members

Dahlia Frydman

Shoshana Friedman-Hawk

Hilah Zohar

Lori Jaffe

Barbara Wener

Wendy Kenin, Founder

Imeinu Birth Collective

(510) 629-9346

How Dilated Am I? Assessing Dilation in Labor WITHOUT an Internal Exam


by Sarah Vine

It’s the magic question weighing on most laboring mothers’ minds: (as well as the minds of her partner or birth attendants!) How much longer? Is there any way to tell how far along I am in the birthing process? I’ve seen mothers beg for an internal exam and then be gutted about the answer (What? ONLY 4cm STILL!?) and suddenly *poof* she looses her resolve. It’s akin to having a test and finding out you’ve failed it, in front of your loved ones as well as complete strangers. Everyone knows this feeling is not conducive to labor – suddenly doubt and fear slide in and the laboring mother feels tense. Her oxytocin levels (our body’s natural pain-killer and labor inducer) take a nose dive and immediately she feels much more pain and she starts to run away from the contractions.

Happily, there are a number of external cues that can help you and birth partners get clued in to how much labor is advancing. Some are more subtle than others, but if you are ignoring the clock and keeping focused on staying in tune with your body, you will see them. Listen, embrace, wait.  Enjoy the way it responds! It is amazing what it can do, this body that God gave you.

1. Sound. The way you talk changes from stage to stage in labor. With the first contractions, you can speak during them if you try, or if something surprises you, or if someone says something you strongly disagree with. You may be getting into breathing and moving and ignoring people – but if you really want to you can raise your head and speak in a normal voice. When the contraction disappears you can chat and laugh at people’s jokes and move about getting preparations done. During established labor, There is very little you can do to speak during a contraction. You feel like resting in between, you are not bothered what people are doing around you. As you near transition and birth, you seem to go to ‘another’ level of awareness – it’s almost like a spiritual hideaway. You may share this with someone else, staring into their eyes with each surge, or you may close them and go into yourself. In between surges you stay in this place. It is imperative for birth assistants and partners to stay quiet and support the sanctity of this space: there are no more jokes, and should be as little small talk as possible. Suddenly, the sounds start to change involuntarily: you may have been vocalizing before (moaning, talking and expressing your discomfort, singing, etc) or you may have been silent. Listen – there are deep gutteral sounds along with everything you have heard before, just slipping in there. You are about to start pushing.

2. Smell. There is a smell to birth, that hits towards the end of dilation, during intense labor, just before birth. It is a cross between mown hay and semen and dampness. It has a fresh, yet enclosed quality, and is pervasive. The Navelgazing Midwife has also observed this scent and writes about it here.

3. IrrationalityI love this clue – it often is a sign of transition. It always makes me smile, and I always warn women about this phenomenon so that when we hit it during labor I can remind them that what they’ve just said is irrational, and that I told her this would happen, and here it is! Relax, it means we’re nearing the end. Sometimes a mother will say she wants to go home, she is done now she’ll come back and do this later, she wants to put on her trousers and coat and go out the door. A mother who wants a natural birth and has been coping brilliantly will suddenly say she was crazy and needs pain killers right now, or that she didn’t want another baby anyways, who said they wanted a baby? Some will just curl up and say they’re going to sleep now. If she does this, that’s okay. The contractions may die down, get farther apart, and maybe she (and the baby) will get a few minutes of sleep. This slowed down transition sometimes freaks out doctors or hospital midwives and pitocin is offered – try to see if you can put them off for half an hour. Send every one out, lie on your left side propped up by pillows and have a little nap before pushing; it is such a wonderful gift.

4. Feel. Here come some of the more fun tools that you might not have heard of before! Think about the shape of the uterus. Before labor, the muscle of the uterus is thick evenly around all sides, above, below, behind. As the cervix starts thinning and dilating, all that muscle has to go somewhere – it bunches up at that top. The top of the uterus thickens dramatically the more the cervix opens. During a contraction, at the beginning of labor, check how many fingers you can fit between the fundus (top of your bump) and the bra line – you will be able to fit 5 fingers. As the top of the fundus rises higher during labor, you will fit fewer and fewer fingers. When you can fit 3 fingers, I usually tell mothers they can think about going into hospital as they will find they are around 5cm dilated. At 1 finger, you are fully dilated. (Awesome, huh! Here is a blog post by a woman who describes in great detail checking her own cervix just before she went into labor.)

5. Look. There is something called the ‘bottom line’, which is shadow that extends from the anus up towards the back along the crease of the buttocks. It begins as 1cm and lengthens to 10cm, and it’s length correlates with cervical dilation. Why not look down there before inviting a stranger to put their fingers up inside you? It makes sense to me. Here is current research verifying the existence of the bottom line, and in their trial it was measurable and had acceptable accuracy for 76% of women checked.

6. Gooey Stuff. Also known as bloody show; there is usually one at around 2-3 cm dilation, and it can happen during the beginning of labor or a few days before hand. Sometimes it’s hard to know what is or isn’t a show, since during the days before labor the amount of vaginal mucus increases in preparation and this can be confusing. A show is up to a couple of tablespoons in quantity, so quite a lot. It can be clear, but is usually streaked with pink, brown, or bright blood. If there is more than a couple of tablespoons of blood then you do need to go straight into hospital to make sure the placenta is not detaching, but if there is just a bit and then it stops, then it is just show. There is a SECOND show at around 8cm dilation. This second show means that birth is near.

7. Opening of the Back. This is just at the spot where your birth partner has been doing lower back massage, at the area above the tailbone. It is a little smaller than palm sized, rather kite-shaped area that bulges out during pushing. At this point you’ve waited too long to go into hospital, and you need to refer to my last post, 4 rules of what to do when delivering a baby!

8. Check yourself. Okay, so technically this one is an internal check, but it done by YOU. You don’t have to announce the results or write them down: it is not an exam. To me it’s obvious that as the owner of your body, you have more of a right than anyone else to feel comfortable with it and understand how it works. It is best to get to know what your own cervix feels like from early on in your pregnancy, if not before, and then to keep a regular check on what feels normal. If you do this through out your pregnancy you will keep your flexibility into the 9th month. This is also an excellent time to remind you to not neglect perineal massage since you’re already down there! Check out the website My Beautiful Cervix to see photos and descriptions of what a cervix should feel like. At 1 cm you can fit the tip of one finger inside. Use a ruler to practice discerning how many centimeters dilation feels like, measuring with your pointer and middle finger. This visual aid is also a cute way to imagine dilation. NOTE: Always, always, always wash your hands thoroughly beforehand, up to the elbows, for 4 minutes at least. Do not assess your own dilation after your waters have gone.

For more labor tips and information about external assessment of dilation, I recommend finding a copy of Anada Lowe’s book, The Doula Guide to Birth, Secrets Every Pregnant Woman Should Know.  This is one book packed with practical and useful information!

This post first appeared at Helping Mothers Give Birth Joyfully Without Fear: A doula in California blog by Sarah Vine.

Sitz Herbs in the Doula’s Birth Bag; One Midwife’s Perspective



by Deborah Simone, Midwife

All of us have been taught that after the birth of a baby we should put an ice pack on the Mama’s bottom. But truth be told, this is a fairly new Western medical practice, that once closely examined, turns out to be lacking in value & is actually somewhat harmful.

In Chinese medicine, the teaching is to heat the mothers after the birth. Many indigenous cultures also have some form of Mother Roasting- keeping the mother & baby very warm, feeding them hot soups or gruels and keeping the Mother/Baby dyad secluded for some weeks after the birth. When we look at these practices from an anthropological perscpective, we recognize that they must impart some benefit to the individuals, as well as the community, or they would not have become codified into the culture.

While many of us birth workers are aware of these practices and may even incorporate them into our postpartum protocols, most of us still continue to put ice packs on Mamas’ bottoms, without applying our critical analysis to this one small piece of the process.

While applying ice to cool a hot nerve, or for use as a numbing agent has some value, it has no business on woman’s yoni after birth. Instead, following the Chinese way of applying a hot tea of soothing herbs is much more beneficial & effective. Heat increases circulation, which allows the fluids sitting in the tissues to be carried away, while fresh oxygenated blood brings nutrients and speeds healing. If we accept that blood placed in a freezer will solidify, what do we think happens to tissues full of fluids when we keep icing them? Far from being beneficial or even benign, this procedure keeps Mama bottoms from healing as well or quickly as they might otherwise.

At a homebirth, we delay assessing the perineum in the two hours post birth. (This assumes no excessive bleeding that needs to be dealt with). During that time we are placing fresh hot compresses on the Mama’s bottom every 10 to 15 minutes. What we have discovered since implementing this procedure is, that by two hours, much of the swelling is gone and often a tear that looked like it would require stitches will lie together so nicely, it is hard to see, even when the Mama’s legs are splayed open during the exam.

Obviously incorporating the use of these herbs is well within the Doula scope of practice, but will require a bit of adaptation, especially for hospital births. It would be very easy to put together a postpartum packet for a small fee for the clients: 1.5 cups of the herbs, 1 muslin tea bag and 1 dozen wash-clothes (to be cut up).

I can see a couple of possibilities for the preparation of the herbs. Doulas who meet their laboring clients at hospital could prep the herbs at their own home, cut up the wash-clothes and bring the herb tea already hot, in a thermos to the hospital. A second batch would be made for the client once she returned home and kept hot in a crock pot.

If the Doula is with her client at home prior to birth, herbs could be prepped there, as well as setting up everything for the client’s return home.

It is understood that at hospital, the assessment of tissues after birth is not going to be delayed for two hours, and in fact, probably not at all. We can barely get them to wait 3 minutes to cut the cord! But this does not mean the tea would be any less effective. Once the doctor or Midwife has finished suturing, the Doula would simply remind the nurse that, in her birth plan, the Mother declined to use ice pacs in favor of hot compresses and begin applying them, while the Mama is helping her baby find the breast. This is also a great way for the Doula to be close to Mother/Baby, able to unobtrusively observe, offer suggestions and assist with promoting latch.

Supplies & Instructions

The herbs: Uva Ursi, Yarrow, Plantain leaf, Sage leaf, Witch hazel leaf, Comfrey leaf & root

Sea salt

1 dozen wash-clothes: 4 cut in 1/2, the remainder cut into quarters.

1 muslin tea bag with draw string

16-20 oz Thermos

Client’s home set up:

Crock pot

1 clean long-neck bottle w/a funnel (like a Martinelli’s bottle)

Peri Bottle (Mama brings home from hospital)

Container with lid for discarding used rags

Place 1/2 herbs into muslin tea bag, tie w/a bow (you will need to undo it to make the 2nd batch)

Bring 1qt water to boil, turn heat to lowest possible setting, add tea bag. Cover and allow to steep for several hours. Fill thermos, and bring it with the eight 1/2 wash-clothes to hospital. After repairs are done, fold the clothes in thirds length-wise and pour tea long-ways down the center. Make it wet, but not dripping. Test on Mama’s thigh as tolerance is individual. Lay over her yoni, discard and change every 10-15 mins. This will take you thru the first two hours postpartum, after which the Mother/Baby will be ready to go to sleep.

Before going to hospital, empty the tea bag, rinse and hang somewhere to dry. When meeting the Mother/Baby at home for your 1st postpartum visit, refill the tea bag with the rest of the herbs, place it in her crock pot, cover with boiling water. Set the crock on Keep Warm. Instruct client to leave tea bag in pot and simply add water as level drops. The crock and the rest of the cut wash-clothes go in the bathroom.

Fill the Martinelli’s bottle with the tea. Explain to the Mama that she should use this to fill her peri bottle 1/3, then add hot water, to make a warm wash for cleansing after pee or poo. After she goes to toilet, she should take a rag, fold it into thirds length-wise, dip into the crock, using the lid to press out excess tea. She places this on her bottom for 2+/- minutes, discards & repeats the process one or two more times. The rags can be washed as often as necessary, but must not be re-dipped. The Mama will do this for between 3 and 10 days, depending on her tear & individual constitution with regards to healing time.

Rebozo Workshop with Gena Kirby Aug 25, 2013 Berkeley


Register: http:/

Facebook Event:


Wendy Kenin, Founder, Imeinu Doulas 510-504-4937
Samsarah Morgan, Founder, Birth Professionals of the Bay Area 510-496-3491

Video Testimonials of the Workshop from Berkeley Participants

Photos in Imeinu’s  Flickr Set:

Berkeley Ca Rebozo Workshop with Gena Kirby

Social image set on Imeinu’s facebook page:


“Homebirth For Doulas” Workshop – #EastBay #Oakland 7/24/13


Wednesday, July 24, 6-9PM

This three hour workshop is essential to any doula who plans to attend births at home. This workshop is instructed by Juli Tilsner, LM Homebirth Midwife of Awakenings Birth Services.

Topics covered:

– Differences in labor management techniques at home and in the hospital

– Midwives expectations

– Homebirth specific tricks and tools

– Communication with the birth team

This workshop will be confirmed when at least 8 doulas have registered.

Notification of exact location will be sent upon registration.
Order tickets via Eventbrite:

View on facebook.

Jewish Women’s Mitzvah Class – Separating the Challah :: Rosh Chodesh Nisan 5773

Click the image to view the album of our Rosh Chodesh Adar 5773 class on facebook!

Click the image to view the album of our Rosh Chodesh Adar 5773 class on facebook!

Doula Devorah Leah Romano and Rebbetzin Miriam Ferris will guide us to make dough and “separate the challah” with the appropriate blessing according to Jewish law. We are Jewish women raising Jewish families, and practicing how it’s done! Participants will be asked to bring their own ingredients and extra-large bowls.

Of course, we’ll do some Jewish learning too! Mrs. Ferris will share the secrets of challah baking as elucidated in the kabbalistic book for women “Ohel Rochel.” The method we will use for making the dough is a type of mystical challah baking according to Kabbalah. It is beautiful, and makes so much sense to know a Jewish way of baking.

Please bring your own ingredients:
3/4 cups sugar or honey
3/4 cups oil
1 1/2 tbsp salt
4 1/2 tbsp yeast
3 1/2 cups water (or half eggs,half water)
5 pounds flour
clean dish towel
measuring cup and measuring spoons
large mixing bowl (Ikea sells a sturdy inexpensive one!)

Please RSVP to receive location information.

This event is taking place in observance of Rosh Chodesh Nisan!

This event is cosponsored by Chabad of Berkeley. View this event on facebook here.

Post Partum Nutrition and Herbs

by Lauren Samuel
Mothering the Mother after birth is vital to her continued strength and future health, from the physical to the emotional and spiritual. The post partum period is considered the ‘fourth trimester’ by conscious and discerning health care practitioners. It is a period of reintegration and recuperation.

“Preparation for the fourth trimester should begin prenatally. There is nothing more important than connecting pregnant women with one another, or better still, with those who have recently given birth. Prenatal classes or support groups may serve to accomplish this, but however it happens, it is not optional.” – Elizabeth Davis – Hearts and Hands.

During pregnancy, labour and birth, and afterwards with breastfeeding, a woman is giving continuously of her life force. It is vital that she is replenished afterwards to ensure her complete recovery. Elder women’s wisdom speaks of proper care during the childbearing years easing the discomforts of menopause. More immediate still;

“The better she feels, the more easily she will integrate her new role and learn to distinguish the needs of her child from her own. Care of new mothers assures survival of the species, but more than that, it positively affects the quality of life for us all,” – Elizabeth Davis – Hearts and Hands.

Ain’t that the truth!

Many cultures around the world stress the importance of keeping the mother warm – literally and metaphorically not leaving her out in the cold!

Women are incredibly opened by birth and susceptible to chill and energy loss. During the moon that follows birth, a woman is given only warming foods with warming spices, healing teas and tonics. She is attended by the entire family and community to ensure she has enough rest, comfort, food and herbs and assistance with household responsibilities.

The range of time spent indoors and resting ranges from culture to culture as well as needs, but the aim is restore balance through total care. Cold foods, hair washing and being in cold weather are discouraged due to the heat lost through childbirth.

Often fires were built in the rooms near the mother, or steam baths were used to bring warmth as well as healing to the perineum and pelvic area.

Pelvic Steam Baths relax spasms, bring warmth and increase circulation, nourish the internal membranes, cleanse and promote healing.

Most herbs used for the steam baths are aromatics, combined with antispasmodic, antiseptic and soothing herbs.  They can be used fresh or dried. These include;

Calendula – anti microbial with wound and skin healing properties.

Lavender – antiseptic, antispasmodic, sedative, relaxing nervine.

Red Roses – astringent, relaxing, uplifting for emotional stress, sadness and depression, nervine.

Rosemary – antibacterial, stimulating, aids circulation

Basil – antispasmodic, sedative, nervine.

Lemon Balm – antispasmodic, antiseptic, nervine.

Other herbs include red raspberry leaf, myrrh, yarrow, comfrey leaf, nettles, oregano, witch hazel.

How to have a Vaginal Steam

Add two large handfuls fresh/one handful dry herbs to about a gallon of boiling water. Boil for 10 minutes and remove from heat. Let steep for 10 minutes.

You will need to set up a way for you to sit over the pot of steaming herbs. One way is to use an open slatted chair and place the pot on the floor below you. Another is to pour the herbs into a large rimmed stainless steel bowl that can fit inside your toilet, resting on the edge underneath the seat.

Remove clothing from waist down, leave on warm socks. Sit on chair or toilet over steaming herbs and wrap yourself with a blanket from waist down. Keep upper body warm too.

Relax over steam for 20 mins, reading, journaling or meditating.

Be careful not to burn yourself.. Test the steam before sitting down!

Keep warm after the pelvic steam. It is ideal to do before bed. If you are doing it at another time, make sure to warp yourself warmly up in bed for an hour afterwards. Avoid any chills or drafts for 24 hours afterwards.

Possible side effects; May include a temporary increase in flow including more debris and dark fluids. This is seen as an effect of cleansing.

Contraindication; Do not do if pregnant, menstruating, have an acute uterine infection, vaginal sores or blisters. Never add aromatherapy essential oils to the steam as these can burn your sensitive genital tissue.

Sitz Baths

Sitz Baths are another, more commonly practiced way of using herbs to heal the perineum and vagina after birth.. The principle is essentially the same, except that the area is placed directly in the water with the herbs, and often is combined with sea salt to aid any healing of tears and soreness.

Often women were wrapped with a special cloth or band to help the uterus and internal organs and tissues back into place. This is a valuable practice that can be combined with regular massage post partum to help ease pains and bring comfort from pregnancy, labour and the after pains of the uterus contracting back into place.

Benefit of Herbs and Nutrition Postpartum

Blood building and nourishment are essential after birth; Often this has been traditionally done by the use of soups and stews and bone broths – often using herbs that clear the afterbirth and uterus and prevent infection as well as toning and nourishing the tissues and blood. There are many recipes for nutrition after birth, that vary with culture and taste as well as availability. I am going to focus more on Herbs that are useful for tonifying, nourishing and fortifying, which include;

Nutritive Herbs:

These are tonic herbs akin to foods, often containing vitamins and minerals in abundance. They are building and nourishing and can be taken over long periods of time.

Milky Oats – Avena Sativa.. contains Vitamin B complex which sustains our energy and soothes our nervous system. It is great for convalescence, depression, debility, exhaustion, anxiety, insomnia and is generally an excellent tonic for the overworked or overstressed, those who live on too much caffeine or nervous energy.

Alfalfa -Medicago Sativa – cooling, sweet, astringent herb that gently cleanses, controls bleeding and is rich in minerals such as potassium, magnesium and calcium as well as vitamins A,D, E and K as well as chlorophyll and carotene.

Nettles – Urtica Dioca – Urtica is one of the finest nourishing tonics. It is reputed to have more chlorophyll than other herbs and contains vitamins A,C, D and K, and minerals calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, Silica and Iron. It is a nourishing tonic for weakness, debility and anaemia. Nourishing to mother and baby during and post pregnancy. Aids kidney and bladder function and gently cleanses wastes. Nettle seeds are an adrenal tonic and restorative. Astringency can help check bleeding and contains vitamin K – can be used in sitz baths after birth. Useful in stimulating and nourishing breast milk.

Gotu Kola – Hydrocolyte asiatica – good combined with other nervines, reduces nervous exhaustion whilst promoting mental clarity. A connective tissue tonic, helps restore tone to ligament and uterine tissues, as well as useful for varicose veins as a circulatory tonic.

Red Raspberry Leaf – Rubus Ideaus – Increases fertility in both men and women, especially when combined with red clover.

Raspberry leaf is astringent and tonic – strengthens and tones and relaxes uterus, and entire pelvic area.  Contains fragarine – an alkaloid that gives tone to uterine muscles and indeed tones and nourishes the whole body. It is the famous herb of pregnancy and great to use before during and after birth. Contains Vitamins A, C, E, B complex and easily assimilated calcium and iron as well as phosphorus and potassium among other minerals.

Rosehips – Excellent source of vitamin C as well as astringent and diuretic, benefitting kidneys and easing constipation. Aids the absorption of iron. Contains Vit A which is useful in nourishing immune system.


Catnip – Nepeta Cataria – Gentle, relaxing, antispasmodic, great for mama and baby for both after pains as well as colic symptoms.. Can be used in gripe water with slippery elm, fennel and chamomile.

Chamomile – relaxing, anti- inflammatory, antispasmodic, good for nervous tummies.  Aids relaxation and well being inside and out.

Passionflower, – relaxing sedative, night time tea, aids insomnia.

Lavender – Gentle, relaxing, soothing, good for insomnia and aids let down reflex where due to tension and stress.

Lemon Balm – Calming, aids digestion, antispasmodic, antiviral, relaxing nervine – passes through to babe.

Skullcap – On edge, excited, much on mind, new changes, overstimulation, blues, exhaustion from lack of rest.

Vervain – Helps when irritable, on edge, angry, had enough, might lose it, great combined with milky oats and skullcap in tincture.  Also good for PMS, mood swings when your moon cycle starts again soon after birth.

Galactagogues to help increase the flow of breastmilk

There are many herbs that increase the flow of breast milk.. Here i will focus on a few that I personally know and have used.

Vitex – Agnus castus.. a merits berry for women if ever there was one!

Vitex is a reproductive tonic that rebalances our hormones by stimulating and normalizing the pituitary gland function. It is therefore useful for PMS, menstrual cramps, menopause, and after using birth control pills, as well as a long term fertility aid. It helps with irritability, depression, headaches, anger,pms as well as menopausal symptoms – and can raise the level of progesterone in cases where women are estrogen dominant.. thus useful for shrinking fibroids, regulating cycles and aiding fertility. Improvements of various conditions can be felt in as little as two months, although more lasting results take from 6 months to a year or longer. Vitex nourishes the supply of breast milk.

Blessed Thistle – Great in the first few weeks after birth as it helps with uterine bleeding and milk irritability. Helps aid milk production by stimulating blood supply to the mammary glands and good for sluggish digestion too.. It is bitter and best taken as tincture.

Fennel Seeds – great taste, improve milk production as well as digestion.

Fenugreek Seeds – Strong maple like taste that exudes from your pores. Increases milk production fast.

Best used with alfalfa, raspberry leaf, nettles, and marshmallow root.

After Birth pains

Motherwort is great for fatigue, cramps and to aid relaxation. It is a bitter nervine, moves stuck heart and womb energy ( it is an emmenagogue, therefore not to be taken during pregnancy), great for palpitations, temperature and mood irregularities.

Calcium/Magnesium is great for after pains as is chamomile, lemon balm, oat straw, nettle, wild yam, red raspberry and partridge berry.

Stronger herbs include cramp bark and black haw and blue cohosh – relaxes smooth muscles in uterus and whole pelvic area. Relieves and reduces after pains.


Dandelion Root, Yellow dock root, Nettles, Rosehips.

Yellow Dock root helps the body retain Iron, rose hips contain Vitamin C. which increases Iron absorption.

After Birth Tea

Oranges, lemons, Ginger, Cardamon, Cinnamon sticks, Lemongrass, Raspberry, Borage, Star Anise and Honey.

Grate ginger, add cinnamon sticks and star anise to a large pot of water, bring to boil and simmer for 25 mins. Add oranges and lemons for ten minutes. Add rest of the ingredients and let steep. Strain and add honey. If you prefer this can be made with red wine instead of as a tea.

For Shakes, chills, sweats after birth , grate fresh ginger root and steep for 10-15 mins with 2tsp panax ginseng and dried licorice root.

Also Cinnamon tea – 1/2 tsp powder to 1 cup water or milk. Sweeten with honey if desired.

NechamaComfort: San Francisco/Bay Area Chapter


Imeinu is proud to host a San Francisco/Bay Area Chapter of NechamaComfort, dedicated to helping all family members who have experienced infant and pregnancy loss at any time in their lives. A registered nonprofit 501c3 organization based in New York, NechamaComfort was founded by Director Reva Judas, a certified infant pregnancy loss facilitator and certified chaplain.

Margie Green

Led by Rebbetzin Margie Green, Imeinu’s California Chapter of NechamaComfort will hold a support group for mothers and family members that will meet regularly, and will serve as a resource of Jewish approaches to healing from child loss. NechamaComfort offers many services to family members, clergy, members of the community, and medical personnel.

Some of the topics addressed include:

  • What is infancy/pregnancy loss
  • Understanding the grief
  • Phases of bereavement
  • The Jewish view
  • Family and community response
  • Comfort

Perinatal loss includes:

  • Miscarriage
  • Ectopic Pregnancy
  • Medical interruption
  • Stillbirth
  • Newborn death
  • Twin or high order birth loss

Infant/pregnancy loss is different from other losses and can result in physical, emotional, and social challenges. Spiritual effects of the loss commonly involve questioning of one’s core beliefs. Considerations for a Jewish loss situation may involve hospital remembrances, naming, preparation and burial, shiva, yahrtzeit, and yizkor. Nechama’s approach supports the entire family unit and extended community.

If you are in need of educational speakers or NechamaComfort’s counseling services, please contact Margie Green 510-356-4489 or email In case of emergency, call at any hour.

Meet the Doulas Night! March 3, 2013


Meet the Doulas!

Sunday March 3, 2013 6­-8pm

Manzanita Wellness Clinic
2818 San Pablo Avenue
Berkeley 94702

Join other expectant parents at our Meet the Doulas Night to get answers your questions about pregnancy, breastfeeding, birth planning, childbirth and postpartum doula services and prenatal and postnatal massage.

Here you can learn what doulas do; how they work with mothers, husbands, partners and other birth support including medical staff. Find out what benefits having a doula brings to the birthing experience and the transition to parenthood.

The evening will consist of a circle of doulas and expectant parents. The doulas will talk about their role in the birth/post partum process. A question and answer period will follow. Other services such as massage, herbal/nutritional advice, and other types of support will also be discussed. Members of Imeinu’s extended network of birth professionals will also be present.

Please RSVP

Facebook Event:

Miriam Danced Through Labor


The Birth of Emanuel 6/12/07 4:53 born 8 lb 11 oz A beautiful day it was June 11, 2007 bright sunshine and blue sky. I spent the morning working with the plants and soil, cleaning and organizing the house and making phone calls (work related.) I was overcome with a feeling of frustration and fear of the unknown ahead of me. How would I support my baby? What work will I find? Who will take care of my son? What will happen with my partner?? I decided nature would cure my feelings of despair so I went and took a hike with my mother in Tilden which felt very healing and definitely got things moving inside me. I released my fears and prayed for guidance. My mom then nourished me with a good chicken meal and I left to go to Melita’s birthday party. The house was filled with beautiful people, women either pregnant, with baby or toddler. The energy was so supportive and everyone gave me their blessings for my easy labor and that it should be soon. Jessica Ezra worked on my shoulders and my acupressure points on my feet and ankles and hands. I felt a little wet in my underwear, but figured it was nothing. I went home and ate dinner and got ready for bed. Just after my shower as I was about to get into bed my waters broke and began to flow at 11:45 pm. My body shook with great excitement as I knew that was it. I was in labor – a process that would be long, beautiful, intense, painful and bring Emani into my arms. I emptied my bowel and lots more water into the toilet. I then laid down remembering that I should try and rest to conserve my energy for active labor. I laid down in my bed, surrounded myself with candles and beautiful music. I entered a place of deep peace and rested a couple of hours. Into the night my contractions began to come on, so sweet and mellow energy every 3-6 minutes. I could breath through them and focus into the music and I was fine. Amir laid beside me in and out of sleep, but I was mostly alone, through the night warmed by the sounds of the Native American flute, Hariprasad, Indian Raga, and soundtracks of rivers flowing. Between contractions I prayed from my prayer book (comprised of prayers for all of my friends and community) and prayed for myself and Emani to have a peaceful union in this world. Through the night, each time I went to pee my mucus plus released and I bled into the toilet and into my pads. As the morning approached the contractions became a little more intense and regular and I knew it was time to start waking people up. My first call was to Wendy and she showed up at around 6 am. She timed my contractions and helped me find comfortable positions to work with. She called Jeri Zukoski my midwife, and we gave her a heads up that I was in labor. Then we called Jen Miriam who came quickly and then my mom who already had lost a night’s sleep knowing that I was in labor. My mom brought a siddur to pray, lots of food for my friends, and a bunch of jasmine that smelled amazing. I drank coconut juice throughout my labor which really gave me strength since I could not eat anything. Ice water was also great. Already by 6 am my contractions were one minute apart which made me need to completely focus on my labor with no real rest time to do anything but deep relaxing cleansing breaths. Jen Miriam was so amazing. She got me through each contraction by totally tuning her energy into my body either by putting deep pressure on my sacrum and lower back, or squeezing my hips together, squeezing my foot and sometimes my leg. Since my rushes were so intense, having intense counterpressure really helped.

Since my rushes were so intense, having intense counterpressure really helped.

The other way I got through my rushes was to be either on all fours or leaning over on a piece of furniture and swaying my hips side to side, doing large flat hip circles and flat figure eights. I relaxed my face muscles, moaned and made deep sounds from my gut. It sounded very sexual and I felt totally primal, uninhibited and deeply in trance. The water sounds really helped me flow through my rushes and I visualized my cervix opening each time. Jen had this amazing way of melting her body into mine in whatever strange position I was in and totally working through it with me. When she tells me the story of my labor she tells me that I danced through my labor which is so moving for me.

When she tells me the story of my labor she tells me that I danced through my labor which is so moving for me.

Another movement was sometimes at the climax and end of a rush. I would shoot a hand out with fingers spread wide out as if grabbing for something. It was like I was releasing these electric pulses of energy out through my hands and fingers. At about 10 am I went into the shower which was great. I either leaned forward with my hands on the bathtub and continued my hip dance or I squatted on a low stool and wailed out. Jen came into the bathroom and she played my frame drum and sang a Sufi chant to me over and over… for over an hour. It was so high. I will never forget her gorgeous silhouette figure with the large drum through the shower curtain. My rushes were constant and I used my low moan in rhythm and harmony with Jen’s song. I pray to never forget this moment of my labor. When I got out of the shower I must have been in transition since my voice changed and got louder and I was less able to communicate. I was so happy and thankful to be laboring at home and was really weary of going to the hospital. I really wanted to wait until the last minute, and in the back of my mind I thought maybe the baby would be born at home (by accident.) I threw up pretty violently and again emptied my stomach. By 1 pm my contractions were so intense I said, “I don’t think you can transport me to the hospital. If we have to go we better go now.” So I got in the back of Wendy’s van so that I could remain on all fours and not have to sit down. I felt like a wild dog, ready to escape a cage, but thank God the ride was short to Alta Bates. My mom followed in her car and Nuria followed in hers. Arriving at the hospital was intense. I continued to have rushes walking into the building. We had to keep stopping so I could lean over and have Nuria do the hip squeeze. In labor and delivery they told me to go to triage but when they saw my state they said just go to your room, room 22. It was really nice and spacious for a hospital room and even had a jacuzzi (although I was told to avoid it to avoid infection since my waters broke.) The shower was great, it was sort of broken but somehow Nuria got the showerhead to work and she had it on my abdomen consistently and someone else (my mom or Jen) poured water over my back. The nurse came in to check my dilation and I was 8 cm dilated!! It was such an exciting moment for all of us, and staying at home had been such a blessing. So we arrived at Alta Bates at 2 pm and I had 2 hours of really intense labor. The midwife showed up while I was in the shower, Nuria spraying me and my mom and Jen were singing to me two beautiful songs.

My mom and Jen were singing to me two beautiful songs.

She stood there with the nurse, they must have been so moved. The nurse was so sad to leave but her shift was over. One amazing miracle that happened was that the computer died so the nurses were totally unable to do any tracking of fetal monitoring. They just checked the baby’s heart rate with a hand held monitor (like a doppler used in homebirth.) I went back and forth from shower to bed where I was on all fours and using intense vocalizations. Jeri the midwife checked me at around 4 pm and said I was completely dilated (10 cm) but the baby was posterior and could not come out in that position, that may take him a while to rotate or she could manually rotate him. So I told her to go ahead. It hurt but I knew it was worth it and she so skillfully stuck her fingers up into my cervix and rotated the baby into the perfect position. It was amazing. She then told anytime I wanted, to to start pushing. This was intense and I started to try different positions for pushing. I tried all fours, I tried standing squat, the squatting bar. In each position it felt like the baby was going to burst through me too quickly so I decided to sit up in squat and use the bar to hold the sides and press my feet into. At first I just breathed the baby down with each contraction and the midwife said she could see a tiny patch of black hair and that if I start really pushing he was on his way out. They brought a mirror so I could see the top of his head – it was so emotional so I told them to move it. Then I really started to push as Jen encouraged me. It was scary, I felt like I was going to explode and I kept saying that and Nuria reassured me. I can do it, she kept giving me strength through each moment. Wendy also gave me strength. I knew that if I pushed with all my strength he would come flying out of me and I would tear bad so I had to learn to push hard with strength, but also hold back a tiny bit. In between contractions I had those peaceful moments of rest longer than I had throughout my entire labor. I used these moments to let myself relax and totally go limp, and it was nice to have the back of the bed to rest on. One moment I almost slept for a few moments and everyone was super quiet.

In between contractions I had those peaceful moments of rest longer than I had throughout my entire labor.

The last stages of pushing and as I crowned was so intense. I prayed to God for help and really used my voice. As he crowned I must have yelled out so loud. I have never heard my voice get so loud. It burned like crazy, but thank God Wendy came to the rescue and poured tons of olive oil down my perineum which really cooled the burn. When his head came through Jeri told me not to push but to pant and hold back. I stretched beautifully as his head emerged and then his elbow came tip first which ripped me, but not too bad at all. Jeri saw that the cord was wrapped around the baby’s head once and she slipped it over his head and said, “Okay, you gotta push him out now,” in a scary voice and I knew she was concerned. So I gave it my all and pushed him out which felt so good! What a high moment. I felt like I was flying and God was carrying me on to another world. No drug has ever made me feel so high.

What a high moment. I felt like I was flying and God was carrying me on to another world.

Everyone cried and Jeri placed him on my belly as he screamed out and turned bright pink. What a healthy baby he was, so beautiful and perfect. He only cried a few minutes and then he opened his eyes and stared deeply into my eyes. I was in tears of joy at meeting my little Emani. He was wide awake and we spent the next two hours in blissful bonding and falling in love. I was so high and felt so empowered by my birth. I wasn’t even the last bit exhausted but felt such amazing spiritual energy. I have never at any moment felt so close to God and so in love While I was crowning and pushing Emani out my mother lead two songs. One was, “I am opening up in sweet surrender to the luminous love light of the one.” The other was a psalm. As I write this birth story my heart aches with longing to experience birth again. With all of the intensity and pain and beauty, and empowerment. I can’t wait for my next birth… please God let me be blessed. I also pray that all women can be so blessed to have such beautiful births.

I also pray that all women can be so blessed to have such beautiful births.

Jeri stitched me up really well, which hurt a little bit but since Emani was at my breast nothing really mattered. He even latched on and started to suck which helped the placenta come out. Jeri waited for the cord to stop pulsing before cutting it which was really nice. The 2 hours following the birth were great. Noone bothered me and Emani just laid on my breast in total peace. Then the nurse came back, wiped him off with warm wash cloths, put drops in his eyes and weighed him. 8 pounds 11 ounces! Wow, that’s a lot! No wonder I felt like I was going to explode when he came out. When the women parted from my birth I cried in thanks and love as each one left the delivery room and they all hugged me as well. I never could have done it without them.

I never could have done it without them.

The nurse gave him the vitamin K shot while I nursed him. The nurse cleaned me up and put me into a wheelchair to got to my recovery room. I felt like I was on some crazy psychedelic going down the corridor of the hospital. The recovery room was fine and the nurses treated me so well. So I was happy to stay two nights. My mom slept the first night with me and Amir the second. Rachel, Wendy, Nuria, Jessica, Steve and Elan all visited me there in the hospital. The nurses really pampered me and helped me learn some breastfeeding and diaper changing skills. I was very grateful for their attention. Those first two nights of Emani’s life were so blissful, even though my stitches really hurt and so did my butt. I was so happy and high off of my love. Emani slept at my breast all day and night and when he was awake he was so quiet and peaceful and never seemed to cry. I called him my Buddah baby. My high of my love made my pain feel so insignificant.

My high of my love made my pain feel so insignificant.

Going home was intense. It was like entering reality. I was now a mother on my own. It was great to have so much support from my mom and all of my girlfriends (especially since Amir was so not up to the part.) Each day someone brought me a meal and some love. What a beautiful community and blessing. I never minded being woken every two hours with a poop or hungry belly. Emani is so precious, my little king. The first couple days at home he had a little jaundice which was upsetting and he didn’t nurse very often but by day four he was fine. He simply woke up!! I tell my birth story over and over which is almost satisfying but never really captures the magic for me since that magic is so beyond words of this world and I must just be grateful.


Miriam is an internationally acclaimed performing artist and instructor, with great inspiration to find ways the arts can help build bridges and create respect, love and unity among people of different backgrounds and spiritual traditions.