by Justine Orlovsky-Schnitzler

The Midwife Divide

Jewish women, often early adopters of medical advances, are rethinking their childbirth options. But who deserves a doula most?

The birth of children is at once both an entirely everyday occurrence and a miracle in its own right. With few exceptions, for every child born, there was someone there to catch them. This task has fallen to midwives, both trained and untrained, for most of recorded history. One of the earliest textual mentions of midwifery comes from the Bible, where we learn that two women, Puah and Shifra, delivered the babies of the Israelites and, against the wishes of the Pharaoh, refused to kill each newborn Hebrew male. Their bravery, so the story goes, gave us Moses.

Continue reading this article…

Already a subscriber? Log in above to keep reading. Or subscribe now for immediate access to the complete digital and print editions, plus exclusive online access to Lilith's back issues.


  • Debby

    I find this article confusing. In the article, “midwife”, “Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM)” and “doula” seem to all be conflated together. In fact, each term has a different, specific meaning and identifies a different professional with different training and job description. Is the “Pittsburgh midwife” a lay (“direct entry”) midwife or a CNM? Does a “direct-entry” midwife have an apprenticeship with another lay midwife or with a CNM? How does a doula work when there is also a “midwife” present? Was more detail edited out of the article?