Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

8 Sivan 5761 - May 30, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family
The Spiritual Dimensions of Motherhood
A Jewish Woman's Guide to Childbirth

by Aviva Rappaport
Reviewed by Y. Hall

...the perfect gift -- before the blessed event...

Hardcover, 384 pages

Before I had my first child, I took a childbirth education course to find out what to expect when the time came.

The instructor, Mrs. Aviva Rappaport, a certified labor coach and lactation consultant, plied us with many facts and details to prepare us physically and emotionally for the upcoming event. Then she remarked about one birth that she attended.

"When the baby was born, the light of the neshama filled the whole room."

A spiritual experience? In a hospital? I was floored. For the rest of the course, I eagerly absorbed both the medical information and the Torah hashkafa of an approach that could make my birth the same elevating, meaningful experience.

Indeed, it was.

First-time and experienced mothers alike can reap the spiritual rewards of birth with Mrs. Rappaport's new book, "HAPPY BIRTH DAY! A Jewish Woman's Guide to Childbirth." Hers is a superb compilation of sound, up-to-date medical advice, practical tips for the home and hospital, and an illuminating focus on the spiritual dimension of this time of intense personal closeness to Hashem.

The author, a seasoned professional who has attended hundreds of births, put much thought and care into her presentation to make it honest, accurate, and most importantly, useful for mothers-to-be. Her reassuring tone and user-friendly language demystify many complex aspects of childbirth. Balanced, pro-and-con discussions of important health care decisions will help mothers-to-be decide what's best for them and their babies.

One of the outstanding themes of this book is its emphasis on a mother- centered birth. Health care practitioners, midwives, and labor support are enjoined to tune into the needs of the mother-to-be, rather than call for "routine procedures" that in reality have no medical value. In fact, Mrs. Rappaport makes a strong case for why a woman's inner feelings are a more accurate indicator of the progress of labor than clinical measurements.

Mothers-to-be will be empowered by learning what they themselves can do to ease the birthing process. Tefila, tzedaka, segulos and a firm reliance on Hashem top the list, followed by time-honored coping techniques, relaxation exercises, and offbeat yet effective methods such as music, bubble baths, jacuzzi, and aroma therapy. By gaining control of the tone of the birth and her attitude towards it, the author maintains, every woman can create a more relaxing and rewarding birth experience.

HAPPY BIRTH DAY! also makes mothers-to-be more confident and better- informed consumers of health-care options. The author explains the benefits and risks of common hospital procedures and medications in layman's terms, and offers safe, natural alternatives to avoid emergency situations. Even mothers many times over will gain from valuable "insider" information such as how to ensure a good monitor, how to establish rapport with a midwife, and what time of day to check into the hospital.

Above all, this is a book written by a religious woman for religious women. Mrs. Rappaport encourages mothers to see the Hashgocha Protis in every birth, to judge favorably and look for the good in hospital protocol, and to meet physical and emotional challenges with emuna.

Issues that are ignored in secular books on the market, such as the Torah outlook of birth, modesty and the yiras shomayim of birthing attendants, lay the foundation for this work. The author gives full deference to halachic authorities at every stage of the process, according them their rightful role as members of the "birthing team."

HAPPY BIRTH DAY! carries warm blessings and endorsements from Harav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg and Harav Yisrael Ganz, leading authorities in matters of childbirth.

If you, your daughter, relative or friend is expecting, you may already be thinking about what type of baby gift to buy. Give this book as a present before the blessed event. Your recipient and her baby will thank you many times over!


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