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Born On Yom Kippur

C.B. Gavant

While most are spending the holiest day of the year in shul, midwives, labor coaches, and ObGyns, are usually in the hospital, helping deliver the many babies who arrive on the tenth of Tishrei. Rather than feel detached, they’ve find that being involved in the miracle of birth can connect them to their Creator as nothing else can.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Late on Yom Kippur afternoon, Batsheva Freedman* began to feel mild, sporadic contractions. When they were three minutes apart (though still fairly mild), she sent one of her children to shul to ask her husband if she should break her fast.

“The next thing I knew, my husband burst in the door, together with two Hatzolah guys,” Batsheva relates. “ ‘Mrs. Freedman, we’re taking you to the hospital immediately,’ ” they said.

“ ‘But I’m not having strong contractions! All I wanted to know was whether I should break my fast,’ I replied.

“ ‘Mrs. Freedman, will you please just sit down? Hatzolah does not enjoy delivering babies!’

Batsheva tried protesting again — especially since she was only in her seventh month of pregnancy. But every one of her objections was overruled.

“I was going to the hospital to get an IV whether I liked it or not,” she says. “By the time we got there, a six-minute drive away, they’d already administered a full bag of fluid, and I spent the rest of the fast connected to a monitor in the maternity ward.”

Batsheva’s contractions eventually stopped and, after Havdalah, she was sent home. But she wasn’t the only woman to experience an urgent dash to the hospital that Yom Kippur. When the non-Jewish staff first saw her kittel- and sneaker-clad guardian angels entering the hospital, someone commented, “Weren’t you guys just here?”

“Clear the beds,” the men shouted back. “We’ll be coming in all night.”

Is it an exaggeration, or do more women really end up giving birth on the tenth of Tishrei? In maternity wards that serve a lot of frum women, what’s it like to work the “Yom Kippur shift,” while fasting? And is there anything an expectant woman can do to prevent a situation like Batsheva’s from occurring?


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