Can you name the top five most spiritual times in your life? Yom Kippur in yeshiva or seminary? Your chuppah? When you learned a particularly inspiring piece of Torah? The first time you saw your firstborn child? For the women, how about the nine months leading up to that birth? Or the countless sleepless nights afterward, feeding and changing that baby? Didn’t think so.
“But why not?” questions Mrs. Chani Newman of Far Rockaway. Being the conduit for a neshamah’s journey into the world is a godly job. That is why, starting Tuesday, May 10, she will be launching her new course in Spiritual Birthing. One-of-a-kind, Newman’s course consists of four classes aimed at increasing meaning and comfort during pregnancy, labor, and the first few months postpartum. The classes will take place in Far Rockaway for one set price and will be offered in cycles.
The series begins with a variety of Torah sources that teach the greatness of pregnancy in Torah thought. This will be followed by the ramifications this has for a woman’s behavior during pregnancy and labor. Specific techniques will be practiced for achieving calm and connecting to Hashem. This includes unique tefillos and visualizations, including some Chani authored herself, as well as other methods. The series will conclude with Torah perspectives that can help keep Hashem in the picture (and keep us sane!) while raising a newborn.
Finding meaning during pregnancy has been important to Mrs. Newman since she was expecting the first of her three daughters in Washington Heights. While searching for a childbirth class, she discovered a natural method of childbirth known as hypnobirthing, which includes a variety of natural methods to manage the challenges of pregnancy and labor, including exercises, visualizations, and conditioning the body to get into a state of relaxation using self-hypnosis. According to methodology of hypnobirthing, a woman’s body is tailor-made to give birth, so there needn’t be excess anxiety on the part of the mother or overmedicating on the part of the doctors.
“Personally, I liked the idea of meeting labor with relaxation,” says Newman. “I was pretty nervous about labor, and I was already into things like meditating and visualizations, so this was something right up my alley. It seemed to me that a Jewish approach to birthing would be similar to hypnobirthing. A woman’s body is made for this, because Hashem made it that way! And if we work on our emunah that Hashem will make everything work out the way it is supposed to, the idea of trying to remain calm certainly makes sense.”
While Newman found hypnobirthing to be the right approach for her and it inspired the course, she understands that this is not right for everyone. Spiritual Birthing does not promote one method of childbirth over another. Newman’s aim in creating the course is to help people realize that an epidural and meaningful labor are not mutually exclusive. “When I heard of women with a perspective of ‘let’s just get this over with,’ I became so sad. They are missing out on what could be one of the most godly experiences of their lives! They don’t realize they can get their pain relief and connect to Hashem at the same time.” Additionally, much of the course aims to help women connect to Hashem during pregnancy as well as after giving birth.
Spiritual Birthing is not a childbirth class, and Newman asserts that she is not a midwife or doula. However, she likes to think of it as a childbirth class’s religious counterpart. And what better religious undertaking to embark upon during this season of Klal Yisrael’s national birth–elevating your personal birthing experience!
The course has the endorsement of Rabbi Eytan Feiner, who reviewed all the material.
For more information or to sign up, call 516-382-3336 or e-mail ChaniYNewman@gmail.com