Midwifery and Postpartum Care From Generation to Generation – From Mexico to the United States

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Sarah and Her Mother Martha: The Cuarantena – From Mexico to the United States, by Imeinu doula and midwife in training Cristina Urista, was published by Squat Journal in the Winter 2012 edition. Please find the article here: Cuarantena Squat Journal Urista Postpartum Mexican

My mother Esperanza (right), a former Mexican partera, her mother Eufracia (pic) who taught my mother the importance of the Cuarentena care was also a Mexican partera, and me (left), currently training as a nurse-midwife at UCSF. -- Cristina Urista

My mother Esperanza (right), a former Mexican partera, her mother Eufracia (pic) who taught my mother the importance of the Cuarentena care was also a Mexican partera, and me (left), currently training as a nurse-midwife at UCSF. — Cristina Urista

Sarah Miranda had discussed the special postpartum care she received from her mother with her Imeinu doula Wendy Kenin after her third pregnancy. They had hoped to document it, to share the important traditions in supporting maternal health. Cristina Urista encountered Wendy the next year.

Cristina herself was beginning her journey into birth work at the time she interviewed the Miranda – Moreno family about the Cuarantena. Doing this research gave her an opportunity to begin to approach her own mother for a deeper understanding of her background as a midwife (partera) in Mexico.

“I am grateful that Imeinu encouraged me to further connect with my mother’s past as a Mexican partera, allowing me to discover that my maternal grandmother was also a partera,” Cristina says. “Imeinu opened a space where I could explore and reclaim my traditional and intergenerational Mexican birthing customs.”

Sarah Miranda (left) and her mother Martha (right.) Martha cared for Sarah according to the traditional cuarantena customs of their heritage after the birth of Sarah's third child, as was documented by Cristina Urista.

Sarah Miranda (left) and her mother Martha Moreno (right.) Martha cared for Sarah according to the traditional cuarantena customs of their heritage after the birth of Sarah’s third child, as was documented by Cristina Urista.

Cristina did an awesome job applying her ethnic studies background to document the postpartum care that Sarah’s mother Martha Moreno provided beginning immediately after delivery of her third child. We were thrilled that Squat Journal published Cristina’s concise and rich article to help share the wisdom of these special traditions for women’s and babies’ health.

After, Cristina joined Imeinu at a home birth and several hospital births. She wrote the story of her own birth, published by instructor Samsarah Morgan, founder of Bay Area Birthkeeper, where Cristina dove deeper into birth work, and you can read it here.

“Imeinu opened a space where I could explore and reclaim my traditional and intergenerational Mexican birthing customs.”

Cristina has been accepted this year into the nurse-midwifery program at UCSF after working for three years as a doula, which followed after the publication of this article in 2011.

It was very special to have Cristina document this practice that a grandmother brought with her from Mexico to Napa Valley in caring for her daughter, our beloved Imeinu client. Imeinu thanks Cristina for her tremendous contributions and looks forward to continued collaboration as she embarks on her midwifery studies.

Mazel tov!

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What is Naturopathic Medicine, how can it help with infertility, and is it really different from acupuncture?

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by Dr. Aumatma Naturopathic

Medicine has a few basic tenets that seem almost common sense. Use of natural substances (such as herbal medicine, nutrition, and homeopathy) to help rebalance the body and allow for the healing force to heal itself, is the ideal. Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) are trained in 4-6 year medical programs that integrate eastern and western medicine. While Western Medicine is primarily focused on diagnosis, followed by “fixing” the problem, Naturopathic Medicine is focused on discovering the root cause. Many people consider Western Medicine to be a proficient band-aid. Western Medicine does have many advantages such as the advance of technology that allows doctors to help with things that even a hundred years ago may have appeared miraculous.

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, on the other hand, have gotten good results for helping women rebalance their bodies from stress, reverse the damage to ovaries and eggs, as well as tonify the body overall to be able to conceive. I know lots of women get great results withAcupuncture.

Naturopathic Doctors fulfill a very different need, however. NDs consider it fundamentally important to understand the functions and pathways of the body and intimately understand hormones that can affect health and wellness. In addition to this foundation, however, Naturopathic Medicine also includes training in natural modalities for supporting the vital force of the body to heal. These therapies vary from Naturopathic doctor to doctor, as different practitioners may focus on different therapies. A majority of NDs do practice herbal medicine, functional medicine, nutrition, homeopathy, energy healing, and more.

Infertility is a complex diagnosis with many potential underlying causes. Naturopathic Doctors are particularly proficient in helping uncover a deep underlying cause that may not be obvious. Because Naturopathic Medicine views the body in a holistic way with a myriad of connections (that could be deemed otherwise unrelated), it is easy for NDs to recognize the deeper issues that may be contributing to a couple’s inability to conceive.

In my experience, Acupuncture is a great adjunct to Naturopathic Medicine & IVF/IUI. My recommendation is to go all out, with multiple approaches, because the complexity of infertility needs to be addressed on many levels. All of the different approaches fill very unique needs for the client, but there’s no one right answer. When we, as practitioners, collaborate fully, our clients get results faster. And, that’s what I am all about! When couples are ready to start a family and they are getting older and don’t have a lot of time, I think it’s ideal to use a multi-disciplinary approach. It breaks my heart when clients come to me after having tried acupuncture for 5 years… I wonder why they waited 5 years before trying something else or adding something else? Often, they come from referrals from their acupuncturist, but it’s only after they have fully exhausted their time with the acupuncturist. And, I have been able to help most of these couples– however, I just wonder if they wouldn’t have been saved anguish and disappointment if their work with me was started sooner, in collaboration with acupuncture.

So, overall, what I can offer clients is very different from acupuncture. Acupuncture can strengthen the body, help with stress, and re-balance the energetic body. I really like to work on the physical-mental-emotional from a different perspective. On the physical level, we want to detoxify and clear the channels of the body. Then, we are testing and rebalancing hormones (often undiagnosed abnormalities that Western Medicine missed). And lastly, we work on the mental – energetic layers. In short, using a mind-body approach to conceiving and birthing a healthy child is essential — and can happen easily when you have a team of practitioners caring for you and your partner’s health and well-being.

Remember they say, “it takes a village to raise a child?”…. these days, I say, it takes a village to conceive and birth a child.

Find more from Dr. Aumatma on her website at  www.draumatma.com.

(Yes, that’s CHOCOLATE!) When #Pregnant, We’re Just Different: How To Maintain Sanity

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Pregnancy brain? Hormonal, x35,000? Feel like a complete MENTAL CASE?

All things pretty common when we’re pregnant.

Thoughts like:

“If I JUST had a big hunk of extra sharp cheddar cheese RIGHT NOW, everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, would be fine!” (And add to that, a few (?) pieces of chocolate, and we’re set!)

“If anyone else calls me on the phone,  I WILL HUNT THEM DOWN, STEAL THEIR PHONE, BREAK IT, AND THROW THE PIECES IN THEIR FACE!”

“I AM NO LONGER HAPPY THAT YOU WILL BE THE FATHER OF THIS CHILD!”

Woh, Nelly.   What happened? I was fine (well, most of the month, anyway) a month ago, six months ago, nine months ago.

What happened, is, for sure, hormonal changes. What exactly, and why exactly? Not clear. But we need to give ourselves a break.

The whole truth is this: When we are pregnant, we are, in many ways, simply a DIFFERENT PERSON. We have a different makeup.

We could theorize that we are in need of more protection ourselves, as we’re protecting a most fragile being, increasingly growing inside of US.

And modern day culture, which does not encourage a woman to rest for anything,  fuels us an uphill battle.

We feel like we should do it all. Be pregnant, and run a marathon, while keeping a full time job, fully managing the house, and of course, taking care of any children we already have. Not to mention keeping up a good marriage. It’s a lot. Guess what? It’s too much.

Ladies, our priority is to take it easy, however we need to, in our own pregnancies. For some women, this means energy levels aren’t much different (at least perhaps until the end of pregnancy;), and others feel a huge energy drop just after conception.

The most practical tips are simple:

1. EAT.

Eat well. (Whole grains, fruits, veggies, PROTEIN. Did I mention that extra sharp cheddar cheese? I seem to have needed that for weeks one pregnancy.)

EAT FREQUENTLY – you might prefer smaller meals, 6-7 x/s day, including middle of the night. (My husband LOVES to joke about my 3am escapades. Where’d those last two, three, four pieces of gourmet pizza go?)

2. DRINK.

DRINK WELL. (Tea, whole fruit juices, not sugary ones, and water.)

DRINK FREQUENTLY.

3. If you feel up to it, EXERCISE.

Break a sweat, work the muscles. Doesn’t have to be what you did pre-pregnancy, not even close – depends on how you feel. Just follow your body, and you’ll know what feels good during, and afterward. YOU, AND ONLY YOU, KNOW.

4. BLOOD TESTS.

Your prenatal care provider should be sending you for regular blood tests to monitor you. Iron levels, for example, can affect energy levels.

5. HOMEOPATHY/HERBALIST/DOCTOR.

If you feel like you’re drinking & eating well, exercising to your beat, and you still feel depressed, or overly low on energy, consider a good homeopath and/or herbalist. They will screen you well and determine some good supplements for you, which often do the trick. If you have a history of needing antidepressants, and/or feel that none of the above solutions are working for you, consider speaking with a doctor about medication suitable for pregnancy.

Overall, know that you know yourself. Give yourself your time to yourself. Baths, reading, napping all over the place, hire a maid (the money will come back to you), whatever you need.  (Wanna laugh? Read “The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy” by Vicki Iovine. A must.)

Relax. Drop your shoulders.

And above all, there’s no need to explain nor apologize. Just do your thing, and those around you will get it. And they’ll ultimately be happier for you, and with you. And hey, you can always remind yourself it’s for your baby.

Feel great, feel healthy,

Chaya

This article first appeared on Easier Birth.

chaya doula

Chaya Valier – Israel

Chaya is a doula with 9 years experience as well as over a year of informal midwifery studies with local homebirth mentors; considering going to nursing school and then midwifery school in Israel. Specialize in assisting women who prefer to birth without drugs, and at the same time happily support whatever the situation might be. Main focus is on relaxing the body in order to facilitate the easiest, quickest births, all the while trusting in the mother’s instincts as the central, pivotal, and overall best guiding force. www.easierbirth.com @valierbirth

The Placenta: Alive & Golden

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The placenta is an organ designed to leave the body. Fully, and in tact. Can you imagine if your kidneys, on their own, just left the body? Once given the signals, the placenta, or after-birth, releases itself from the woman’s uterus, literally to be born. If someone gives birth to her child, she also gives birth to her placenta.

Besides camels, we are the only land mammals that do not regularly eat our placenta. In a mainstream culture where the sanitized is favored over the raw, and where 98% of women birth within a system that considers it medical waste, our re-membering of who we are is really at hand.

Placenta is gold! This recipe is jam-packed with nutrients: iron, vitamins including B-12, minerals, and various hormones such as oxytocin, the ‘love hormone’. Ingesting placenta also supports milk supply and breastfeeding.

Mystically, the veins on the baby side are shaped as a tree. Many spiritual traditions reference a tree, or the Tree of Life, as part of their cosmology. Placenta can be read, like tea leaves, or Tarot. That which is most wild, most “out there”, is actually what is innate to us, common, and natural: most “in here”. None of us could be here without it. Without placenta, we would not grow in the mother’s womb. In Hebrew, one of our ancient languages, the word for placenta is שִׁלְיָה, shilya, which is spelled the same as shelya, meaning Of God.

There are many traditions around the placenta. Some cultures historically have made ceremony with placenta, or medicine. Others have eaten it raw, or made a stew. Some have included a burial ceremony. Other options American women currently use are smoothies, tincture, homeopathic, or requesting encapsulation. Women have reported that eating placenta has supported them immensely with post-partum in terms of energy level, mood, and internal support for an extremely transitional time.

I have great reverence for this organ that continues to pulse and live even after it is released from the body. My experience with her is that she is alive. By beginning to see the power and potency in placenta, we can begin to feel the power and potency in ourselves.

Batya Friedland, MA, is an ordained chaplain, Jewish ritual artist, doula, and midwifery student. She offers placenta preparation, as well as workshops and retreats on Jewish Meditation, Direct Torah study, and Hebrew prayer.

Batya lives in Oakland, and can be reached at batyamidwifery@gmail.com.

MICROBIRTH Film Screening in SF 11/3/14

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Microbirth Film Screening
 Please join Imeinu and
“New Mother” author Allie Chee for a
SF screening of the documentary MICROBIRTH.

November 3, 2014
6 – 9 pm
2500 18th Street SF
Microbirth
The film will be preceded by a presentation from Imeinu and followed by an open discussion.

Door Prize! Drawing for 10 free copies of the book New Mother, by Allie Chee.

This year the yartzeit (anniversary of one’s death) of Rachel Imeinu, Cheshvan 11, falls on November 3, 2014. Sometimes celebrated as Jewish Mother’s Day, people gather at Rachel Imeinu’s tomb in Bethlehem and hold smaller Torah learning circles around the world to honor and remember Mama Rachel, the biblical matriarch. Imeinu Doulas & Collective is pleased to present the screening on Rachel’s Yartzeit, the Jewish Mother’s Day, to open up discussion on the ways we birth in the world today.

Imeinu Doulas & Collective is a group of birth and postpartum doulas that provides physical, emotional, informational and spiritual care to the laboring mother, her baby and her family to encourage the most positive childbirth experience. Imeinu serves persons of all cultural and religious backgrounds.

Click Here
To follow the MICROBIRTH event on facebook!

Jewish Mother’s Day – Anniversary of the Passing of our great matriarch Rachel

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by Wendy Kenin @greendoula

So after the Jewish New Year holiday series, what next? The only holiday during the month of Cheshvan is Shabbat – but that’s the most important of all of them! During Cheshvan, the month when we are reading in the Torah from Bereshit about the beginning years of the world again, we can pay special attention to the yarzeit of Rachel Imeinu, our matriarch Mama Rachel, whose husband the patriarch Jacob laid to rest on Cheshvan 11 in the year 2208 (1553 BCE) next to the road in Beit Lechem after she died giving birth to Benjamin her second son. This year Cheshvan 11 falls on November 3-4, 2014.

Rachel’s Tomb, considered the third holiest site to the Jewish people, is visited by thousands of people every year, but particularly on her yarzeit. Rachel “Our Mother”, who lived for many years barren while her sister bore children to her husband, whose cry HaShem responds to by promising that her children the Jewish people will return home, is understood to hear the prayers of her people and to advocate for them.

While Kever Rachel has been the subject of art over the centuries, today it is enveloped in a military compound as it has been subjected to religious war and turmoil. Access to this sacred site had been obstructed at various times over the centuries and so the militarism of the site is for the purpose of maintaining access for Jewish people as well as for preserving the site’s integrity and keeping Rachel, Our Mother safe. Considering this past summer’s news of the destruction of the Tombs of Yonah and of Daniel in Iraq by Muslim extremists after they had survived all these centuries, the military protection of Rachel’s Tomb looks better than ever.

Even if you can’t make it to Kever Rachel in person to honor her during the anniversary of her tragic death, this day has been dubbed “Jewish Mother’s Day” and you can observe her yarzeit from wherever you are. Certain customs to consider include learning Torah with others, giving charity in honor of the deceased, and blessing and sharing food with others. Herein lies more possibility for raising the spirits of the Jewish people, in the merit of and with love for our precious matriarch Rachel Imeinu, the embodiment of Jewish grace.

Judaism revers women and mothers. We exercise our elevated female role throughout the Jewish calendar cycle – from special mitzvot for women relating to Shabbat, to celebrating the new month each Rosh Chodesh, to resting while the Chanukah candles are lit. Cheshvan 11 offers the Jewish people another occasion to focus on the special strengths of women while also honoring our matriarch Rachel in her sacred resting place in the Holy Land during her yarzeit. We can do this individually or in groups, and I recommend doing it in groups!

Unity is a mandate. While we may have work to do individually internally and externally, Judaism offers structures throughout the annual calendar to stay connected in community and never to isolate ourselves. Being present for a minyan, or participating in simchas can bring greater blessings. Staying engaged in earthly activities with other Jewish people in the physical world, particularly focused on Torah learnings, is our way. We convene throughout festivals, sabbaths, rituals, and even on our very special Jewish Mother’s Day.

This blog entry is an excerpt from an October 12, 2014 article titled, “Sacred Sites and Sacred Rights: Earth-Connected Spirituality from the Jewish New Year through ‘Jewish Mother’s Day.'” Read the article in it’s entirety on Times of Israel here.

Jewish Women’s Mitzvah Class – Separating the Challah

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Rosh Chodesh Elul 5774
August 27, 2014 7:30 PM
East Bay, CA

Doula Devorah Leah Romano 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! Rebbetzin Romano will share the secrets of challah baking as elucidated in the kabbalistic book for women “Ohel Rochel.”

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. ImeinuDoulas@gmail.com

This event is taking place in anticipation of Rosh Chodesh Elul! Suggested donation: $10.

For updates please follow this event on facebook here.