By Debra Rubin/Hadassah Magazine
Rebekah Natanov was nearing the end of her first pregnancy when she switched from an obstetrician-gynecologist to a hospital-based midwife. Having studied maternal and women’s health when she was in graduate school, the Silver Spring, Md., resident was concerned that her ob-gyn would be too hasty to do an episiotomy and put her at risk for infection, too ready to push her to take drugs to induce labor if she went too many days past her due date and too quick to do a cesarean section.
“Midwives in general have a more natural outlook on birth,” says Natanov, 35, a research analyst at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, whose oldest daughter, Michal, is 4 years old. Midwives “rarely do episiotomies. You don’t have to fight to have something to eat or drink in labor.”
Midwives have been assisting women in childbirth for millennia. The best known in Jewish tradition are the biblical Shifra and Puah, the midwives recalled in the Passover story who defied Pharaoh’s order to slay the newborn sons of Hebrew women and have been known through the ages as the saviors of their people. According to some rabbinic teachings, Shifra was Moses’ mother, Yocheved, and Puah was his sister, Miriam. READ MORE