Friday, May 28, 2010


I remember when my oldest was a newborn, feeling that a divine grace was permeating our house and our beings. It felt as if angels wings were enclosed over us, creating a nest of safety and peace. As a midwife, I encounter that same sentiment when doing the postpartum visits, there is a deep sense of contentment and joy in the house, and all emanating from this one tiny, bundled creature! Recently, I came across this hadith which might provide a clue as to what that feeling exemplifies. In one hadith (sayings of the Prophet) the Prophet (pbuh) said, “If it weren’t for nursing children, bent-over old people and grazing animals, catastrophe would descend upon you like a flood” (Heysemi, Mecmau’z-Zevaid, X, 227). Thus, he pointed out that “sabiler” (babies in the nursing stage) are the first factor preventing divine wrath." The first factor in preventing divine wrath, isn't that amazing?

The following is a public service announcement from Puerto Rico encouraging breastfeeding. I think it is such a visual image of the grace and beauty that flows between a mother and her nursling. It shows babies of all ages and toddlers nursing. I could not imagine a public service announcement like this in America, our culture is so obsessed with breasts as a sexual image that we could never air something like this on television. But how effective it would be if we could...

The following is a trailer for a film, Formula Fed America, which portrays the low rates of breastfeeding in America in the context of a public health crisis. And if we look at the above hadith, I suppose we could think of it as a spiritual crisis as well!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Home Birth on the Rise

on Flickr - by christyscherrer

Using birth certificate data from around the United States during 1990-2006, the CDC has just released a report on Trends in Out of Hospital Birth. It is a promising report detailing the uptake in out of hospital births in 2005 and sustained in 2006. Here are a few interesting and encouraging findings:

  • Home births were less likely than hospital births to be preterm, low birth weight, or multiple deliveries.
  • An increase in out of hospital birth also took place in Canada in the years studied.
  • Women who are non-Hispanic white, over 25, and married, were more likely to have an out of hospital birth.
  • Women born outside of the US were less likely to have an out of hospital birth than those born in the US.
  • In 2006 64.7% of the out of hospital birth were home births and 28% took place in freestanding birth centers.
  • 61% of home births were delivered by midwives - 16% by Certified Nurse Midwives and 45% by other midwives (which would most likely be Certified Professional Midwives, although the report doesn't specifically state their titles)
I hope this upward trend in out of hospital birth continues. For healthy moms and babes, there is nothing more joyful and empowering than welcoming your baby into this world, in the comfort and serenity of one's own home. For more information on midwives in your area, check out the Midwives Alliance of North America website, where you can search for a qualified midwife in your area and learn more about the Certified Professional Midwife educational process. Happy birthing to you all!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Great Gelatin Divide

Still basking in my newborn's light, so meanwhile, check out my non-midwifery related blog post at Trust me, this was written long before I had my baby!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Fatimah Elaine

If you noticed that I haven't posted lately, look above for the best excuse ever! Welcome to my baby girl Fatimah Elaine, named after her two great grandmothers. Here are her stats:

  • Gestated one full month longer than her big brother.
  • First contraction to last push was two hours.
  • Born in the water in our bedroom with one amazing midwife and her wonderful student..
  • Birthed in four pushes.
  • 14" head (!)
  • 7'13"
  • 21" long
  • Loved and adored by many.
Thanks for all of your support. Posting will be light for awhile. If you are a midwifery client, I am taking clients with due dates of September and beyond. Thanks again. Keep us in your prayers and good thoughts!!!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Poem - Happy Mother's Day!

Pregnancy_010 by bethykae

Happy Mother's Day to each and every hard working, laughing, loving mother out there. May every day be filled with the recognition and gratitude that mothers deserve! My gift, a Rumi poem (don't be swayed by the title, there is a moving reference to mothers). Also, head over to Seeker's Guidance for a wonderful poem by Baraka Blue, "To Mothers". Enjoy!

Joseph in Prison

Joseph in prison asked a fellow prisoner,
"When you leave here, your affairs will prosper
with the king. Please mention me to him
and try to obtain my release."

One prisoner cannot free another prisoner,
and except for rare cases, every human being
is a prisoner, waiting.

Joseph asked a low, prickly shrub
like camels graze on, for help,
and he was punished for it.

The prisoner forgot Joseph's name completely,
and Joseph spent several more years confined.

In bright sunlight, don't ask a bat for directions.
If you're an ocean storm, don't look to heat-mirages
and sand for assistance. Dont' make a brace
from rotten wood.

God punished Joseph, or seemed to.
Actually He totally absorbed him
in such an intimate joy that
the dungeon disappeared.

There's no more restricted place
than the bloodwalls of the womb,
yet in there God opens a window
into the Presence, and your senses grow.

They blossom out of the body.
The delight is so profound in the womb
that you never want to leave.

You pull towards your mother's spine,
and away from the labia door.

The way of spiritual treasure is inward.
Don't look for it outside in property or wealth.
Setting means nothing. One man sits ecstatically
in a bare stone nook. Another is sad
in a beautiful rose garden.

At the wine-feast the drunkard
is most happy when he passes out.

Look at his smile. Be a ruin.
This body-house is full of imagery
Demolish it. Those fantasy art-works
keep you from union.

But the beauty of the pictures
comes from the radiance of the soul!

That light-filled water produces
the bubbles that obscure its surface.

That which blocks us from seeing
is from a deep vision-source inside.

Let your bats fly into that sun
and lose their batness!

(Mathnawi, VI, 3400-3431)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Happy International Day of the Midwife!

Indeed, the world needs midwives now more than ever. Maternal mortality rates are a scourge in our time. In Afghanistan a woman dies each half hour of pregnancy, or childbirth related causes. Over 90% of these deaths occurs in developing countries, many of them Muslim. And in California, the maternal mortality rates have nearly tripled in the last decade! Midwives are oft touted as a large part of the solution when it comes to the crisis of maternal mortality. Take today as an opportunity to increase your understanding of midwifery and what midwives do. There is a fascinating and informative free online seminar taking place all day. There are some great sessions for expecting mothers about nutrition and yoga, as well as more academic sessions for midwives. And in an exciting step forward in terms of midwifery and home birth in the Gulf region, there was a recent article in The National opening up the conversation about home birth options there in UAE. Blessings to all the midwives who get up in the middle of the night, worry over their mums -to- be, and take great pride in continuing the tradition of women taking care of women.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

First Birth in Medina - Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr

Masjid-An-Nabawi #17 by Huda M Elmatasani

Asma bint Abi Bakr, sister of Ayesha (May Allah be pleased with them both), made the Hijra while pregnant. During her hijra, there was a rumor spread that any Muslim baby born in Mecca, would be slain. Imagine, not only fleeing for your life, but fleeing for the unborn life within you.

SubhanAllah, Asma must have been a very strong and courageous woman. She was also the one to bring food and water to her father, Abu Bakr (May Allah be pleased with him) and the Prophet (peace be upon him), while they were hiding in the cave. This was no small physical feat, and took a bravery I'm not sure many of us possess.

Then, to make hijra, a long and arduous journey while pregnant, also took an incredible amount of prowess and determination. Let this be an inspiration to those of us who are pregnant (or not pregnant, for that matter) next time we make an excuse for not exercising. May we be inspired and prodded by the strength of Asma!

Asma made the emigration safely, and not long after began to feel the pangs of labor. It must have been a relief to feel them in a place where she knew that she and her baby were safe and protected, and where the blessing of the Prophet's presence must have been palpable. Soon, her son was in her hands, the first son of Medina, Abd Allah ibn Zubayr (May Allah be pleased with him). He was the first Muslim baby to be born in Medina. Both the Emigrants to the city of Medina, and those Muslims of Medina who generously welcomed them, celebrated this birth with enthusiasm.

It was a sign of hope, the next generation of Muslims born in Medina, the newly adopted home of the community. Abd Allah was brought to the Prophet, who took a bite of a date, then removed it from his blessed mouth, and rubbed it over the baby's gums, all the while making lots of du'a for this child. The people of Medina paraded him through the streets, and it is said, made a sort of tawaaf of the streets of Medina with him! What joy and happiness babies bring!

JazakAllah khair to Ustadha Eiman and those who make her Saturday morning class possible for giving us the splendid details of this event!