Crown Heights Women Train to Become Doulas

The fifth annual Maternal Wisdom Jewish Doula Training, a unique opportunity for women who aspire to help others during childbirth, takes place this month in Crown Heights.

The success of this inspirational and educational event has spurred positive and healthy developments in childbirth within the Jewish Community.

After participating in the Maternal Wisdom Doula Trainings that are held annually in Crown Heights, many women have been able to start meaningful career paths as professional and certified labor assistants.

“Being an orthodox Jewish woman I realized how vital and important the role of a doula is in our community. Having a large family can be both beautiful and taxing therefore, having the proper support and encouragement during the labor and birthing process ensures the experience will be that much more positive and meaningful.  I left the training feeling that I had the knowledge, skills, and confidence I needed to play an active and supporting role throughout the process.”  said Shlomet Dean-Epstein a nursing student who lives in Crown Heights.

Yitty Mandel, a Certified Lamaze Childbirth Educator from Borough Park, participated in the 2013 training.  She loves being a birth attendant because; “being a doula and participating in births gives me the opportunity to see raw emotions, tremendous endurance and strength and through it all one can clearly feel Hashem’s presence at your side.”

Yitty felt it was important to attend the Maternal Wisdom Doula Training in addition to the training she already had. “A ‘Jewish’ doula training adds the proper hashkafic guidance for birthing women in their most vulnerable time.  Birth is such a special time and can be an uplifting experience. Having a Jewish Doula present ensures the mother’s needs are met with the utmost sensitivity and attention given to tznius and dignity.”  She added.

Doulas meet with women before labor to discuss birth plans, fears, and build a relationship that will continue throughout the birth process.  A doula provides continuous labor support emotional and spiritual support.  She is fluent in comfort measures such as, breathing, relaxation, movement and positioning. A doula provides information in a neutral way and continuously reassures and comforts the mother regardless of birth choices or direction.  A doula advocates for the mother and helps facilitate communication between the mother and care provider which greatly impact birth outcomes and help women have a positive and safe experience. Numerous clinical studies have found that a doula’s presence at birth tends to result in shorter labors with fewer complications, reduces negative feelings about one’s childbirth experience, reduces the need for Pitocin (a labor-inducing drug), forceps or vacuum extraction and cesareans as well as reduces the mother’s request for pain medication and/or epidurals.

Mrs. Shainy Peysin of Crown Heights hired doula Melissa Lane, who took the Maternal Wisdom Doula Training,twice!  Mrs. Peysin related, “With my first birth, I actually didn’t think I would want or need a doula. I thought I was pretty self-sufficient. She came to my birth anyway to offer her services and she was instantly comforting and supportive. The dynamic of labor was such that I craved her presence and attention. Afterwards I was overwhelmingly grateful for her. Since then, I’ve had the same experience three more times! Each time I wonder if I could just be self-sufficient and do it on my own, and each time, after the birth, I am once again convinced that having a doula is the only way to do it!”

Program director Chana Luba Ertel’s birth training began in Israel at Misgav La-Dach birthing hospital in 1999.  Since then she has attended hundreds of births in many different settings, included hospitals, birth centers and home. Chana Luba is a Certified Childbirth Educator and loves sharing her passion for birth with expecting parents and doula students.  She pioneered the Mind Body Birth Childbirth Class at Baystate Greenfield Medical Center in Massachusetts for four years.  Chana Luba is a Homebirth Midwife in the final stages of CPM certification and has trained over 350 women to be doulas. At least 50 women have participated in the Annual Jewish Doula Training in Crown Heights.

“My goal is to train a ‘doula army’ that will conquer the fear and trauma associated with birth and experienced by so many women.  My hope is that with proper support and education women can see birth not as something to “get through” but as beautiful, transforming and spiritual; an experience of bringing a new neshama into the world with dignity and empowerment,” explains Maternal Wisdoms’ trainer and founder Chana Luba Ertel.

“I found the Maternal Wisdom Jewish Doula Training to be unique in that it infused spirituality into every step of the birthing process. It focused on transforming the birth into a time of spiritual renewal and growth. This training opened the door to a whole new world, a world I had no idea existed; a world where birth was not something to be fearful of, but something to look forward to with awe and appreciation. Words cannot adequately describe this truly remarkable and humbling experience, which I will forever cherish. This training gave me all the tools necessary to be a true advocate and supporter during labor and birth. I gained not only the knowledge and skills, but the empowerment and confidence I needed to perform and execute them successfully,” shared Shomit Dean-Epstien.

The Training is taught with honesty, balance and humor!  Chana Luba’s wide range of education infuses the training with a tapestry of techniques, styles and teachings.  Topics covered are:

· Comfort and support measures and positions

· Natural remedies “tricks of the trade”

· Role and practice of a doula and starting a doula practice

· Stages of labor and birth and Prenatal meetings and relationships

· Assisting in prolonged/complicated labors and common obstetrical practices

· Client advocacy, birth plans, communication

· Birth art, “coaching”, visualizations, breathing techniques

· Birth history in America

· Breastfeeding and Initial postpartum

· Torah insights in birth and labor and the unique aspects of supporting Jewish women

“Chana Luba wears many hats and wears them well.  I was amazed to see and hear how she switches roles from educator, midwife to doula… she gladly shared advice on how to juggle being a mother, wife and birth professional.  I continue to be inspired by her.” Reported Yitty Mandel

The work of doula support is ancient work, as we learn from Shifra and Puah.  Some women choose to carry on our tradition of mothering the mother by providing doula support not as a professional path but as a chessed or for family.  Sarah Yarmash a long time resident of Crown Heights holds a full time corporate job but has a passion for childbirth and volunteers her time and services to women.  She attended the training in 2009 and has since helped many of her family members and friends.

“Chana Luba’s class was spot on and a great start for my passion, helping women and also their husbands, have a wonderful birth experiences.” shared Sarah.

She has since become very active in the Crown Heights Doula Network, which was born out of Chana Luba’s  desire to form an energetic group of women involved in all aspects of supporting  women through the transitional time of childbirth.  The Network serves as an internal support for the doulas in Crown Heights.

Sarah Eichler, a lactation consultant in Crown Heights relates that, “we have formed a  group of birth professionals that consists of local Doulas, Childbirth Educators, Lactation Consultants and Massage therapists who get together monthly to support each other through peer reviews, sharing information and experiences. We also gain knowledge and education to promote the professional growth of all its members through having guest speakers such as Midwives, seasoned Doulas and other successful professionals.”  In addition to providing continuing education the Doula Network seeks to provide resources and education to the larger community.  Chaya Mussia Baruch, an active doula, and Sima Leah Duato, an EMT, both took the Maternal Wisdom Training and related that they would like to see the network provide the community with resources, education and support for healthy, successful and empowered birth and parenting experiences.

Jewish women strive to permeate all aspects of life with holiness.  The powerful and hard work of bringing children into the world should not be any different!  The work of doulas ensure more positive birth outcomes and memories regardless of how many children a  women has had or the kind of birth she wants or needs.  Maternal Wisdom’s Annual Jewish Doula Training strives to make that possible while helping women to design meaningful careers and community outreach.  It is the only training of its kind and can be used toward certification through the national organization CAPPA (Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association).

The 2014 training will take place on May 19-22 from 10-5pm in Crown Heights NY.  More information can be found at or by emailing Chana Luba at

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  • Need postpartum doulas too

    Labor doulas are great. I was blessed with a great one.
    But after my first baby, I really needed a postpartum doula. Alas, the only one I found was not really appropriate for a frum family, and astronomically expensive. Also, she just wanted to spend her time with me discussing breastfeeding, but I was having no difficulties with breastfeeding (plus had a great lactation consultant if I’d needed that).
    What I really needed was someone who’d make me something to eat, perhaps put in a load or two of laundry, and hold the baby whenever I needed to use the bathroom! Also someone who’d keep an eye on how I was taking care of myself, and do a thing or two for me to facilitate better self care postpartum.
    In short, I needed a sweet and patient Mom (bubby of the baby). But since I didn’t have that, r”l, I hoped a postpartum doula would fill the bill, at least somewhat

    • Need postpartum doulas too

      Yes, we sure need more frum ladies to become postpartum doulas, NOT just labor doulas.
      It would be a great way for some older “empty nester” ladies to be of HUGE help to new mothers.
      Also, if trained properly, these postpartum doulas could earn good money!
      Will there be a training school for postpartum doulas?

  • Tsfat soul sister

    Chana Luba!!!!!! You are awesome !! So inspiring.
    From you know who:)

  • Raizel Yehudith

    I am so proud of the fabulous work you do and the passion and love you put into it. Good luck with the upcoming training, Hope lots of women sign up. See you soon, You never cease to amaze me, from your # 1 fan!!!!

    Happy Mother’s day