We arrived in a fog of missing beds, a broken fridge, two bored and over-excited little girls and me, 6 months pregnant, yup, it was fun. Actually it was fun, lots to do, lots to create and make my own.
A birth to look forward to and plan for... Here's where I really had something to get stuck in to.
I'd had a water birth when my second baby was born, in the Edgware Natural Birth Centre, London, UK, and it was amazing. I remember sinking into the deep warm water and feeling over half of all the sensations in my body melt away, smiling and involuntarily exclaiming Baruch Hashem (Thank God). I remember Naima being born into the water and holding her as I sat on the ledge inside the pool, she was so calm and clear and present.
Obviously my first stop was panic, extreme panic, I knew I wanted a natural, drug free birth and I knew I could only manage that with the power of a water birth yet suddenly I was without any option but to go full hippy and have a homebirth, now I may be relatively hippy-esque but this was way out of my comfort zone.
However, after careful consideration and article reading and advise taking and some serious introspection, I birthed Suri Liel at home in Jerusalem at 5:15pm on April 29th 2014 and it was magical.
When I was ordering my "Birth Pool In A Box" TM my midwife made a fabulous suggestion, "why not buy a few and start a business?"
Indeed, so I did.
Ok, so far so good, but it wasn't good enough.
Many times mamas have asked me which hospitals they can go to with a birthing pool, they want to know that if any complications were to arise they could transfer easily and quickly to the doctor run labour ward. As I mentioned earlier, Israeli hospitals have almost uniformly stated that women may not birth into the water, at best some hospitals have, at times, allowed labouring in a pool (that the women must bring herself) or in a hospital bath tub (not particularly conducive to birth as you can't squat or be immersed in the water with ease, you can't really move around much either).
Luckily I've never been one to stop at a NO
First step: I found out that the Israeli Ministry of Health actually have NO policy on Water Birth. Now this was great news because the rules had yet to be written...
Step Two: I was contacted by the wonderful staff at St Joseph's Hospital in Jerusalem. Wasim Kamal, a Biomedical Engineer and generally helpful and super sweet guy at the hospital asked me if they could rent a pool for their newly refurbished birthing unit which is dedicated to educating women about the widely over-looked values and advantages of natural birth and so I jumped on a train (well I was pregnant again so I carefully stepped onto it to be more precise) and went to meet him. I also met Sister Valentina, an Italian nurse and midwife, a huge hearted, deeply motivated birth professional, and the rest of the team at St Josephs. They bought a Birth Pool In A Box for themselves - Which all mamas in Israel are invited to come and use! - and are considering having a permanent one installed - watch this space...
Step Three: I sat with Sister Valentina et al and discussed the issues surrounding women having to be 'pulled out of the water' at 10cm just so as to not break hospital policy (aka "fear of the unknown") of birthing into the water.
What if the midwives, nurses and doulas became certified in Water Birthing?
What if they could they could then go to the big hospital bosses and say "we know what we are doing, we have been trained, this is safe"?
So we set about finding someone to train and certify Israel's midwives.
In April 2017 the course was held!
Over 2 days nearly 100 of Israel's midwives and birthing professionals trained and gained certification in Water Birthing, result!
I am ashamed to say I wasn't even there, I was home with my 8 month old new son and my 3 other little girls being a mama, my full time position, but the point is it happened!
Fast forward to last week.
A mama calls me to ask if there's any hospitals she can go to with a pool - outside of Jerusalem
I say no, at the moment there's Laniado that has space for a pool but not enough space for a Birth Pool In A Box.
I ask myself the question I never bothered asking before, why is there no room?
Phone calls ensue
And then it all changes.
The Natural Birth Unit at Laniado agree to allow Birth Pool In A Box into the birthing rooms - before they were only allowing pools into the bathroom, which means there's almost no space as the room also houses a bath a toilet... and there's more!
The lady I am speaking with explains that whilst birthing into the water has been against hospital policy she i happy to say that the policy is hopefully about to change and full water birthing will soon be allowed. "I went to course earlier this year so now we are able to provide qualified water birthing assistance" Penina from Laniado explains.
"Oh! I set up that course!" I blurt out, surprising myself.
And so it begins.
The more these services are used the more they will become available.
Next step? Getting permanent pools into all major birth units in hospitals all over israel... I have the pools, we're nearly there ;)