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Image: Joshua Huston

 

Rachel Nelly Delouya Rabinowitz was born at home in Casablanca, Morocco, where she grew up learning about birthing from her grandmother, a lay healer and midwife. She moved to Paris as a child and came to the US when she was 21. She is currently a
practicing doula dedicated to supporting couples from diverse backgrounds to have successful births. She takes interest in cross-cultural birth practices, birth after emotional trauma, and vaginal birth after caesarean.

How did you become a doula?

It was my destiny! My love of women’s health issues came from my grandmother. When I moved to California, I didn’t have a high school diploma. I had two children and a pending divorce when I decided to go back to school. I attended junior college and worked as a physician’s assistant for 36 years. I was working in delivery and extended care and became fascinated by women’s psyches. I was understanding myself through them, and it was profound. I went back to school for two years to become a certified midwife. I began to observe and write down births where women were having babies the way they wanted to. I was beginning to understand the way of women’s rights. I discovered the magic of a woman having an unmedicated birth and a woman’s strength in “laborland.” It was like getting high.

Tell us about the spiritual aspects of your work.

From the moment a woman goes into labor until the first breath of the child, the spirituality of birth is so intense. I’m swept by this spiritual energy. Birth also shows the primal intensity of life: the relationship between the mother and baby, and the mother and baby and partner. I’ve assisted religious mothers with niddah, ritual purity laws, where their husbands are not allowed to touch them during birth. I can hold the hands of these mothers and provide comfort. 

What’s next in childbirth?

We need healthy female role models in pregnancy and aging and a way to communicate the power of a woman’s body to her. We’ve lost the art of being a woman — it’s been taken away from us and I’m trying to restore it. A new mother is a queen who should be crowned.

 

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